John Guare to act in his new off-Broadway play

Topics: From the Wires,

NEW YORK (AP) — John Guare isn’t merely ready to unveil his new play — he’ll also be onstage in it.

The Tony Award-winning playwright said he will make his first foray into professional acting when he appears in the world premiere of his “Three Kinds of Exile” this summer at the Atlantic Theatre Company.

“It’s my acting debut. I’m the New Face of 2013,” the 75-year-old joked by phone from Florida, where he was working on another new play.

“Three Kinds of Exile” follows the true story of three Eastern European artists who went into exile during the Soviet era. One went to England, another to North America and a third to South America. Guare will be playing himself: “I have no idea if they’ll fire me,” he said.

Guare was a close friend of one of the exiles and “in telling her story, I had to write myself as a character.” During three early readings, Guare played himself and began to feel very possessive of the part.

“So I just decided, for once, I should be in a play,” said the playwright, whose last acting was in summer stock 53 years ago. “I said, ‘Jeez. Why not for once in my life just try it?’”

Asked if the part he had written was large, Guare turned into a tongue-in-cheek diva: “I don’t do cameos!” he yelled. “I don’t do any walk-ons, you got it?”

Neil Pepe, the artistic director of the Atlantic Theater Company, will direct the new play at the company’s main stage from May 15-June 23. The rest of the casting has not been announced. “They’re just there to serve me,” the playwright purred. “They’re there to feed me lines.”

Guare, who won a Tony for his work on a 1972 musical version of Shakespeare’s “Two Gentleman of Verona,” is the playwright of the acclaimed “Six Degrees of Separation” and “House of Blue Leaves.” He also wrote the book for the musical adaptation of “Sweet Smell of Success” and the film “Atlantic City.”

Guare said his last play, “A Free Man of Color,” an ambitious, rollicking work set in New Orleans on the eve of the Louisiana Purchase, “was such a challenge to me, it made me use muscles I had never used before.” He said that in the past two years since it closed on Broadway, he has written four new plays.

He said he doesn’t want to dwell on what this new stab at acting means. “My humiliation might be so enormous that I have to leave New York City,” he said. Then he brightened: “Now that I’m an actor, I’m preparing my fitness video. It’s for the aging newcomer.”




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