Kathleen Turner-Led The Year of Magical Thinking Begins Tonight at Arena Stage

Oct 8, 2016
The Year of Magical Thinking

Iconic stage and screen actress and Academy Award and Tony Award nominee Kathleen Turner returns to Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater to star in Joan Didion's one-woman drama The Year of Magical Thinking, adapted from her 2005 bestselling memoir of the same title.

Turner, who previously appeared in Arena Stage's Mother Courage and Her Children and Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, portrays the writer in Didion's penetrating and moving examination of grief. Gaye Taylor Upchurch (Studio Theatre's Animal) makes her Arena Stage directorial debut in the company's most intimate venue, the 200-seat Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. The Year of Magical Thinking runs tonight, October 7, through November 20, 2016. "The Year of Magical Thinking is a powerful play," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Joan Didion was confronted with extreme personal loss and has bravely shared her story. Our production stars Kathleen, who intimately understands this story and will take the audience gently by the hand as she navigates this story of grief and transition. She is a superb actor and I know her performance will be unforgettable." In this dramatic adaptation of her memoir, which The New York Times called "an indelible portrait of loss and grief...a haunting portrait of a four-decade-long marriage," Didion chronicles the sudden death of her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, and illness of her only daughter. Her first-person account weaves together an intensely personal yet universal story of hope in the face of inescapable loss. "It is a play about grief, yes, but the rigorous assessing of grief and its effects, as delivered by the incomparable Kathleen Turner, is in fact an incredible act of generosity," adds Upchurch. "Kathleen's grit and grace and sly sense of humor are fantastically paired with Joan Didion's no-holds-barred piece. I feel honored to be plumbing the depths of this gorgeous work with her at Arena Stage." "I am drawn to this piece by the exquisite writing and inherent grace that I hope to be able to share with others," says Turner. Joan Didion (Playwright) won the 2005 National Book Award for The Year of Magical Thinking, one of 13 books she has written. Her other books include Play It As It Lays, Democracy, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album, Salvador, Miami and Political Fictions. With her husband, John Gregory Dunne, she wrote the screenplays for The Panic in Needle Park with Al Pacino; True Confessions with Robert De Niro and Robert Duvall; A Star Is Born with Barbra Streisand; and Up Close & Personal with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert Redford. She received the 2005 Gold Medal in Nonfiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, 1996 Edward MacDowell Medal, 1999 Columbia Journalism Award and 2002 George Polk Book Award. She contributes to various periodicals, most frequently The New York Review of Books. Kathleen Turner (Joan Didion) returns to Arena Stage following Mother Courage and Her Children and Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. Her Broadway credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Tony nomination); Indiscretions; The Graduate; Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Tony nomination); and High (also national tour). As a screen icon, Kathleen has garnered critical acclaim for her performances in films including Body Heat (Golden Globe nomination); Romancing the Stone and Prizzi's Honor (Golden Globe Award for each); Peggy Sue Got Married (Academy and Golden Globe nominations); and The War of the Roses (Golden Globe nomination). Additional film credits include The Man with Two Brains, The Jewel of the Nile, The Accidental Tourist, V.I. Warshawski, Serial Mom, Naked in New York, Moonlight and Valentino, The Real Blonde and The Virgin Suicides. She had a starring role in the 2011 film The Perfect Family and a recurring role on Showtime's Californication. Kathleen's 2008 autobiography Send Yourself Roses: Thoughts on My Life, Love, and Leading Roles secured a position on the New York Times best seller list. Gaye Taylor Upchurch (Director) directed the Off-Broadway productions of Nancy Harris' Our New Girl and Simon Stephens' Harper Regan and Bluebird with Simon Russell Beale (Atlantic Theater Company), Bethany with America Ferrera (Women's Project Theater, Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding Play) and Lucy Thurber's Stay (Rattlestick, Obie Award for play cycle The Hill Town Plays). She recently directed the world premiere of Clare Lizzimore's Animal (Studio Theatre, Helen Hayes nominations for Outstanding Director and Outstanding New Play), and regionally, directed the world premieres of Anna Ziegler's The Last Match (Old Globe) and Melissa Ross' Of Good Stock (South Coast Repertory). Her production of As You Like It (Hudson Valley Shakespeare) will be reimagined for Folger Theatre this winter. Gaye Taylor is an alumna of The Drama League and University of NC School of the Arts. The creative team for The Year of Magical Thinking includes Set Designer Daniel Zimmerman, Costume Designer Kathleen Geldard, Lighting Designer Jesse Belsky, Original Music & Sound Designer Roc Lee, Stage Manager Kurt Hall and Stage Management Assistant Emily Mellon. For more about the production, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/the-year-of-magical-thinking.

Special Events: Post-Show Conversation Connect with our shows beyond the performance at a post-show conversation with artists and staff on November 1 following the 7:30 p.m. performance; November 3 following the 8:00 p.m. performance; and November 9 and 15 following the noon performance. Tickets for The Year of Magical Thinking are $40-90, subject to change and based on availability, plus applicable fees. For information on savings programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, Southwest Nights and hero's discounts, visit arenastage.org/shows-tickets/single-tickets/savings-programs. Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C. Full calendar of performance dates: tickets.arenastage.org/single/PSDetail.aspx?psn=22700. Open-captioned performances: 11/2 at 7:30 p.m. Audio-described performances: 10/29 at 2:00 p.m.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Executive Director Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces plays of all that is passionate, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays through the American Voices New Play Institute. Arena Stage impacts the lives of over 10,000 students annually through its work in community engagement. Now in its seventh decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 300,000. For more, visit arenastage.org.