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Blackbird at ACT, West Coast Premiere 4/27 - 5/27


April 27, 2007

By Eugene Lovendusky

American Conservatory Theater is proud to present the West Coast premiere "Blackbird," written by David Harrower, and directed by Loretta Greco April 27 through May 27. An intimate and unflinching portrait of two individuals destroyed by an illicit love, "Blackbird" officially opens Wednesday, May 2 at 8PM.

"A no-holds-barred drama reminiscent of Nabokov's Lolita and the works of Harold Pinter, "Blackbird" takes place over the course of one evening in the back room of an industrial warehouse," states press notes, "Late one evening, as Ray goes about his job in a life he has newly rebuilt for himself, in barges Una, a young woman to whom he has not spoken since the end of their affair more than a dozen years earlier. As Una and Ray bitterly and violently clash over the nature of their earlier relationship, their all-consuming need to understand the events of their past leads to an overwhelming and at times shocking demonstration of how far they will go to find the truth. A compassionate portrait of a very human pair of souls locked in a relationship that blurs the lines between lust, love, and something far more sinister." Due to controversial and sensitive subject matter, ACT's production of "Blackbird" is recommended for audiences 16 and older.

The cast of "Blackbird" features Steven Culp as Ray and Jessi Campbell as Una. Best known for portraying Rex Van De Camp in ABC's hit television series "Desperate Housewives," Culp starred as Joe Pitt from the ACT's long-running production of Tony Kushner's "Angels in America". Campbell was recently seen in the world premiere of "Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen" at Manhattan's Women's Project (a production directed by Loretta Greco), and has appeared in recent productions of "Inky," "Eikon," "Twelfth Night," "Marisol," and "Don Juan Comes Back from the War".

Playwright David Harrower began developing "Blackbird" after reading of a well-documented, real-life drama. In 2003, former United States marine Toby Studabaker met a 12-year-old girl from Manchester, England, in an internet chat room. After meeting in person, the couple fled to Europe. Though she allegedly never revealed her true age, Studabaker claimed he thought the girl was 19. He was eventually arrested by her side in Germany. In April 2004, Studebaker was sentenced to a four-year prison sentence to be served in the UK.

The American premiere production of "Blackbird" is currently playing through April at Manhattan Theatre Club in Manhattan, New York. The production features Jeff Daniels and Allison Pill and is directed by Joe Mantello.

The design team for ACT's production of "Blackbird" includes Robert Brill (sets), Russell H. Champa (lights), David F. Draper (costumes), and Jake Rodriguez (sound).

Tickets ($13.50-$81.50) can be purchased at ACT Ticket Services, located at 405 Geary Street, 415-749-2228; or via the ACT website, Groups of 15 or more people are eligible for discounts; please call 415-439-2473.

The American Conservatory Theatre is located at 415 Geary Street San Francisco, CA 94108.

Performances: Tuesdays - Saturdays at 8PM (except May 8 at 7PM); Wednesdays, Saturdays & Sundays at 2PM (no matinees April 29 or May 2 & 12). Additional performance Sunday, May 6 at 7PM.

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