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FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS - January 1996

DON'T MISS "TWO TRAINS"!

Commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday by joining us to discuss "Two Trains Running," by leading African American playwright August Wilson, Pulitzer Prize winner for "Fences" (1987) and "The Piano Lesson" (1990). Wilson, "a consummate story- teller" (Los Angeles Times), has set "Two Trains" in a 1969 Pittsburgh diner, amidst urban renewal and Black Power rallies. Time magazine considered "Two Trains Running" Wilson's "most mature work to date." The Washington Post called Wilson's characters "fully imagined," while Variety praised the play's "unassailable authenticity."

Our meeting will take place on Wednesday January 10, 1996, up- stairs at Carmella Kitty's, 1602 17th St., NW (at Q St., just east of DuPont Circle) (202-667-5937). Dinner starts at 6:30 p. m. and our discussion at 7:30. We will be joined by Howard University Professor Sandra Shannon, author of the recently published The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson (available at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave., NW). Footlights members can purchase "Two Trains Running" for a discount at Chapters, 1512 K St., NW (347-5495); Super Crown, 11 DuPont Circle, NW (319-1374); Olsson's, 1307 19th St., NW (785-1133); and Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW (364-1919).

Footlights will attend "Two Trains Running" on Sunday, January 14, 1996, at 2 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, 1333 P St., NW, in DC, about 6 blocks east of DuPont Circle. Tickets are $18.50 (a $5 discount) and include a post-performance discussion with members of the cast. Call Alan Friedman (202-244-8166) to learn if tickets are still available. We will distribute tickets near the box office just before the play begins.

"DEATH" APPROACHES

On Tuesday, February 13, Footlights will discuss what theater critics have called "one of the most powerful and affecting plays in American theatrical history": "Death of a Salesman," by Arthur Miller. One month later, on Wednesday, March 13, we will discuss a classic of early modern drama: "The Dance of Death," by August Strindberg, which we will attend on Tuesday, March 19 at Arena Stage. Check the next newsletter for further details. If our winter play selection gives you the shivers, remember that in January and March we are discussing playwrights named August.

EDWARD ALBEE AT THE NATIONAL PRESS CLUB

On November 29, several Footlights members attended a National Press Club luncheon featuring playwright Edward Albee, whose "A Delicate Balance" we discussed in October. In his address Albee reported having decided, at 6 years of age, that he was a writer. For 20 years he wrote poetry. His first produced play "The Zoo Story," finished on his 30th birthday, convinced Albee that he was a playwright.

Albee spoke at length about his parents, who adopted him at birth. Albee called them "bigoted, political and social reactionaries." Albee's father, "a quiet, passive man," had "maybe two conversations" with him during the 18 years before Albee left for college. As for his mother, Albee "did not like her much, could not abide her prejudices, her loathings, her paranoias." He and his mother "managed to make each other very unhappy over the years." Much of the dialogue of Albee's recent play "Three Tall Women" resembles things his adoptive mother actually said.

Albee is currently working on "The Play About the Baby," about which he would say only that it has four characters and two acts (Albee declined to give more detail on the grounds that "Any play that can be described in one or two sentences should be one or two sentences long."). To learn how you can obtain a tape or transcript of Albee's comments, call the National Press Club at 202-662-7500.