Master Builder Talkback

The artistic triumvirate of Jonathan Demme, André Gregory, and Wallace Shawn update Henrik Ibsen’s “The Master Builder,” a modern classic about a successful, egomaniacal architect who has spent a lifetime bullying his wife, employees and mistresses – who nonetheless wants to make peace with himself as his life approaches its final act. Wallace Shawn gives a tour-de-force performance as the cruel, yet guilt-ridden architect, working from his own translation of the Norwegian text. Jonathan Demme’s direction is based on the near-legendary production created for the stage by André Gregory, over a period of more than 10 years. Lisa Joyce plays a sensual, mysterious young visitor who turns the household upside down, much to the consternation of Julie Hagerty, perfectly cast as Shawn’s neurasthenic, long-suffering wife. Scandinavian angst — reinterpreted by New York’s finest. ( USA, 2014, 127 MINS., distributed by ABRAMORAMA, synopsis by Karen Cooper.)

“A Master Builder” is a continuation of Gregory and Shawn’s theatre work for film. In 1994, the two collaborated on Vanya on 42nd Street, filmed by Louis Malle and Andre Gregory, based on Vanya by Anton Chekhov, as adapted by David Mamet. Gregory and Shawn collaborated in the iconic 1981 independent film My Dinner With Andre. A Master Builder is distributed by Abramorama, Richard Abramowitz, New York.

The screening was followed by a discussion with Wallace Shawn, Marvin Carlson (The Graduate Center, CUNY), and Jim Leverett (Yale), moderated by Frank Hentschker (Martin Segal Theatre Center).

Syrian Drama: The Plays of Sa’dallah Wannous

On Monday, March 3, 2014, the Martin E. Segal Theatre Center presented “Syrian Drama: The Plays of Sa’dallah Wannous” at the Graduate Center, CUNY. Syrian playwright Sa’dallah Wannous (1941-1997) was a central figure in the Arabic theatre of the late twentieth century. His most important works began to appear in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, and were focused on positive social and political change in the region. The evening celebrates his first collection of works in English translation, Four Plays from Syria, published by the Segal Center (co-edited by Marvin Carlson & Safi Mahfouz, with translations by Marvin Carlson, Safi Mahfouz, Robert Myers, and Nada Saab). The evening will include excerpts of Wannous’ acclaimed play Rituals, the first Arab play in repertory at the Comédie Française. Followed by a discussion with co-editor GC CUNY Professor Marvin Carlson, Rituals translators Robert Myers (Professor of English, American University in Beirut) and Nada Saab (Assistant Professor of Literature at Lebanese American University), as well as Beirut-based actress and director Sahar Assaf (Lecturer in Theatre, American University in Beirut). Myers, Saab, and the Chicago-based theatre company Silk Road Rising received a MacArthur grant to translate Rituals in 2012. Reading produced by Arab-American company Noor Theatre.

Marvin Carlson — Interview

Professor Marvin Carlson is interviewed by Jorge Vaz de Carvalho. Lisbon Consortium, Summer School 2011