The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and Deaf West Theatre (DWT), the performing arts organizations behind the Tony Award-nominated and Ovation Award-winning revival of Spring Awakening, reunite to bring multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo to life in an innovative and new production. Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo begins previews on March 7 and will open in the Lovelace Studio Theater at The Wallis on Friday, March 10. It will run through March 26. This production is made possible by the generous support of Meeghan and Michael Nemeroff.
Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo combines Albee’s groundbreaking 1959 short play The Zoo Story with his acclaimed prequel Homelife written in 2004. Together these short plays form Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo, the complete story of publishing executive Peter, his wife Ann, and Jerry, the volatile stranger Peter meets in the park. The Wallis’ Artistic Associate Coy Middlebrook revisits his celebrated 2007 Deaf West Theatre production of The Zoo Story, with the new addition of Homelife. The cast includes deaf and hearing actors including Troy Kotsur as Peter and Jake Eberle as the voice of Peter, as well as Amber Zion as Ann and Paige Lindsey White as the voice of Ann. Russell Harvard will play the role of Jerry from March 7 – 15; Tyrone Giordano will play the role of Jerry from March 16-26, and Jeff Alan-Lee will voice the role of Jerry throughout the run.
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Deaf West Theatre after the great success of Spring Awakening,” said Paul Crewes, The Wallis’ Artistic Director. “Edward Albee was one of the great American playwrights, and this particular piece explores ongoing themes across his own career, combining two master works—The Zoo Story and Homelife —that really bookend Albee’s life. This collaboration between The Wallis and Deaf West Theatre will be a powerful and engaging theatrical experience for all.”
“The success that came from Spring Awakening has renewed our vigor in educating the world at large about our language and our culture while also advancing the appreciation of sign language theater,” said Deaf West Theatre’s Artistic Director DJ Kurs. “It’s the projects like Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo that excite me the most. We are not only adapting one of the classic works of the American stage but also performing it before an audience that, more than ever, is unified in an understanding and appreciation of what deaf actors bring to the material.”
About Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo
Originally titled Peter & Jerry, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo combines Albee’s classic short play The Zoo Story (1959) with its prequel, Homelife (2004). The play begins with Homelife, and offers a revealing look at Peter and Ann’s arid marriage, their missed attempts to communicate and the loneliness within their shared life. The tension escalates in the next act, The Zoo Story. While reading on a Central Park bench, a stranger walks up to Peter and declares that he has “been to the zoo!” The man, Jerry, begins to tell tale after tale, probing deep into Peter’s life and attempting to take the bench for himself.
According to Albee himself, combining the two works into a two-act play was very simple. He said The Zoo Story had “always had been (a two-act play); I just hadn’t told myself. When I wrote The Zoo Storyin 1958, it was my first play, so to speak. Oh, I’d made a few attempts—including an embarrassing two-act play in rhymed couplets—but nothing pleased me. No, I must be fair—it was junk, all of it.
“The Zoo Story seemed to be a much better piece—in fact, the first I felt had any individuality and merit. It would seem I was right. It has gone on to have—at this writing—49 years of frequent performances and general acceptance.
“And...I thought it was fine, though it nagged me just a bit that it seemed to be not quite a two- character play—Jerry being so much longer a role—but more a one-and-a-half-character one. But the play “worked,” so why worry?
“Six years ago, however, I said to myself, ‘here’s a first act here somewhere which will flesh out Peter fully and make the subsequent balance better.’
“Almost before I knew it, Homelife fell from my mind to the page...intact. There was the Peter I had always known—a full three-dimensional person and—wow!—here was Ann, his wife, whom I must have imagined deep down, forty-some years ago, but hadn’t brought to consciousness.”
When reviewing the newly combined work in 2007, The New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley said “what makes (At Home at the Zoo) such an essential and heartening experience is the chance it affords to compare the dramatis of then and now...there are telling differences in inflection and timber between these creations of a man in his 20’s and his 70’s. But there is no mistaking that they are products of one enduring and consistent voice, a voice unparalleled in American theater for its surgical elegance in exploring the animal in humanity.”
Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo (Zoo Story) is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.
Single tickets are now available for $40 – $75. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit TheWallis.org, call 310.746.4000, or stop by in person at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Ticket Services located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Ticket prices subject to change.