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Quality of Life, with Metcalf, Williams, Culp, Boutsikaris,
Plays A.C.T. Oct. 24-Nov. 23

(c) Playbill

October 24, 2008

By Kenneth Jones

Jane Anderson's "The Quality of Life," a play about wellness, family, faith and mortality, begins performances at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco Oct. 24, with Laurie Metcalf, Dennis Boutsikaris, JoBeth Williams and Steven Culp.

Directed by the author and produced in association with the Geffen Playhouse and Jonathan Reinis Productions, "The Quality of Life" will continue to Nov. 23. Opening night is Oct. 29.

Metcalf (Broadway's "November," TV's "Roseanne"), Williams ("Poltergeist," "The Big Chill") and two-time OBIE Award winner Boutsikaris originated their roles in the earlier Geffen Playhouse production. Culp most recently appeared on the A.C.T. stage in the acclaimed production of "Blackbird."

According to A.C.T., "A daring, star-studded cast explores hot-button issues of life and death in this riveting new tour-de-force. When a religious Midwestern couple, Bill [Culp] and Dinah [Williams], visits free-spirited cousin Jeannette [Metcalf] and her husband, Neil [Boutsikaris], 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."

The creative team includes Kent Dorsey (lighting designer), Donald Eastmen (set designer), Lydia Tanji (costume designer) and Richard Woodbury (sound designer).

Producer Reinis is hoping to take the play to a wider commercial future.

Anderson 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," according to production notes, "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."

Anderson's plays have been produced Off-Broadway and in theatres 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, Lynette at 3am" and "The Last Time We Saw Her". Other works include "The Pink Studio" and "Hotel Oubliette" (Susan Smith Blackburn Prize). Anderson wrote and directed the film "The Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio." She wrote and directed "Normal" for HBO, which garnered six Emmy Award nominations, 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 "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.

Other screenwriting credits include "How to Make an American Quilt" and "It Could Happen to You."

Tickets — starting at $14 — are available by calling A.C.T. Ticket Services at (415) 749-2228, or at

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