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Don’t miss this summer special Clips & Conversation with Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, two of American theatre and cinema’s most ingenious provocateurs, André Gregory and Wallace Shawn, and actress Lisa Joyce.

New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik moderates a discussion about their modern take on Henrik Ibsen’s play A Master Builder. The story concerns a successful, egomaniacal architect who has spent a lifetime bullying his wife, employees and mistresses, but who nonetheless wants to make peace with himself as his life approaches its final act. Working from his own translation of the Norwegian text, Wallace Shawn gives a tour-de-force performance as the cruel, yet guilt-ridden architect. Jonathan Demme’s direction is based on the near-legendary production created for the stage by André Gregory, developed over a 14-year period. Lisa Joyce plays a sensual, mysterious young visitor who turns the household upside down, much to the consternation of Julie Hagerty, perfectly cast as the long-suffering wife. This is Scandinavian angst reinterpreted by New York’s finest filmmakers.

Bios

(Click the names below to expand info.)

André Gregory

André Gregory has been one of the most important forces in the American theatre for nearly forty years. Gregory was one of the original creators of the regional theatre movement, the off-Broadway movement in New York, and with his partner Wallace Shawn, the American independent film movement.

He headed the Inner-City Cultural Center, a theatre in Watts founded right after the Watts riots to bring theatre to underprivileged teenagers. He was co-creator of the Seattle Repertory Theatre and Artistic Director of the Philadelphia Theatre of the Living Arts, where his productions included Galileo, Poor Bitos, Beclch and Endgame.

His production of The Blacks ran for years in New York and featured now legendary performers James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, Lou Gossett and Maya Angelou. His production of Alice in Wonderland played for seven years, as well as touring the U.S., Europe and the Mideast, and was made into a book in collaboration with photographer Richard Avedon.

His forty-year collaboration with Wallace Shawn began with his critically acclaimed production of Shawn's Our Late Night, at Joseph Papp's Public Theater. Shawn and Gregory went on to create My Dinner With André, directed by Louis Malle. The partnership of Shawn, Malle and Gregory later created Vanya on 42nd Street. In 1999, Gregory directed Shawn's play, The Designated Mourner, in an abandoned men's club in Lower Manhattan. His most recent production of Endgame—over the years he's done three—was performed in an unfinished Donald Judd building in the middle of the Marfa Texas desert in 2005. In 2009 he directed Grasses of a Thousand Colors, also by Shawn, at the Royal Court Theatre in London, and in 2011 directed Shawn's adaptation of Ibsen's Master Builder Solness.

As an actor, Gregory has performed in a dozen films, including The Last Temptation of Christ by Martin Scorsese, Mosquito Coast by Peter Weir and Celebrity by Woody Allen. He wrote a play called Bone Songs that he performed at Redcat in Los Angeles and at 92nd Street Y in New York in 2006. For the last five years he has been studying drawing, and it has become a new passion.

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Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn, who translated Ibsen’s play The Master Builder for André Gregory and wrote the screenplay for the Jonathan Demme film A Master Builder which is based on Gregory’s theatrical production, also plays the part of Halvard Solness in the film. Shawn co-wrote the Louis Malle film My Dinner With André with André Gregory. He is a playwright whose plays include The Designated Mourner, Aunt Dan and Lemon, and The Fever. He has acted in many films, including Woody Allen’s Manhattan, Louis Malle’s My Dinner With André and Vanya On 42nd Street, Amy Heckerling’s Clueless and Richard Ayoade’s The Double. Shawn's opera The Music Teacher, with a libretto by Wallace, was produced by The New Group in New York in 2006, directed by Tom Cairns, and Wallace's translation of The Threepenny Opera was directed by Scott Elliott at the Roundabout in the same year. In 2009 the Royal Court Theatre in London did a season of Wallace's plays, and his book of essays, called Essays, was published by the stalwartly left-wing Haymarket Books. As an actor, Wallace was a recurring character on "Gossip Girl," and has frightened viewers of "The Good Wife" as the disturbing Charles Lester. In 2013, André Gregory directed Wallace's plays The Designated Mourner and Grasses of a Thousand Colors at the Public Theater in New York, co-produced by the Public Theater and Theatre For A New Audience.

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Lisa Joyce

Born and raised in Chicago, Lisa Joyce received her BFA in Acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University. Shortly after graduating, she received a Joseph Jefferson nomination for her performance in Adam Rapp’s Red Light Winter, which premiered at Steppenwolf before transferring off-Broadway and being named a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize. Since moving to NY, Lisa has worked extensively in theatre, film and television. She made her West End/Broadway debut in La Bete and toured nationally in the Tony Award winning production of Doubt. Some of her favorite Off-Broadway and regional credits include; Nora and Delia Ephron’s Love, Loss and What I Wore, The Ugly One at Soho Rep (Drama Desk nomination) and Blackbird at The Studio Theatre in D.C. (Helen Hayes Award). Lisa’s television and film credits include: "The Following" (recurring), "Boardwalk Empire" (recurring), "The Good Wife," "Fringe," "Law and Order," "Law and Order: SVU," "The Brave One," "The Messenger" and "Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight," (HBO).

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Jonathan Demme

Jonathan Demme (Director) has produced and directed over 29 feature films including Rachel Getting Married, The Manchurian Candidate, Beloved, The Agronomist, The Silence of the Lambs (for which he won an Academy Award and the New York Film Critics Best Director), Philadelphia, Married to the Mob, Something Wild, Swimming to Cambodia and Melvin and Howard, for which he was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics. Additional producing credits include Devil in a Blue Dress, Household Saints, That Thing You Do!, Ulee’s Gold and Adaptation.

Demme’s films have been nominated for 20 Academy Awards. The Silence of the Lambs received five Academy Awards in 1991—for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay Adaptation. His films have won screenplay Oscars twice, Melvin and Howard (Best Original Screenplay, 1980) and The Silence of the Lambs (Best Screenplay Adaptation, 1991), and two of the Best Actor awards of the 1990s went to Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) and Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, 1993), with Jodie Foster receiving the Best Actress award (The Silence of the Lambs, 1991) as well.

Demme, a strong advocate of human rights, has also produced and directed a number of documentaries about the Haitian plight, including The Agronomist; Haiti: Dreams of Democracy; Haiti: Killing the Dream; Tonbe Leve; and Courage and Pain. In addition, he directed the documentary Cousin Bobby, and produced the Academy Award-nominated biography Mandela as well as Into the Rope!, about Double Dutch; The Uttmost, a portrait of producer Kenny Utt; and One Foot on a Banana Peel, the Other Foot in the Grave, about living with AIDS. He also produced the Peabody Award-winning documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, about the life of Beah Richards.

Demme’s creative talents have also lured him into the music domain. He released the acclaimed concert film Neil Young: Heart of Gold, in 2006, re-teaming with Neil Young, with whom he worked on The Complex Sessions, the 1994 film featuring six songs from the “Sleeps with Angels” album. Demme’s follow-up film, Neil Young Trunk Show was released in 2010 and Neil Young Journeys released in 2012 completed a Neil Young trilogy.

His most recent documentary is of renowned Neapolitan saxophonist and singer/songwriter Enzo Avitabile. The film, Enzo Avitabile Music Life premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 and has recently been released.

He directed the Robyn Hitchcock concert film Storefront Hitchcock as well as the award-winning Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense. In addition, Demme has directed music videos for Bruce Springsteen, Les Frères Parent, The Neville Brothers, New Order, KRS-One and the Feelies, among others. He also produced Konbit, an album of Haitian music.

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Adam Gopnik

Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986 and his work for the magazine has won both the National Magazine Award for Essay and the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. He’s also the author of many books including The King in the Window, Americans in Paris, Paris to the Moon, Through the Children’s Gate, Angels and Ages, Steps Across the Water and Table Comes First, his culinary manifesto.

 

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