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Actress Marsha Mason To Appear In Hecuba

Marsha Mason Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Chicago Shakespeare Theater announced an exciting addition to its spring season. CST will produce the American Premiere of Hecuba, a new adaptation of Euripides' tragedy, written by world-renowned playwright Frank McGuinness. Tony Award-winning director Patrick Mason, in his Chicago directorial debut, stages the production featuring Marsha Mason, in the theater Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare, April 26 through June 18, 2006.

Written by Euripides (480-406 B.C.) throughout one of the most devastating wars in Greek history, Hecuba was a controversial play from its inception. More than two thousand years later, one of Ireland's great contemporary playwrights, Frank McGuinness, explores the tragedy beyond war's end with his adaptation of this disturbing, heart wrenching story. 'War does more terrible things to people than depriving them of children," explains McGuinness. 'War can turn you into your enemy." Director Patrick Mason says, 'Plays like this ask questions. There are some stories that have to be told and Hecuba says more about what is going on around us than most of our stories at the moment."

One of the most respected writers of his generation, award-winning playwright and poet Frank McGuinness has written an extensive list of original works, adaptations, and translations for film and theater. His Broadway credits include: Someone Who'll Watch Over Me (New York Critics Circle Award, Writers Guild Award for Best Play), a new interpretation of A Doll's House (1994 four-time Tony Award-winning production), and a new adaptation of Sophocles' Electra. In 1986, McGuinness received the London Evening Standard Theater Award for Most Promising Playwright and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for his play Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme. His play Dolly West's Kitchen was nominated for the BBC Award for Best New Play at the Laurence Olivier Theatre Awards.

Internationally renowned director Patrick Mason (no relation to Marsha Mason) makes his Chicago directorial debut with Hecuba. His Broadway production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa garnered three 1992 Tony Awards, including Best Direction of a Play and Best Play, and the 1992 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Director of a Play. Mr. Mason's longtime collaboration with Ireland's Abbey Theatre began when he joined the company as a director in 1977 and served as Artistic Director from 1993 to 1999. Mason's canon of directorial work at both the Abbey and Peacock Theatre's includes: The Great Hunger (which subsequently toured around the world); Angels in America; The Winter's Tale; Macbeth; The Importance of Being Earnest; Saint Joan; and several Frank McGuinness-penned plays, including: Baglady, Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, The Factory Girls, and Dolly West's Kitchen.

Throughout her illustrious career, Marsha Mason has cultivated a diverse catalogue of characters—both vulnerable and powerful—on stage and screen. Ms. Mason's comprehensive list of theater credits includes roles in classic and contemporary plays, including Broadway productions of Cactus Flower, Neil Simon's The Good Doctor, Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana, and in the recent revival of Steel Magnolias as Ouiser. At the Haymarket Theatre on London's West End, Mason appeared opposite Richard Dreyfuss in The Prisoner of Second Avenue. Off-Broadway and regional credits include, among many: Richard III, Amazing Grace, Twelfth Night, The Crucible, The Merchant of Venice, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Audiences worldwide recognize Ms. Mason from her critically acclaimed and award-winning career in film, including star turns in: The Goodbye Girl, Cinderella Liberty, Only When I Laugh, Promises in the Dark, Chapter Two, Heartbreak Ridge, and Nick of Time. Ms. Mason's bestselling autobiography, Journey: A Personal Odyssey, was published in 2000.

The classic Greek tale tells the story of Hecuba—widow to the defeated Trojan king and slave to the conquering Greek King Agamemnon—surviving as the embodiment of post-war fallout. She has lost her country, most of her children, and her husband. She learns of the death of her youngest son—murdered for gold by his protector and friend—and of her daughter, soon to be sacrificed to honor the fallen hero, Achilles. The war is over but the violence continues. Hecuba becomes the unspeakable horror she has been forced to endure, and revenge consumes her.

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