Archives for: June 2008, 06
'Occupant' - On Becoming an Artist (AmericanTheaterWeb)
Resurrecting an Artist’s Greatest Creation: Herself (New York Times)
Mercedes Ruehl performs with unimpeachable conviction in Edward Albee’s touchingly modest tribute to the sculptor Louise Nevelson.
In 'Albee's Occupant,' a sculptor's life takes shape (New York Daily News)
Imagine an episode of "Inside the Actors Studio" reworked as "Inside the Sculptor's Studio" and you've got a decent bead on "Edward Albee's Occupant."
Review: 'Occupant' (Newsday)
Should vacate now (New York Post)
Artistic timidity isn't a trait that springs to mind when thinking of Edward Albee, but it's hard to avoid pinning the label on his...
A portrait of an art-world legend shines (New York Journal-News)
"Occupant," at the Signature Theatre Company, is Edward Albee's riveting, must-see portrait of sculptress Louise Nevelson, who died in 1988.
Review: "Occupant" (NY1)
'Occupant' Portrays Louise Nevelson With Humor, Gusto (Hartford Courant)
Albee crafts portrait of sculptor (Star-Ledger)
Theater review: 'Occupant' (Bergen Record)
Edward Albee looks for the real Louise Nevelson in off-Broadway play (Associated Press)
Edward Albee's Occupant reviewed by David A. Rosenberg (Back Stage)
Judging from Occupant, Edward Albee is still angry and adamant, but this time he closes off the dramatic conflict.
Review: Occupant (Variety)
With any luck you turn into whoever you want to be, and with even better luck you turn into whoever you should be. No, you got somebody in you right from the start, and if you're lucky you figure out who it is and you become it." That contorted philosophy of identity, articulated by sculptor Louise Nevelson, is as good a summation as any of Edward Albee's enigmatic character study, "Occupant." Delving again into the vast blur between truth and illusion, the playwright investigates the complex process of self-invention, reflecting on the way artists create their work and themselves.
Mercedes Ruehl Gives Edward Albee's `Occupant' a Second Chance: John Simon (Bloomberg.com)
"Edward Albee's Occupant'' -- a play whose title advertises its author is already in trouble -- is revived by Midtown Manhattan's Signature Theatre Company, where its 2002 premiere may have been handicapped by Anne Bancroft's prolonged illness. This time round, with those troupers Mercedes Ruehl and Larry Bryggman, the only handicap is the play itself.
A 'Lion' Roars in Chicago (Wall Street Journal)
...In New York, Edward Albee's "Occupant," falls somewhat awkwardly -- if interestingly -- between balancing history and creativity.
Review: Edward Albee's Occupant (TheaterMania)
Mercedes Ruehl stars as sculptor Louise Nevelson in this unsatisfactory bio-play.
Review: Occupant (Talkin' Broadway)
....it’s also the neon-tinged theme statement of his witty and wonderful play Occupant, which is at last seeing its long-delayed Signature Theatre Company debut at Peter Norton Space....
Review: 'Occupant' (CurtainUp)
From start to finish, it's impossible to take your eyes of Mercedes Ruehl in Edward Albee's Occupant, which opened last night at Signature Theatre Company. Playing modern abstract sculptress Louise Nevelson, Ruehl enters wearing a battered fur coat, under which she sports a huge crazy quilt top that hangs to her knees. When she enters, Ruehl wears a huge black hat, which when removed, reveals her head is wrapped in a gray scarf. Around her neck, there's a sculpted necklace that resembles a small breast plate. Oh, and yes, she sports the false eyelashes – two pair – that Nevelson, who preferred sable lashes, wore.
After one warms to Ruehl's presence in Occupant , which is a two-hour interview with Nevelson from the afterlife conducted by Man (played with muted flair by Larry Bryggman), you focus less on her appearance and more on Ruehl's command of the stage. It begins with her hands, which seem to be powerful talons, which can clutch a pint-sized glass of water as if it were a weapon. She doesn't cross the stage, she strides across it, and as Nevelson, prompted and questioned by Man, relates biographical details of her life, Ruehl can quickly morph from a woman of remarkable strength who surmounted some pretty substantial obstacles to a woman seemingly devastated by guilt, remorse and confusion.
For pure biography on this woman, who was born in Russia and came to this country as a child, you might do better to pick up a copy of one of the many books that have been written about Nevelson. While details are rich in here, they are not the primary focus of Albee's play. Instead, the playwright, who, once in attempting to interview the artist for a catalog that would accompany a retrospective of her work at the Whitney, found she'd delivered a tape filled with 60 minutes of silence, investigates how Nevelson, and by extension, most people, reinvent themselves. As the interview proceeds, Man, sometimes jovially, sometimes pointedly, sometimes in sheer frustration, attempts to pry the "truth" from his subject. For instance, was her marriage to shipping magnate Charles Nevelson a financial arrangement designed to move Louise "up" the social ladder? What truth is there to a story she told about having seen, as a child, a black horse running wild in Maine? It's a image that she says convinced her that she must be "free." How could Nevelson, at 11, be thinking in metaphors Man questions.
Even as the play (and Man) attempts to find the answers these and other questions, you come to realize why Albee has chosen to focus a play on her. Events in her life echo many of the concerns and issues raised in his plays. She was a distant mother, who packed her son off to live with her family or in boarding schools. She was an outsider who felt that she was marginalized both personally and professionally by the mainstream. Even her alcoholism brings to mind specters of George and Martha in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
It's a rich mix and it's impossible not to anticipate some sort of volcanic confrontation brewing during the first act of the piece, which has been directed with sure-handed grace by Pam McKinnon. There's enough friction between the two the one feels certain that there will come a moment when Nevelson and Man come to blows, even if they are of a verbal nature. (Early games of semantics in Occupant seem to presage this.) But, while Albee provides a certain climax (with the help of scenic designer Christine Jones) as Nevelson describes the moment in which she had her epiphany about the art she would create, it's a quiet, almost too subtle, one. It's almost as if the characters – who at times do feel like combatants – are too genteel to allow their behavior and interaction to match the flamboyance of Louise's outward appearance or her inner life. In point of fact, Albee, never one to compromise, has allowed his play to reach its natural, and honest, conclusion, resulting in a play that's for the mind and ear and one that leaves the flash, primarily, to Louise Nevelson's appearance.
Occupant plays at Signature Theatre (555 West 42nd Street). Performances through June 29 are Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm; with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2pm. During the week July 1 – 6, performances are Tuesday at 7pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8pm; Thursday at 8pm; Saturday at 2 and 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling 212-244-PLAY (7529) or online at www.signaturetheatre.org.