Even as his latest book attracts international attention, Pulitzer Prize-winner Lawrence Wright premieres his new play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. A reporter renowned for his work with The New Yorker - and the bestselling author behind The Looming Tower and Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief - Wright is also the playwright who penned My Trip to al Qaeda and The Human Scale. Now he debuts a fictional play about the last days of legendary journalist Oriana Fallaci. Don't miss this sizzling new script, which is directed by Oskar Eustis, stars Concetta Tomei and Marjan Neshat, and features an incredible team of designers. The 65th world premiere presented by Berkeley Rep, Fallaci begins previews in the Roda Theatre on March 8, opens March 13, and runs through April 21.
"Oriana Fallaci was a hero of mine," Wright remarks. "She was dazzling and fearless and she made journalism seem like the most exciting job on earth - no doubt, one of the reasons I went into that profession. But after 9/11, she turned her formidable intellect on Islam, a subject that I was also exploring at the time, with my book The Looming Tower. The argument that you see between Oriana and Miryam onstage mirrors the quarrel I have in my mind with my former idol, who still has the power to explode comfortable dogmas. It's a pleasure to have the opportunity to present this play at Berkeley Rep, which has been so supportive in the development of a play that is bound to engender controversy and arouse strong opinions. But that's part of the joy of working in the theatre, one of the last refuges for the honest, brutal dialogue we so badly need."
"Whether reporting from a war zone or aggressively confronting the world's most powerful leaders, Fallaci continually thrust herself into the very vortex of human history," says Tony Taccone, artistic director of Berkeley Rep. "She became a darling of the left and one of the first rock stars of modern journalism - until the inflammatory books she wrote about Islam surprised everyone and made her a hero to the right. Now, armed with a tremendous amount of hard information about her, Lawrence Wright has applied his substantial talents as a journalist and dramatist to invent a story that gets beneath the facts. Producing Larry's play has also allowed me to exploit the skills of my good friend and colleague, Oskar Eustis. It is a great pleasure to welcome them to Berkeley Rep with this terrific cast and creative team."
The executive producers of Fallaci are Bill Falik and Diana Cohen and Frances Hellman and Warren Breslau. The Bernard Osher Foundation serves as production sponsor. The season producers are Wayne Jordan and Quinn Delaney, Marjorie Randolph, Jack and Betty Schafer, and the Strauch Kulhanjian Family. For the eighth straight year, BART and Wells Fargo serve as the official sponsors of Berkeley Rep's season - and now the San Francisco Chronicle has signed on as a season sponsor as well.
With Fallaci, Wright turns the spotlight on a fellow reporter and her fascinating contradictions. Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci was larger than life. Her childhood courage resisting the Nazis fueled her work as a war correspondent with an antiauthoritarian zeal that perfectly matched the '60s and '70s. She gained fame by grilling Kissinger, Castro, Khomeini, Qadaffi, and other public figures who squirmed under her ferocious questioning. In this world premiere, a young woman interviews the fiery author at the end of her life, when she became a darling of the right. What begins as a discussion of journalism ends with two women exchanging life-changing lessons about destiny and empathy.
"The journalist Lawrence Wright possesses a knack for clarifying complicated problems," notes the New York Times. "Obviously this comes in handy in his regular line of work, but it is just as useful in his secondary vocation, as a public raconteur trying to elucidate thorny topical issues from the unlikely pulpit of an Off Broadway stage." "Like that cool professor whose courses always fill up first, Wright is the kind of conveyer of wisdom who doesn't so much lecture as seduce," says the Washington Post.