Some people go to the theater to be inspired. Others want to be transported to another world. Then there are those who breathe a sigh of relief just to know that they are better off than the characters in the play.
August: Osage County, playing Oct. 5 through 14 at the White Plains Performing Arts Center (WPPAC) is about a dysfunctional family that, according to Artistic Director Jeremy Quinn, is “more screwed up than your own.” As they deal with alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery, incest and sexual improprieties, the play, with its beautifully drawn characters, feels to Quinn like “the most authentic portrayal of a family in the new millennium.”
But that is not the only reason it’s on the WPPAC playbill. Though you may have never heard of the play, it won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play.
But Quinn’s real drive is to bring Broadway to White Plains, not classic Broadway theatre, but the shows you may have wanted to see but missed…newer, contemporary shows for a contemporary city, many of which are cost effective to produce.
Here’s the psychology of his vision: Growing up in Florida, Quinn says, he had the beach in his backyard, but he didn’t go there much. In Westchester, folks have Broadway in their backyard, but may not go there often. Ergo, Quinn believes WPPAC can bring back those brilliant, short lifespan shows that have us saying, “I can’t believe I missed it.”
When it played on Broadway in 2007, the New York Times called it “the most exciting new American play Broadway has seen in years,” describing it as a “fiercely funny and bitingly sad…turbo-charged tragicomedy.” And just in time, it’s being turned into a movie starring Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep. The play ends with a line from TS Eliot: “So that’s the way the world ends.”
So, who knows? Maybe it ends with a movie.