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Acting Work - Theatre

Christopher Durang and Ruth Nerken in A Royal Pardon

A Royal Pardon (1972)

(left) – Durang is the Prince of England, and Ruth Nerken is the Princess of France in this children’s show done by the Yale School of Drama.  

Playwright Albert Innaurato played both the King of England and the King of France, and tended to make up many of his lines.  Durang’s Prince was written to have narcolepsy, so dropping into a deep sleep at a moment’s notice was a good way to respond to Innaurato’s funny ad libs.  

Also in the cast was Meryl Streep, playing the somewhat goody-goody ingenue; at one point she did a prolonged John Wayne imitation, which seemed a good way to zing up the production.

Other acting work at Yale included:

Yale Cabaret  (1971-74)

Uhrlicht  by Albert Innaurato, directed by Innaurato.

(Durang as Gustaf, Sharon Phillips as the nun)

Better Dead Than Sorry  (or: Darryl and Carol and Kenny and Jenny)

Book and lyrics by Durang, music by Jack Feldman, directed by Steve Zuckerman.
(Durang as Darryl, Linda DeAngelis as Carol, Alan Migicovsky as Kenny, Sigourney Weaver as Jenny.  With Diana Belshaw, Joe Costa.)

I Don’t Generally Like Poetry But Have You Read “Trees”? 

co-authored by Durang and Albert Innaurato.  
Performed by Durang, Innaurato, Barbara Hauptman.
(Later performed at Manhattan Theatre Club in NYC, 1973)

Gyp: The Life Story of Mitzi Gaynor

co-authored by Durang and Albert Innaurato.  
Performed by Durang, Innaurato, Barbara Hauptman.


When Dinah Shore Ruled the Earth 

co-authored by Wendy Wasserstein and Durang.  
(Durang as emcee, with Christine Estabrook, Joyce Fideor, Denise Gordon and Martha Gaylord as the contestants.)

Yale Drama School Productions

Trudi and The Minstrel (children’s show), directed by Michael Feingold.

(Sigourney Weaver as evil Baroness, Durang as her troll.  Diane Belshaw as Trudi, David Stiffel as Minstrel)


Happy Birthday, Montpelier Pizz-zazz  by Wendy Wasserstein

(Lizbeth Mackay, Stephanie Faracy, Durang)

Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, directed by Tom Haas

(Cast: Diana Belshaw, Sigourney Weaver, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Anna Lawrence, John Rothman, Joe Costa, Christopher J. Brown, Durang)

Yale Repertory Theatre

The Frogs,  music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by Burt Shevelove, Directed by Shevelove.  At Yale Swimming Pool, 1974

(Cast: Larry Blyden, Charles Levin, Anthony Holland, Jeremy Geidt, Carmen DeLavallade.  Chorus: Durang, Sigourney Weaver, Meryl Streep, Alma Cuervo, Kate McGregor-Stewart, Stephen Rowe, Roberto Picardo, Ron Recasner, many others)


Read More on The Frogs

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The Possessed (1974)

(left) – As a revolutionary Student, Durang glowers at Ralph Drischell in Andrej Wajda’s adaptation of the novel The Possessed  by Fyodor Dostoevsky, based on a stage version by Albert Camus. Yale Repertory Theatre, fall 1974.

Pictured (l to r) are Drischell, Charles Levin (looking down), Michael Lassell (handkerchief), Durang, Barry Marshall, Steven Nowicki as Shatov, Franchelle Stewart Dorn (doing knitting) and Alvin Epstein as Kirilov. 

Hired to be in his co-authored play, the Dostoevesky send-up The Idiots Karamazov, Durang was also cast in this serious Dostoevesky adaptation, directed by the famous Polish film/stage director Andrej Wajda.  


Durang’s most notable line as the Student was “I think God should be shot!”  Wajda understood English but didn’t speak it, and in the first week told Durang through an interpreter to just “keep talking throughout the scene.”  “Even when I don’t have lines?” Durang asked, confused.  The director nodded.  So Durang ad-libbed many surly retorts in rehearsal which then got kept for performance.  Quite a “green light” to get from the director.

The leading roles in The Possessed, by the way, were played by Christopher Lloyd (a distinguished leading man before his Taxi  days), Meryl Streep (still a student, and playing a beautiful aristocrat), Jerome Dempsey, Norma Brustein, the aforementioned Alvin Epstein, and the Polish film actress Elzbieta Czyzewska, who gave an especially remarkable performance.

The Idiots Karamazov – Yale Repertory Theatre, fall 1974.

(Co-authored by Durang and Innaurato, with Meryl Streep, Durang, Linda Atkinson et al)

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