Most people know Ethan Coen as half of the award-winning Coen Brothers who have written, directed, and produced films like Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and No Country For Old Men. Now Tampa Bay audiences will be treated to Ethan Coen’s first foray as a playwright, Almost an Evening, which played an extended sold-out engagement Off-Broadway in 2008-2009.
The overall theme of these three satiric shorts by Oscar-winning screenwriter Ethan Coen, who is responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed pieces of popular culture of our time, is hell – both on earth and in the hereafter.
In “Waiting,” a man faces an uncertain future in an uncertain location that seems to be some kind of waiting room. The anxiety and despair hark back to dramas of the fifties – Sartre, Beckett, Pinter. “Four Benches” depicts an unlikely meeting in a steam room between a straight-talking Texan and an uptight Brit. Both men learn from the encounter, though only one survives it. In “Debate,” the cantankerous god of the Old Testament roundly abuses the mealy-mouthed god of the New. His profanity and ill humor receive a startling comeuppance, and further reversals and changes of point of view lead to a denouement that is no more preposterous than anything else in the play.
Clever, provocative, and as engaging as the best fiction, these short plays showcase yet another talent of one of our most celebrated contemporary writers.
About The Playwright
After studying philosophy at Princeton University, Ethan Coen and his brother, Joel, began writing their first screenplays. The brothers made their screen debut in 1984 with the Texas-based noir Blood Simple, the first of what would be many films dedicated to a filmmaking style that is notably eccentric, ironic, darkly comic, and often violent. The film earned critical acclaim, establishing the brothers as fresh, original talent. In 1987, the duo released the comedy Raising Arizona, a lighthearted departure and serious box office hit. In the early 1990s, the Coens went on to make numerous films, including Miller’s Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991) and Hudsucker Proxy (1994). Though the latter was a relative disappointment, it was followed by the brothers’ most ambitious and successful film to date, the extremely dark comedy Fargo (1996). The Coens shared a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for their work. In 1998, they put out The Big Lebowski, which won a Golden Bear nomination for Joel at the Berlin Film Festival. They released O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000, which was loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey and starred George Clooney and John Turturro. In summer 2003, the brothers teamed with Tom Hanks and Marlon Wayans for the remake of the 1955 British bandit comedy Ladykillers. For their next effort, Ethan and Joel Coen contributed a segment called Tuileries for the 2006 film Paris, je t’aime, which explored the City of Light through individual stories set in different neighborhoods. In a completely different vein, the Coen brothers put a modern spin on the traditional western with No Country for Old Men (2007). The film has brought the pair a lot of critical acclaim and several award nominations. In February 2008, those nominations became three Academy Awards for the Coen brothers. They took home the awards for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Ethan’s stage plays include Almost an Evening, Debate, Waiting, and many others.
- Matthew Ray – Director
- Tiffany Daiber – Stage Manager
- Jordan Foote – Sabatacheck, Earl, Angel 2, Understudy
- Matthew Frankel – Polhemus, Texan, Angel 1, Waiter
- Landon Green – McMartin, Young Man
- Jonelle Meyer – Receptionist, Control, God Who Loves
- Spencer Meyers – One, Maître D’
- Owen Robertson – Boodrum, God Who Judges
- Melissa Ruchong – Nelson, Woman
- Molly Schoolmeester – Child, Young Woman
- Ryan E. Finzelber – Lighting Designer
- Brian Smallheer – Scenic Designer
- Beth Tepe-Robertson – Costume Designer
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