Title:    The Special Prisoner

 

Author: James Glossman, adapted from the novel by Jim Lehrer
Director:    James Glossman
Dates:     February 7 - 24, 2002
Performances:      Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays - 8 p.m.
Matinees:    Sundays at 3 p.m. + Saturday, February 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices:  1st Thursday preview and matinees - $18; evenings - $20
Group sales rates:      12 or more tickets @ $12; student groups - 10 or more tickets @ $10
Cast:  

Sonnie Brown*, Paul Murphy*, William Schallert*, Jim Yue*(*All members of Actor's Equity)

 

Creative staff:
Composer/Musician          Justine F. Chen  陳潔思  
Set Designer   Richard Turick
Lighting Designer         Richard Currie
Costume Designer Bettina Bierly
Production Stage Manager Barbara Dente* 
Asst. Stage Manager Kathleen Creegan

 

Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, Administrative Staff

Artistic Director   

 John Pietrowski     

Producing Director Elizabeth Murphy
Asst. to the Producing Director Greg D'Angelo
website:  www.ptnj.org
Contact:   LucyAnn Saltzman, Director of Public Relations
Tel:          (973)514-1787, extension 13
E-mail:     lsaltzman@ptnj.org
PRESS RELEASE:     
SUBJECT:   World Premiere Drama Based on Novel by Jim Lehrer, Featuring Veteran Actor William Schallert    
Area Walking through the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, a retired Methodist Bishop locks eyes with a man he is certain was the Japanese POW Commandant who tortured him and killed thousands of prisoners fifty years ago during World War II.


This is the premise that introduces a new play, The Special Prisoner, a drama of justice and forgiveness, written and directed by James Glossman an adaptation from the novel of the same name by Jim Lehrer, reknowned executive editor and anchor of PBS's The News Hour with Jim Lehrer.  The Special Prisoner receives its world premiere production at Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, 33 Green Village Road in Madison, February 7 - 24.

Featured in the central role is veteran actor William Schallert who has appeared in over 80 theatrical films, 650 television episodes, 50 stage plays, and several thousand voice-over commercials. Perhaps best remembered for his roles as Patty Duke's TV father, Dobie Gillis' teacher Mr. Pomfritt, and Admiral Hargrade in Get Smart, Schallert's theatrical career spans five decades. "We are pleased to have him here in our theatre to help us bring to life this exciting and engaging new play," says John Pietrowski, Playwrights Theatre Artistic Director.

The story of The Special Prisoner moves back and forth through time from the violence and atrocities of war to the unexpected rekindling of hatred today.  

This is the second collaboration between playwright/director James Glossman and Jim Lehrer. Glossman adapted Lehrer's coming-of-age novel Kick the Can, produced in the spring of 1996 at Luna Stage.  Lehrer says that he was drawn to the material as he thought back to the young Americans who flew the B-29 bombing missions over Japan in World War II.  "Then," Lehrer explains, "came a natural interest in what it must have been like for the Japanese civilians on the ground. I tried to understand the competing emotions of forgiveness and revenge from each side fifty years later."

Glossman, who is an Artistic Associate on the staff at Playwrights Theatre, has a history of stage adaptations.  This began with his work as a student at Northwestern University under the tutelage of Frank Gallati and Robert Breen and then at Yale Drama School where he adapted James Joyce's story "The Boarding House," which he also directed.  So began an overlapping career of writing and directing.  He has directed his own adaptations of works by Faulkner, Mark Twain, Cheever and others, with works produced on stage, screen, and radio. In addition to directing Playwrights Theatre's Rose City Project presentations and touring show Hot Air (for the Liberty Science Center), he is currently preparing an original film script.

The cast, with Schallert playing the central role of Bishop John Quincy Watson, includes three actors playing a number of characters.  Actors Paul Murphy and Jim Yue, who originated their roles at the concert reading of this play last season at Playwrights Theatre, are returning in roles that include Murphy as the Bishop's longtime buddy who survived the camps with him and remains a friend, and Yue as Tashimoto, who may or may not be the Japanese Commandant.  Actress Sonnie Brown serves as narrator and plays a number of other roles.

The production incorporates elements from the stylized Japanese Noh Drama as well as original music composed by Juilliard's Justine F. Chen, who will also play her score on traditional Japanese instruments.  Chen is the first graduate in Juilliard's history to earn a double masters degree in violin and composition.  The setting is designed by Richard Turick, lighting by Richard Currie, and costumes by Bettina Bierly.

Performances of The Special Prisoner are Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., with additional matinees on Saturdays, February 16 and 23 at 2 p.m.  To purchase tickets, check the Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey website, www.ptnj.org, or call 973/514-1787, extension 30.  Ask about special rates for groups of twelve or more.

Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey is the only professional (Actors' Equity) theatre in the state devoted solely to the development of new plays and writers for the stage.  In addition to their New Play Development Program which offers a working arena for emerging and nationally-known professional writers, Playwrights Theatre has an extensive educational program. Through the New Jersey Writer's Project and Language in Motion, Playwrights Theatre reaches over 17,000 students each year in a number of local and statewide venues, making up one of the largest creative writing residency programs in the country.  Local offerings include classes for adults and for young people as well as the nationally-recognized Madison Young Playwrights Program that takes creative writing activities into each of the Madison public schools as well as the private school, St. Vincent Martyr for an extensive 12-week program.

Funding for Playwrights Theatre's programming is made possible in part by generous grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding for Playwrights Theatre's New Play Development Program is made possible in part by the Dramatists Guild Fund, the F.M. Kirby Foundation, Inc., the Shubert Foundation, as well as many other foundations, corporations, and individuals.

Additional funding for Playwrights Theatre's Educational Programs is made possible by Atlantic Mutual Companies, Bay Foundation, Whitney Houston Foundation for Children, Maersk, Inc., MCJ Foundation, Prudential Foundation, Schering-Plough Corporation, and the Victoria Foundation.

Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey is a member of The New Jersey Theatre Alliance and The National New Play Network.