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A.C.T. Press Release: "The Quality of Life"

A.C.T. Announces Star-Studded Cast for Jane Anderson's The Quality of Life

Original award-winning cast members Dennis Boutsikaris, Laurie Metcalf, JoBeth Williams
joined by Steven Culp and Caroline Lagerfelt.

September 25, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 25, 2008—American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) announced casting for its production of "The Quality of Life" written and directed by acclaimed playwright Jane Anderson, a multiple Emmy Award–winning film and television writer and director ("The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio; Normal"). The ensemble features three members of the original award-winning cast of the Geffen Playhouse production: two time OBIE Award winner Dennis Boutsikaris, Laurie Metcalf ("Desperate Housewives, Roseanne"), and JoBeth Williams ("Poltergeist, The Big Chill") will be joined by Stephen Culp "(Desperate Housewives, "A.C.T.'s "Blackbird") and Caroline Lagerfelt ("Gossip Girl, "A.C.T.'s "Mary Stuart"). "I'm honored to have such an incredible team of actors as we bring this production to the Bay Area," says Anderson. "I've done extensive work on the script since its world premiere and having this unique mix of original cast and new members is the optimal way to take this play to its next incarnation."

This daring, star-studded cast explores hot-button issues of life and death in this riveting new play. When a religious Midwestern couple, Bill and Dinah, visit their free-spirited cousin Jeannette (alternately played by Metcalf and Lagerfelt) and her husband, Neil, both couples confront loss and survival in the face of explosive circumstance. An unforgettable, brave work of heart and humor, "The Quality of Life" was nominated for four 2007 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards and six 2007 Los Angeles Ovation Awards. Produced in association with the Geffen Playhouse and Jonathan Reinis Productions, "The Quality of Life "plays at A.C.T. October 24 through November 23, 2008. Press nights are Wednesday, October 29, 2008, at 8 p.m. (with Laurie Metcalf) and Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at 8p.m (with Caroline Lagerfelt). Tickets—starting at $14—are available by calling A.C.T. Ticket Services at 415.749.2228, or at

A.C.T. is thrilled to bring celebrated actors Lagerfelt and Metcalf to its stage to share the role of Jeannette—an opportunity that allows both actors to play this dynamic, demanding role while pursuing other professional and family commitments. "I can't wait to see how Laurie and Caroline, two enormously gifted actresses, put their own unique spin on this wildly complex character," adds Anderson. "Although the intent of the script will stay the same, it's going to be a different show every night. That's what makes live theater so exciting—all the marvelous variables that come with each performance."

Anderson found inspiration for the play from her brother's experience in the Mt. Vision fire of 1995, and set the play at Jeannette and Neil's makeshift encampment in the Oakland hills after a fire decimated their home. Against this haunting yet beautiful landscape, the couple must make difficult choices as Neil's cancer takes a turn for the worse, while Bill and Dinah struggle to find solace in their faith after the loss of their daughter. "The Quality of Life "explores our ability to transform and grow through personal tragedy as the two couples from different political and religious backgrounds confront these challenges together with honesty, compassion, and humor. "There's a terrible rift in this country between the far right and the far left," says Anderson, who splits her time between Los Angeles and Marin County. "One of the things I hope to achieve with "The Quality of Life" is to help the audience recognize that in the face of this dichotomy of ideals, there's the possibility of finding a common human connection."

A.C.T.'s production of "The Quality of Life "is made possible by executive producers Frannie and Mort Fleishhacker; producers Lloyd and Janet Cluff; associate producers Carol P. Dollinger, The Marmor Foundation, Drs. Michael and Jane Marmor, and Bruce and Adrienne Mitchell; company sponsors Roberta B. Bialek, Rena Bransten, Priscilla and Keith Geeslin, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Jeff and Laurie Ubben, and Susan Van Wagner; and media partner KDFC.


Tickets for "The Quality of Life "can be purchased by visiting A.C.T. Ticket Services, located at 405 Geary Street, by calling 415.749.2228, or via the A.C.T. website at Groups of 15 or more people are eligible for discounts; please call Edward Budworth at 415.439.2473.

Sponsored by Bank of the West, a Bring What You Can/Pay What You Wish performance will be held on Thursday, October 30, 2008, at 8 p.m. Patrons will be allowed to pay any amount for tickets when they bring a donation of children's books, diapers, or coffee beans to benefit Raphael House, a shelter and support program for homeless families in San Francisco's Tenderloin District. Patrons are limited to one ticket per donated item, one ticket per person. Tickets go on sale at 6 p.m. the day of the performance.


San Francisco, CA 94108
A.C.T. Ticket Services: 415.749.2228

"The Quality of Life"
Written and directed by Jane Anderson

A daring, star-studded cast explores hot-button issues of life and death in this riveting new tour-de-force, featuring Laurie Metcalf ("Desperate Housewives," "Roseanne"), Caroline Lagerfelt ("Gossip Girl," A.C.T.'s "Mary Stuart"), JoBeth Williams ("Poltergeist," "The Big Chill"), Steven Culp ("Desperate Housewives, "A.C.T.'s "Blackbird"), and two-time OBIE Award winner Dennis Boutsikaris. When a religious Midwestern couple, Bill and Dinah, visit free-spirited cousin Jeannette (alternately played by Metcalf and Lagerfelt) and her husband, Neil, in their Northern California home, both couples confront loss and survival in the face of explosive circumstance. An unforgettable, brave work of heart and humor, "The Quality of Life" was nominated for four 2007 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards.

Cast: Dennis Boutsikaris ("Neil"), Steven Culp ("Bill"), Caroline Lagerfelt ("Jeannette, alternate"), Laurie Metcalf ("Jeannette, alternate"), JoBeth Williams ("Dinah")

Creative Team: Kent Dorsey ("light designer"), Donald Eastmen ("set designer"), Lydia Tanji ("costume designer"), Richard Woodbury ("sound designer")

Previews: Friday, October 24, at 8 p.m.
Saturday, October 25, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday, October 26, at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, October 28, at 8 p.m.
Press Nights: Wednesday, October 29, at 8 p.m. (with Laurie Metcalf)
Wednesday, November 5, at 8 p.m. (with Caroline Lagerfelt)
Last Performance: Sunday, November 23, at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $14–$57 previews; $17–$71 Tue.–Fri. & Sun. evenings; $22–$82 Sat. evenings and weekend matinees. Tickets are available through A.C.T. Ticket Services, 405 Geary Street at Mason, 415.749.2228, and online at

Performance Times:
Tuesdays–Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Matinee performances on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2 p.m.
Tuesday, November 11, performance is at 7 p.m.
Additional 7 p.m. performance on Sunday, November 2

Alternate Performances:
Laurie Metcalf will perform October 24–25, October 27–November 1, November 7–9, November 14–16, and November 21–23.
Caroline Lagerfelt will perform October 26, November 2, November 4–6, November 11–13, and November 18–20.
(Plays, artists, and schedules subject to change.)

InterACT Events—Free of charge!

KORET PROLOGUE featuring Jane Anderson
Tuesday, October 28, 2008, at 4:30 p.m.
American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco)

Get inside the artistic process. Join us for this half-hour discussion with writer and director Jane Anderson introducing the production. FREE and open to the public (no tickets required). Doors open at 4 p.m.

Friday, November 7, 2008, at 8 p.m.
American Conservatory Theater (415 Geary Street, San Francisco)

Join members of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis for an exciting post-performance discussion that explores the psychological aspects of "The Quality of Life" and addresses audience questions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008, at 7 p.m.
Sunday, November 16, 2008, at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, November 19, at 2 p.m.

Join us for a lively Q&A session with the actors and A.C.T. artistic staff members after these performances.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at 8 p.m.

A dynamic series for LGBT theater lovers that includes a catered afterparty with complimentary wine and desserts and a cast meet and greet. Visit for more information about how to subscribe to OUT nights.


Jane Anderson is a multi-award-winning writer and director for theater, film, and television. Her plays have been produced off Broadway and in theaters around the country, including A.C.T., Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, McCarter Theatre Center, Long Wharf Theatre, the Geffen Playhouse, and Pasadena Playhouse. Her published plays include "Looking for Normal"," The Baby Dance"," Defying Gravity"," Smart Choices for the New Century," and "Lynette at 3am" and "The Last Time We Saw Her" (both recipients of the Heideman Award). Other works include "The Pink Studio" and "Hotel Oubliette" (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize). Her most recent play, "The Quality of Life," premiered at the Geffen Playhouse in 2007, directed by Anderson. She wrote and directed the DreamWorks production of "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio" (starring Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson). She also wrote and directed "Normal" for HBO, starring Jessica Lange and Tom Wilkinson, which garnered six Emmy Award nominations (including Outstanding Writing and Made-for-Television Movie), three Golden Globe Award nominations, and Directors Guild of America and Writers Guild of America award nominations for outstanding directing and writing. She wrote HBO's groundbreaking "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom," for which she received an Emmy, a Writers Guild Award, and a PEN Center USA Award for Best Teleplay. Her other television films include "When Billie Beat Bobby" (starring Holly Hunter and Ron Silver) and "The Baby Dance" (starring Laura Dern and Stockard Channing), which received a Peabody Award, three Golden Globe nominations, and four Emmy nominations (including Outstanding Directing, Writing, and Made-for-Television Movie). She wrote and directed the first segment of "If These Walls Could Talk 2" (starring Vanessa Redgrave), which earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing and Made-for-Television Movie. Other screenwriting credits include "How to Make an American Quilt" and "It Could Happen to You".

Steven Culp received "Drama-Logue" Awards for his performances in "Angels in America" (A.C.T.) and the West Coast premiere of "Raised in Captivity" (South Coast Repertory Theatre). Over the last two decades he has appeared in numerous theatrical premieres, among them Tony Kushner's "Slavs!" and Phyllis Nagy's "Trip's Cinch" (Actors Theatre of Louisville), Terrence McNally's "The Lisbon Traviata" (Theatre Off Park), Neil Simon's "Actors and Actresses" (Hartman Theatre), A. R. Gurney, Jr.'s "Sweet Sue" (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Keith Reddin's "Highest Standard of Living" (Playwrights Horizons), Jonathan Tolins's "If Memory Serves" (Pasadena Playhouse), and Lillian Groag's "The White Rose" (The Old Globe). Other theater credits include "Blackbird" (A.C.T.), "Art" (South Coast Rep), "Coastal Disturbances" (Circle in the Square, Broadway), "Light Up the Sky" (Ahmanson Theatre), "Richard III" (New York Shakespeare Festival), and many other plays at regional theaters across the country. Culp received Screen Actors' Guild Awards in 2004 and 2005 (Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series) as part of the cast of ABC's "Desperate Housewives". He also starred in the ABC series "Traveler". Since making his primetime TV debut in the Emmy Award–winning NBC miniseries of Gore Vidal's "Lincoln," Culp has appeared in many series and television movies, including notable recurring roles in "JAG," "The West Wing," "Star Trek: Enterprise," and "ER". Most recent television appearances include "The Closer," "Saving Grace," Eli Stone, "The Cleaner," "Medium," "Boston Legal," and the upcoming miniseries "Impact". Culp has appeared in the feature films" Thirteen Days" (Robert F. Kennedy), "The Emperor's Club" (with Kevin Kline), "Spartan" (written and directed by David Mamet), "The Sisters," "Nurse Betty," "James and the Giant Peach," and "Firehouse Dog," among others.

Dennis Boutsikaris originated the role of Neil in the Geffen Playhouse production of "The Quality of Life" in 2007, for which he received a "Back Stage West" Garland Award. His Broadway credits include "Amadeus" (Mozart), "Filumena" (dir. Sir Laurence Olivier), and "Bent". Off Broadway, he received an OBIE Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination for "Sight Unseen" at Manhattan Theatre Club. Other off-Broadway credits include "The" "Nest of the Wood Grouse" (OBIE for Outstanding Performance) at The Public Theater in New York, "The Boys Next Door," "A Picasso" (Picasso) at Manhattan Theatre Club, "That Championship Season" at Second Stage Theatre, and "Julius Caesar" (Cassius) at the New York Shakespeare Festival. Boutsikaris has appeared in many television movies, including "Chasing the Dragon" (CableACE Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor) and "And Then There Was One" (both for Lifetime), "Love and Betrayal": "The Mia Farrow Story" (Woody Allen), and "Survival on the Mountain". On television he has been a series regular on "Stat"," The Jackie Thomas Show",and Sidney Lumet's" 100 Centre Street" and has lost many cases on "Law & Order". His film work includes "*batteries not included," "The" "Dream Team"," Boys on the Side"," In Dreams"," Crocodile Dundee II," and, most recently, Oliver Stone's "W "(Paul Wolfowitz). He is the recipient of two Audies for his work narrating more than 60 audio books.

Caroline Lagerfelt returns to the Bay Area, where she spent five happy years as Inger Dominguez on television's "Nash Bridges" and played Queen Elizabeth in "Mary Stuart" at A.C.T. (dir. Carey Perloff). On Broadway, she starred in "Lend Me a Tenor" (dir. Jerry Zaks, Outer Critics Circle Award), "The Real Thing" (dir. Mike Nichols), "A Small Family Business" (dir. Lynne Meadow), "Four on a Garden" (dir. Abe Burrows), "Betrayal" (dir. Sir Peter Hall), "Otherwise Engaged" (dir. Harold Pinter), "The Constant Wife" (dir. Sir John Gielgud, with Ingrid Bergman, Drama Desk Award nom.), "The Jockey Club Stakes" (dir. Cyril Ritchard), and "The Philanthropist". Off Broadway, her credits include "Hamlet," "Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom"," Moonlight"," Clarence," "Phaedra Brittanica," "Creditors," "Quartermaine's Terms" (dir. Harold Pinter, OBIE Award), "Close of Play"," Other Places," "Look Back in Anger," "Cloud Nine," and "The Workroom". Regional credits include "Mary Stuart" (dir. Carey Perloff, The Huntington Theatre Company), "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (The Old Globe), "The Misanthrope" (dir. Garland Wright, Guthrie Theater), "The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui" and "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" (Williamstown Theatre Festival), "Night and Day" (Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Wales, with Ralph Fiennes), "Dog Days" (Vienna's English Theatre), "Lloyd George Knew My Father" (with Sir Ralph Richardson), and "To Grandmother's House We Go" (with Eva Le Galliene). Film credits include "Poseidon"," All the King's Men"," Minority Report"," Mrs. Harris"," Homecoming"," Glam"," Father of the Bride Part II"," Iron Eagle"," Bye Bye Love," and" No Way Out". Television credits include "Gossip Girl"," Frasier"," Six Feet Under"," Law & Order: Criminal Intent"," Law & Order"," ER"," Buffy the Vampire Slayer"," The X Files"," Chicago Hope"," NYPD Blue"," Picket Fences"," The Drew Carey Show," "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," and a recurring role on "Beverly Hills, 90210".

Laurie Metcalf is an original member of Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company, now in its 33rd season. Past Steppenwolf productions include "The Beauty Queen of Leenane," "Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune," "Coyote Ugly," "Educating Rita," "Libra," and "Balm in Gilead," for which she received New York's Drama Desk, OBIE, and Theatre World awards. At the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles, she received Ovation Awards for her performances in Jane Anderson's "Looking for Normal" and Arthur Miller's "All My Sons". She has appeared on Broadway in "My Thing of Love "and in David Mamet's "November, "for which she received a Tony Award nomination. She appeared on the television series "Roseanne, "for which she won three Emmy Awards, and "The Norm Show". Film credits include "Desperately Seeking Susan," "Internal Affairs," "Making Mr. Right," "Uncle Buck," "JFK," "Toy Story," "Bulworth," "Scream 2," and "Leaving Las Vegas".

JoBeth Williams is probably best known for her starring roles in the films "Poltergeist" (I and II), "The Big Chill," "Teachers," "Switch," "Fever Pitch," "Stir Crazy," and "Kramer vs. Kramer," among many others. She has been nominated for three Emmy Awards (for the television movies "Baby M" and "Adam" and for "Frasier") and has had the lead in two series, John Grisham's "The Client" and the CBS half-hour "Payne" (opposite John Larroquette). This season she was seen in a recurring role on "Dexter" for Showtime. Her theater work in New York includes "Body Awareness" (Atlantic Theater Company), Marsha Norman's "Last Dance," "Moonchildren," "Ladyhouse Blues," "A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking," John Guare's "Gardenia," and "The Vagina Monologues". In regional theater she has played the leads in "Antony and Cleopatra" (The Old Globe), "Idiot's Delight" (opposite Stacy Keach, The Kennedy Center), "The Threepenny Opera" (Williamstown Theatre Festival), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (McCarter Theatre Center), "Uncle Vanya," "Tartuffe," and "The School for Wives," among others. She has also performed at Arena Stage and spent two seasons at Trinity Repertory Company. She most recently appeared onstage at the Geffen Playhouse in Jane Anderson's "The Quality of Life," for which she received a "Back Stage West" Garland Award. She has been nominated for two Golden Globes and an Academy Award for directing the short film "On Hope". Other directing credits include the Showtime film "Frankie and Hazel" (with Joan Plowright and Mischa Barton) and episodic television. She is a graduate of Brown University.

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