Tracy Letts,August: Osage County play and film winner of Pulitzer prize 08 and tony award

Posted: July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I have started reading the script of  August: Osage County. Its shaping up to be a good play

Original Broadway windowcard

Synopsis:ugust: Osage County is the Pulitzer Prize winning drama by Tracy Letts directed by Anna Shapiro which premiered in 2007 to a crowd of many theatre lovers. Many who have enjoyed the play when it first came out have seen it on more than one occasion after it started a tour around America.

Tracy Letts’ play belongs to the black comedy genre, giving it quite a darkly dimension. The action revolves around the Weston family who is forced to confront their reality both from their past and their present. The plot of August: Osage County is very enjoyable and has made many people applaud the writing and directing efforts every single time the play was presented.

The August: Osage County plot begins in August as the action takes place over several weeks in the home of Beverly and Violet Weston in Oklahoma. Beverly is a poet and has a drinking problem while his wife suffers from mouth cancer and has become addicted to drugs. The story begins when Beverly is trying to hire a new live-in cook and caregiver for Violet.

Problems between the couple are part of the plot from the first scene when Johnna is hired. A few weeks later Beverly disappears which motivates the family to come together to look for him but only to find a few days later that he has committed suicide. Barbara and Karen, the other two daughters of Violet and Beverly, along with Ivy who lives in the house come to their father’s funeral, as does the entire family.

A series of conflicts ensue over the next several days as Violet and Barbara have never understood each other. Karen’s fiancé proves to be a pot smoker and tries to molest his soon to be niece, Ivy is planning to run away with her cousin after engaging in a romantic relationship, but he proves to be her half-brother and, at the end Violet remains alone, only with Johnna.

The August: Osage County characters are the most important part of the play, as both the writer and the director have built incredible and vibrant people that can be very relatable. The characters portrayed by the actors have done great justice to the play and made it into a Pulitzer Prize winner.

The main characters of August: Osage County are Beverly and Violet Weston. They are married and live in a three-story home in Oklahoma. They have three daughters by the name of Barbara, Karen and Ivy in the order of their age. Beverly is a well-known poet but has a drinking problem, probably due to Violet being a drug addict. Violet herself has a health problem an struggles with mouth cancer and needs drugs to treat her and alleviate her pain. She is also upset with her oldest daughter leaving her home, making her subject to the drugs.

Beverly and Violet are having marital problems and are constantly fighting over many issues, which is what leads Beverly into committing suicide at the beginning of the play. When this occurs the entire family is pulled together to attend the funeral and chaos ensues along with confrontation between family members.

Violet and Barbara have never gotten along and are constantly fighting. Barbara herself is in an unhappy marriage as her husband is cheating on her with a younger woman and her 14 year old daughter smokes pot. Karen has a fiancé who joins her niece in smoking pot and engages in shameless flirting with his soon to be niece.

Ivy also has a problem with her mother as Violet always picks on her for not having a romantic life, However Ivy has been engaging secretly in a romantic relationship with her cousin Little Charlie, who turns out to be her half-brother. Other characters of August: Osage County are Charlie and Mattie Fae – Violet’s sister – their son Little Charlie and the newly hired live in cook Johnna.

Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble members Rondi Reed (left) and Amy Morton in the original Chicago cast of August: Osage County.

Tony Awards 2008

Awards
‘August Osage County’ was a play produced by Steppenwolf Theatre Company and directed by one of its members and long time collaborators, Anna D. Shapiro. It gained an immensely positive critical acclaim, so it was commissioned to be played on Broadway. It also was able to hit international famous scenes in countries like Argentina, England, Germany, Israel, Sweden and Peru. Because of its big success, the play also was nominated and won many awards, starting with the award for Best Director and ending with a Pulitzer. The drama will also be turned into a film.

‘August Osage County’ received its first award in the year of 2007. The Jeff Award (Chicago) was awarded to August Osage County for Best New Work and Best Production. These two awards were closely followed in 2008 by other six awards: Best New Play awarded by Drama Desk, Distinguished Production of a Play by Drama League, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Broadway Play. 2008 was also the year August Osage County received the biggest award in the industry, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, shortly followed by a Tony Award for Best Play. The success of the drama didn’t end here. Times Magazine named August Osage County its Number 1 Theater Production in 2007. In 2009, the popular magazine Entertainment Weekly put the play on its famous end-of-the-decade, best of list. The critics at the magazine said that despite the fact that it is three and a half hours long, the director and the actors managed to create a moment of pure theatrical electricity.

The biggest success of August Osage County was the fact that it won a Pulitzer for Best Play. The Pulitzer if one of the most prestigious prizes in the world, being granted every year for outstanding creations in journalism, literature, drama.

 

August County is about the Weston family and how they are an unhappy family with a knack for making each other miserable. When the head male figure in the household disappears the members of the Weston family go about getting together to find him while attacking one another in the process. This story was the winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and since this event it has been very well received by many audiences and critics through countless reviews coming from all over the US. Set in the plains of Oklahoma the play August Osage County by Tracy Letts gets much praise by many people for its grittiness and darkness. Many famous people have gone to see this play on Broadway New York and in other areas as well and have also reviewed it favorably including one Oprah Winfrey who hailed it as “outstanding” on twitter but the dark comic drama August: Osage County is a play that is loved by many more and hailed as one of the best plays that Broadway has ever hosted. Below is a list of reviews from famous publications and people for the play.

The New York Times Hails:

“Alcoholism, drug addiction, adultery, sexual misbehavior: The list of pathologies afflicting one or another of the Weston family is seemingly endless, and in some ways wearily familiar. But Mr. Letts’s antic recombination of soapy staples is so pop-artfully orchestrated that you never see the next curveball coming, and the play is so quotably funny I’d have a hard time winnowing favorite lines to a dozen. “

The Seattle Times Says: “On Todd Rosenthal’s magnificent, three-story dollhouse of a set (nod to Ibsen), director Anna D. Shapiro and a splendid acting ensemble make shameless voyeurs of us all.”

While the LA times boasts: “August” is a feast for actors and audiences alike. The ensemble doesn’t disappoint”

Its now being adapted into a film with:

Meryl Streep as Violet Weston
Julia Roberts as Barbara Weston
Margo Martindale as Mattie Fae Aiken
Sam Shepard as Beverly Weston
Chris Cooper as Charles Aiken
Benedict Cumberbatch as “Little” Charles Aiken
Ewan McGregor as Bill Fordham
Juliette Lewis as Karen Weston
Abigail Breslin as Jean Fordham
Dermot Mulroney as Steve Heidebrecht
Julianne Nicholson as Ivy Weston
Misty Upham as Johnna Monevata
Newell Alexander as Dr. Burke

Dr. Burke is a character written specifically for the film I think 🙂

 

 

Tracy Letts

playwright and actor, Tracy Letts received the 2008 Tony Award for Best Play for August: Osage County. This is his first nomination for performance.

1 NOMINATION

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play
WINNER

Tracy Letts

TRACY LETTS (Playwright) has been a Steppenwolf ensemble since 2002. He was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County, which played on Broadway for over a year, following a sold-out run at Steppenwolf in 2007. August also enjoyed a sold-out engagement at London’s National Theatre and a U.S. National Tour in summer 2009. Other accolades include five Tony Awards (including Best Play), an Olivier Award and six Jeff Awards (including Best Play). Mr. Letts is also the author of Superior Donuts, which had its world premiere at Steppenwolf in 2008 and opened on Broadway in 2009; Man from Nebraska, which was produced at Steppenwolf in 2003 and was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize; Killer Joe, which has been produced in Chicago, London and New York; and Bug, which has played in New York, Chicago and London. He has appeared at Steppenwolf in Betrayal, The Pillowman, Last of the Boys, The Pain and the Itch, The Dresser, Homebody/Kabul, The Dazzle, Glengarry Glen Ross (also in Dublin and Toronto), Three Days of Rain, Road to Nirvana, Picasso at the Lapin Agile and the Steppenwolf for Young Adults production of The Glass Menagerie. Other Chicago stage credits include The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial (A Red Orchid Theatre), Conquest of the South Pole (Famous Door), Bouncers (the Next Lab) and his directorial debut at the Lookingglass Theatre with Great Men of Science Nos. 21 and 22. He also appeared in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre, directed by ensemble member Amy Morton. Television credits include: The District, Profiler, Prison Break, The Drew Carey Show, Seinfeld and Home Improvement. Film appearances include Guinevere, U.S. Marshals and Chicago Cab.

Steppenwolf Theatre Company
The Steppenwolf Theatre Company is, as the name implies, a theatre company that is based in Chicago. It has been founded in the year 1974 by Terry Kinney, Gary Sinise and Jeff Perry and has moved its location from the basement of a church in Highland Park into its own building over the years, symbolizing great success. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company is now located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood on Halsted Street, Chicago.

In its long time running the theatre company has also won a Tony Award. Members of the company have always been responsible for running it which counts very much in the sense of total dedication, guaranteeing its success over the years. The artistic director of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company has been Martha Lavey for more than fifteen years. David Hawkanson has been the executive director of the company since 2003.

The theater company did not make the transition easily between its original location and that it has now. If first moved into a 134-seat theater and afterwards, two years later into a bigger 211-seat one. The Halsted Street address that the company is now on has been its home since 1991 and has represented one of the most important reasons why Chicago is a leader in the performing arts.

Of the first performances at the Steppenwolf were Grease, Rosencrantz and the Guildenstern are Dead and The Glass Menagerie. Many great names have formed a part of this theatre over the years and many have went on to even greater careers and achievements after passing through the Steppenwolf. John Malkovich and Steve Martin were two of the actors of this theatre that went on to make motion pictures that are memorable to thousands of people around the world. Tracy Letts, another active member of the Steppenwolf has won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his play August: Osage County.

Playright Tracy Letts, responsible for writing the Pulitzer Prize winning drama August: Osage County was born on July 4th 1965 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has been active since 1988 and apart from writing has also graced audiences by acting on stage and in feature films.

Tracy Letts is the son of Dennis Letts and Billie Letts. He has taken his love of writing and the theatre from both his parents as his father was an actor and a college professor, while his mother was a best-selling author. Tracy’s family has always been interested in the arts, as Tracy’s brother Shawn is a composer and a jazz musician.

Letts moved from his home-state of Oklahoma to Dallas to pursue an acting career. His first roles began there and he moved to Chicago at the age of 20 where he began working with Steppenwolf and the Famous Door. He is still a part of the Steppenwolf company to this day. Tracy has made an effort to make his achievements even greater and started the Bang Bang Spontaneous Theatre – which many important names were a part of.

The writer Tracy Letts began his career in 1991 with the Killer Joe play which he managed to put on stage two years later in Chicago at the Next Lab Theatre. Many years have passed since the premiere of Killer Joe and Letts’s play made its way into 15 countries and has been translated into 12 languages.

The most famous play of the writer is August: Osage County, which was first presented in Chicago in 2007 and then moved to New York. The play has been on Broadway for 2 consecutive years, from 2007 to 2009 and has gained great fame and, of course, a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Tracy Letts draws his inspiration from the plays of Tennessee Williams as well as writers Jim Thompson and William Faulkner.

Anna D. Shapiro, Director
Anna D. Shapiro in an American director and was born in 1967. She specialized in theater directing and received an undergraduate degree from Columbia College in Chicago. She also went to Yale School of Drama. In 1996 she received a Princess Grace Award for her professional achievements. All her colleagues from Yale named her ‘the waitress who will one day run American theater’ because she was bold, inventive, creative and the smartest person in the Yale program. She perceived the theatrical scene in Chicago as being full with psychological realism. Anna D. Shapiro was born in Evanston, Illinois.

In 2002, Anna D. Shapiro started a career as head of the Graduate Directing Program in Theater at the Northwestern University. Her longest professional partnership and most successful was with Steppenwolf Theatre. Today, Anna D. Shapiro is an artistic associate at Steppenwolf Theater.

Her theatrical portfolio as a director includes plays like ‘Until We Find Each Other’, ‘The Pain and the Itch’, ‘Three Days of Rain’, ‘The Ordinary Yearning of Miriam Buddwing’, and ‘The Infidel’. Other names include ‘Iron’ at Manhattan Theater Club and ‘A Fair Country’ at Huntington Theater Company, proving that she collaborated with other theater companies as well. This helped her a lot to expand her artistic horizon, paving the way for her biggest success. Anna D. Shapiro’s portfolio as a director includes 10 plays and one big Broadway success.

Her biggest success was directing ‘August: Osage Country’ by Tracy Letts. For this play she won the Jefferson Award for Best Director. Being such a success, the play was commissioned by Broadway. The Broadway cast was the same as the initial cast, with only two actors being replaced. After being played in Broadway, ‘August: Osage Country’ was named by famous and reputable Time Magazine as the Number 1 Theatrical Production of 2007.

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