Ten years after their critically acclaimed collaboration on King Lear, Artistic Director Robert Falls and stage and screen star Stacy Keach-both 2015 Theater Hall of Fame inductees-reunite for the world premiere of Pamplona by Jim McGrath.
Keach stars as Ernest Hemingway, one of the most acclaimed novelists and short story writers of the 20th century, in this explosive tour de force drama, set during the author’s haunted years following his Pulitzer and Nobel Prize honors. Pamplona marks Keach’s second exploration of the literary legend: he earned a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of Hemingway in the eponymous 1988 television mini-series.
Pamplona appears May 19 – June 18 in the Owen Theatre. Tickets ($20-60, subject to change) go on sale Monday, February 20 at 10am online at GoodmanTheatre.org and at 12 noon by telephone, 312.443.3800, or in person at the Goodman Box Office (170 N. Dearborn). Note: The previously-announced Lady in Denmark by Dael Orlandersmith will be rescheduled TBA; Goodman subscribers will receive tickets to Pamplona.
“I am honored to work with Stacy on the world premiere of Jim McGrath’s beautifully rendered work about one of our most charismatic yet complicated literary titans-and a Chicagoland native-Ernest Hemingway,” said Robert Falls who, in addition to King Lear (2006), also directed Keach in Arthur Miller‘s Finishing the Picture (2004). “Stacy is a voracious reader, and Hemingway has fascinated him for a long time. The opportunity to dive deep with him to reveal this troubled artist and amazing man-at once a father, husband, lover, wartime correspondent and adventurer-is thrilling.”
In McGrath’s new play, after the prize comes the pressure. Basking in the glory of career-defining awards-the 1953 Pulitzer Prize and the coveted Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954-legendary writer Ernest Hemingway insists his best work is yet to come. Five years later, holed up in a Spanish hotel with a looming deadline, he struggles to knock out a story about the rivalrous matadors of Pamplona. But his real battles lie outside the bullfighting arena; in declining health, consumed by his troubled fourth marriage and tormented by the specter of past glories, he must now conquer the deepening despair that threatens to engulf him.
“My fascination with Hemingway began when I was a student at the University of California at Berkeley, where I read In Our Time. I felt as if the author was inside my head, expressing himself with words and attitudes that reflected how I felt-and I became inspired to read everything he wrote,” said Stacy Keach. “When I played him in the 1980s, I was somewhat intimidated; I felt simply too young to fully appreciate the emotional turmoil he had experienced, due to his failing health and his inability to continue writing. This is why I am so excited with the prospect of revisiting this literary giant now, at the right age to fully explore the essence of his later years. The opportunity to work with Bob, with whom I’ve been blessed to collaborate twice before, and work again at Goodman Theatre-so close to where Hemingway grew up-is perfect.”
Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) was born in Oak Park, IL, and got his start as a journalist writing for The Kansas City Star after attending Oak Park and River Forest High School. Shortly after, he joined the Red Cross during World War I, receiving the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery in 1918 for assisting soldiers, an experience that would inspire one of his most beloved works A Farewell to Arms (1929). Following the war, he spent time in Paris, befriending the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and published his first collection of stories Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923). Next came his first novel The Sun Also Rises (1926), about a group of British and American expatriates traveling to Pamplona, Spain. Among his many other great works are the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Old Man and the Sea, For the Whom Bell Tolls (Pulitzer Prize nomination), Green Hills of Africa, Death in the Afternoon and To Have and Have Not. On assignment, Hemingway was also present for some of World War II’s most noted events including the liberation of Paris, and received a Bronze Star for bravery for his coverage of the war. Following the war, he spent an extensive amount of time in Cuba and in 1954, shortly after publishing The Old Man and the Sea, received the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hemingway was married four times, often tumultuously, to Elizabeth Hadley Richardson, Pauline Pfeiffer, Martha Gelhorn and Mary Welsh Hemingway. He had three sons, Jack, Patrick and Gregory. Troubled by financial issues, familial burdens and alcohol abuse, Hemingway took his own life in Idaho in 1961.
Stacy Keach has maintained a series of performances in motion picture and television projects while continuing to add to his significant achievements on the stage-both classical and Broadway. His most recent motion pictures are director Stephen Gaghan’s Gold, starring Matthew McConaughy, EdgaR Ramirez, and Bryce Dallas Howard, and Gotti with John Travolta. Other recent films are Truth (with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford), Stephen King‘s, Cell, (with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson,) and Netflix’s Girlfriend’s Day, starring and directed by Bob Odenkirk. His filmography includes John Huston‘s Fat City, co-starring Jeff Bridges, Alexander Payne‘s Academy Award nominated big screen drama, Nebraska, If I Stay, Bourne Supremacy, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, The Ninth Configuration, The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, Doc, Up In Smoke, American History and the classic western, The Long-Riders, which he produced with his brother James Keach. Keach was one of the stars of the NBC comedy series, Crowded. He recently finished filming a few episodes of award winning Man With A Plan alongside Matt LeBlanc and Kevin Nealon. Prior television includes: Showtime’s Ray Donovan, Starz’s Blunt Talk, CBS’s, Blue Bloods, Fox’s Titus, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Two and a half Men, Prison Break, NCIS: New Orleans, and Hot In Cleveland. As a narrator his voice has been heard in countless documentaries and numerous books on tape. He is the narrator on CNBC’s American Greed. Keach has portrayed a constellation of the classic and Contemporary Stage‘s greatest roles, and he is considered a pre-eminent American interpreter of Shakespeare. His Shakespearian roles include Hamlet, Henry V, Coriolanus, Falstaff, Macbeth, Richard 3, and King Lear. He also headed the national touring company cast of Frost/Nixon, portraying Richard M. Nixon. Keach’s memoir All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the stage, received the Prism Literary Award. Other awards include: Golden Globe, three Obies, three Vernon Rices, two Drama Desks, three Helen Hayes, Emmy and Tony Award nominations, and he won the Prestigious Millineum Recognition Award, the Will Award. Keach was recently inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame, and received a Hollywood Film Award for Best Ensemble in the film Gold. He also received the 2016 Best Narrator from The Society of Voice Arts and Sciences in the category of Crime and Thriller for his work on Mike Hammer audio novels. Keach was a Fulbright scholar to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, attended the University of California at Berkeley and the Yale Drama School. Of his many accomplishments, Keach claims that his greatest accomplishment is his family: his wife of 30 years, Malgosia, and children Shannon and Karolina.
Jim McGrath’s first short play, Trail of the Westwoods Pewee, was presented at the West Bank Theatre in New York City in 1987. The next year saw the production of his first full-length play, Bob’s Guns, at the Director’s Company in New York. In 1992, New Jersey’s Passage Theatre produced his play Roebling Steel. In 1995, the Met Theatre in Los Angeles premiered The Ellis Jump, which won McGrath the Ovation Award for Best Writing of a World Premier Play. For television, he wrote detective stories for Simon & Simon, The Father Dowling Mysteries, Matlock, Mike Hammer and Over My Dead Body, as well as the children’s series Wishbone and Liberty Kids, science fiction series Quantum Leap, Codename Eternity and Dark Realm and the television films Elvis: The Early Years and Silver Bells (starring Anne Heche). He also co-wrote the screenplay for the feature film Kickboxer: Vengeance. In 2012, he produced and wrote the documentary Momo: The Sam Giancana Story, which won Best Documentary Awards at the Bel Air Film Festival and The Monaco International Film Festival. He has taught creative writing courses at Patton State Prison in San Bernardino, California State Home for Veterans in Los Angeles and The Center Theater in Chicago. He was trained as an artist leader with Imagination Workshop, by founders Margaret Ladd and Lyle Kessler in 1983, for which he worked with mentally ill and homeless clients for decades as a theater artist. In 2010, he became Executive Director of Imagination Workshop. McGrath is a native of Dallas, Texas. After graduating SMU, he attended Princeton Theological Seminary for two years before embarking on his playwriting career.
Robert Falls is celebrating 30 years as Goodman Theatre Artistic Director this season. His current production, Annie Baker‘s adaptation of Uncle Vanya, is on stage now in the Owen Theatre through March 12. Last season, he directed Rebecca Gilman‘s Soups, Stews, and Casseroles: 1976, and co-adapted/directed the world premiere of 2666, based on Roberto Bolaño’s internationally celebrated novel, earning a Jeff Award for Best Adaptation. Previous credits include the critically acclaimed production of The Iceman Cometh at the Brooklyn Academy Of Music; Gilman’s Luna Gale at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles; and a new production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Other recent productions include Measure for Measure and the world premiere of Beth Henley‘s The Jacksonian. Among his other credits are The Seagull, King Lear, Desire Under the Elms, John Logan‘s Red, Jon Robin Baitz‘s Three Hotels, Eric Bogosian‘s Talk Radio and Conor McPherson‘s Shining City; the world premieres of Richard Nelson‘s Frank’s Home, Arthur Miller‘s Finishing the Picture (his last play), Eric Bogosian‘s Griller, Steve Tesich‘s The Speed of Darkness and On the Open Road, John Logan‘s Riverview: A Melodrama with Music and Gilman’s A True History of the Johnstown Flood, Blue Surge and Dollhouse; the American premiere of Alan Ayckbourn‘s House and Garden and the Broadway production of Elton John and Tim Rice‘s Aida. Falls’ honors for directing include, among others, a Tony Award (Death of a Salesman), a Drama Desk Award (Long Day’s Journey Into Night), an Obie Award (subUrbia), a Helen Hayes Award (King Lear) and multiple Jeff Awards (including a 2012 Jeff Award for The Iceman Cometh). For “outstanding contributions to theater,” Mr. Falls has also been recognized with such prestigious honors as the Savva Morozov Diamond Award (Moscow Art Theatre), the O’Neill Medallion (Eugene O’Neill Society), the Distinguished Service to the Arts Award (Lawyers for the Creative Arts) and the Illinois Arts Council Governor’s Award.
America’s “Best Regional Theatre” (Time magazine) and “Chicago’s flagship resident stage” (Chicago Tribune), Goodman Theatre is a not-for-profit organization distinguished by the quality and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Founded in 1925, the Goodman is led by Robert Falls-“Chicago’s most essential director” (Chicago Tribune), who marks 30 years as Artistic Director this season-and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, who is celebrated for his vision and leadership over nearly four decades. Dedicated to new plays, reimagined classics and large-scale musical theater works, Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned hundreds of awards for artistic excellence, including: two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, nearly 160 Jeff Awards and more. Over the past three decades, audiences have experienced more than 150 world or American premieres, 30 major musical productions, as well as nationally and internationally celebrated productions of classic works (including Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman, Long Day’s Journey into Night, King Lear and The Iceman Cometh, many in collaboration with actor Brian Dennehy). In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson‘s “American Century Cycle.” For nearly four decades, the annual holiday tradition of A Christmas Carol has created a new generation of theatergoers.
The 2016 opening of the Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement (“the Alice”) launched the next phase in the Goodman’s decades-long commitment as an arts and community organization dedicated to educating Chicago youth and promoting lifelong learning. Programs are offered year-round and free of charge. Eighty-five percent of the Goodman’s youth program participants come from underserved communities.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, ReGina Taylor, Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. Joan Clifford is Chair of Goodman Theatre‘s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.