Rape and retribution are not easy subjects, but in the taut and ultimately mysterious Death and the Maiden we get a paranoid thriller with shadows of Harold Pinter flickering across the script. We think this mind-bender is a great supplement to our more usual summer diet of easy laughs and pretty tunes, fun though they may be.
Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden will play from June 14th to July 1st at the New Stage Performing Arts Center in Pittsfield, above the Beacon Cinemas on North Street.
About the Play
A taught psychological thriller that deals with the scars left as a country transitions from tyranny to democracy, Death and the Maiden tells the story of Paulina, a woman who was tortured and raped while blindfolded by the old fascist regime.
When her husband brings home a new friend, she knows instantly from hearing the man’s voice that he’s the sadistic doctor who abused her in the military detention center all those years ago, and she goes to drastic measures to prove it.
Nicki Wilson, the Artistic Director of New Stage, recalls seeing it on Broadway back in 1992 and being deeply moved. “It was the talk of New York when this play debuted on Broadway. It starred Glen Close, Richard Dreyfuss and Gene Hackman. The play and the actors were mesmerising. We’re hoping to bring that same tension to our production.” The play went on to be made into a movie by Roman Polanski two years later.
The Shubert Connection
A central motif of the play is Schubert’s string quartet in D minor, which is known as the “Death and the Maiden” Quartet. The quartet is based on the lied “Death and the Maiden”, which was also composed by Schubert. A recording of this quartet was played during Paulina’s ordeal.
Well-known local director Normi Noel will direct a cast featuring Deann Halper as Paulina, Gary Cookson as Gerardo, and Marc Geller as Roberto. Aaron P. Mastin is the set designer and Ben Elliott is the lighting designer and production manager. Brittanie Sicker is the stage manager and Robert Allen is the production coordinator.
Death and the Maiden continues New Stage’s dedication to bringing socially minded plays to the Berkshires, as it did during it’s 2011 Fall/Spring season with the premieres of Edward Bernstein’s The Trial of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Yasmine Beverly Rana’s Blood Sky.
About Ariel Dorfman, Playwright
Vladimiro Ariel Dorfman (born May 6, 1942) is an Argentine-Chilean novelist, playwright, essayist, academic, and human rights activist. From 1970 to 1973, Dorfman served as a cultural advisor to president Salvador Allende. That ended badly for his regime. A citizen of the United States since 2004, he has been a professor of literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina since 1985. Since the 1990 restoration of democracy in Chile, he and his wife Angélica have divided their time between Santiago and the United States.
Dates and Tickets
Death and the Maiden plays Thursdays through Sundays, with shows at 8 pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and matinees at 3pm on Sundays. All tickets are $20. Call 413 418 0999 for reservations, or visit newstageperformingarts.org to purchase tickets online.