A SAFE HARBOR FOR ELIZABETH BISHOP
A New York Premiere
By Marta Góes
Directed by Richard Jay-Alexander
with Amy Irving
How did a profound passion for art and beauty create a Pulitzer Prize winning writer? Behold the Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated actress Amy Irving as she explores the creative evolution of the legendary poetess Elizabeth Bishop. Ms. Góes’ commanding script transports us from the harbors of Rio, Seattle, New York, and Boston, while it details a sweeping landscape of the truths behind commitment. Overflowing with love, loss, politics, and sexual intrigue, A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop invites us on a journey of redemption and self-acceptance through the power of poetry.
MARTA GÓES, playwright was born in Houghton, Michigan, in 1953 when her parents were studying there. She went to Brazil when she was 1 year old and grew up in Petrópolis, in the mountain region off Rio, just beside the place Elizabeth Bishop lived her best years in Brazil. Even though she was a girl at the time Elizabeth was writing the poems of Questions of Travel, In The Village and other landmarks of her work, she used to hear the adult’s whispered comments about Lota Macedo Soares and her American Friend Elizabeth. But the pleasure of reading her poetry came much later, in the 90s, when she worked as a journalist in São Paulo and the publishing house Companhia das Letras launched an inspired translation by Paulo Henriques Brito. When the Brazilian actress Regina Braga asked her to write a play, she had already understood Elizabeth’s life combined the beauty of her work with wonderful theatrical subjects, such as frailty and strenght , risk and survival. Marta worked in some of Brazilian major publications, where she was a reporter and editor, most of the time in culture sections. She wrote her first piece of fiction when she was 28. It was an episode for a TV series, very popular at the time, called Malu Mulher (Malu, a woman), about a young divorcee reconstructing her life. Her first theatre play (Prepare your feet for summer) opened e 1986. It was a comedy about the clichés of women’s magazines. Later, as a managing editor in the Brazilian best-selling woman Magazine, she would experience the reality of her subject — and would miss the fiction side. She wrote other plays, Like the comedy The Girl Who Said That, about human relations under the hyerarchies of the work world, before writing A Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop. She has two more plays: Just One ore Moment (2003), and Tourists and Refugees (2204), adapted from the Open Theathre’s group play. Marta translated the plays The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams, and Donald Margulies’ Dinner with Friends — and of the book Terrorism in the Name of God, by Jessica Stern. Marta lives in São Paulo, with her husband. They have three children.
RICHARD JAY-ALEXANDER, director began his theatrical career in 1977 in the original cast of the Broadway play, ZOOT SUIT, appearing thereafter in the original Broadway cast of AMADEUS, which led to his being engaged as Associate Director of the National Touring Companies of that Tony Award-winning Play. He also staged AMADEUS in Santiago, Chile, in Spanish, in which he is fluent. However, he is probably best known for his association with Producer Cameron Mackintosh, having served as Executive Director of Mr. Mackintosh’s American company for ten years, running its day-to-day operations in North America. Richard first came to Mr. Mackintosh’s attention as stage manager/dance captain of his Broadway revival of OLIVER! and stage manager/assistant director of his Broadway production of SONG & DANCE. Shortly thereafter, he became both Associate Director and Executive Producer of the original Broadway, touring and Canadian companies of LES MISERABLES, staging more than a dozen productions of that Musical. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA followed, and then MISS SAIGON, for which Richard was Executive Producer for the original Broadway, touring and Canadian companies. He also served as Executive Producer and Associate Director for Broadway’s FIVE GUYS NAMED MOE and was Executive Producer of its Grammy-nominated original cast recording. Richard subsequently produced recordings for Bernadette Peters (LIVE FROM CARNEGIE HALL, RODGERS & HAMMERSTEIN, both Grammy-nominated), Johnny Mathis (ON BROADWAY) and Mary Cleere Haran (PENNIES FROM HEAVEN, THE MEMORY OF ALL THAT) and co-wrote the liner notes for Barbra Streisand’s recent THE MOVIE ALBUM and lyrics for several Walt Disney Records projects, including LILO AND STITCH Island Favorites. For film, Richard created the musical staging for Sony Classics’ BOSSA NOVA, after having appeared in SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER, ALL THAT JAZZ, and a slew of commercials and soap operas. Most recently, Richard directed concert productions for some of the world’s greatest entertainers, including Bette Midler (KISS MY BRASS Tour), Barbra Streisand (TIMELESS FAREWELL Tour), Ricky Martin, Jane Monheit, Polly Bergen, Sam Harris, Hayley Westenra, Russell Watson (THE VOICE) and Bernadette Peters, the latter two having also been telecast on PBS. He also helmed the multi-media extravaganza, STORM, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, the workshop productions of the Broadway-bound musical based on GREAT EXPECTATIONS (starring Cloris Leachman) and A SAFE HARBOR FOR ELIZABETH BISHOP (starring Amy Irving), as well as the latest commercials for 2(x)ist Underwear and Alizé Cognac. A native of Syracuse, NY, Richard holds a B.A. in Theatre and Music from SUNY at Oswego and is the recipient of that University’s first Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. He is also a proud Board member of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in New York and has been an active supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Florida. Richard currently shares his residences in New York, Los Angeles and Miami with his perfect dog, JoJo, who isn’t the least bit impressed with any of it.
Amy Irving Plays Pulitzer Poet in A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop Off Broadway
By Ernio Hernandez
June 24, 2005
Amy Irving will star in Marta Góes’ solo play A Safe Harbor for Elizabeth Bishop that has been added to close the 2005-2006 Primary Stages season in March 2006. Richard Jay-Alexander (Kiss My Brass) will direct the work for the Off-Broadway troupe for a limited run March 21-April 30, 2006 at 59E59 Theaters. The work will be produced in association with Waxman/Williams Entertainment and Mahega Productions.
Based on the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop,A Safe Harbor set itself on the shores of Rio, Seattle, New York, and Boston, as it retells the stories of “love, loss, politics, and sexual intrigue” as production notes state.
Irving has appeared on Broadway in Amadeus, Heartbreak House, Broken Glass and Three Sisters. The actress is perhaps best known for her Academy Award-nominated turn in “Yentl,” and other screen roles in “Crossing Delancey,” “A Show of Force,” “I’m Not Rappaport,” “Deconstructing Harry” and “Traffic.”
The Michigan-born playwright Góes grew up in Petrópolis, near where Elizabeth Bishop lived in Brazil. She came to know Bishop through her poetry came while she worked as a journalist in São Paulo. She has written for a television series called “Malu Mulher” (Malu, a woman) and other plays, The Girl Who Said That, Just One More Moment and Tourists and Refugees.
Director Jay-Alexander appeared as an actor in the original casts of Broadway’s Zoot Suit and Amadeus. He has served as associate director and executive producer on a number of productions including Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, Miss Saigon and Five Guys Named Moe.
Primary Stages’ upcoming season will launch with the New York premiere of Terrence McNally’s Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams, (July 26-Sept. 18). Michael Morris directs the work starring Marian Seldes. The season then continue with the east coast premiere of Charles Grodin’s The Right Kind of People (Jan. 24-March 5, 2006) directed by Chris Smith — artistic director of San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, where the work debuted Nov. 2004.
Tickets and subscriptions to Primary Stages’ shows at the 59E59 Theaters, at 59 East 59th Street, can be purchased by calling (212-279-4200) or at the box office. For more information, visit: www.primarystages.com