Acting Work - Theatre
(left) In rehearsal Durang sword-fights with Dianne Wiest in Amlin Gray's play Pirates at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference, summer 1976. Durang was there primarily as a playwright, with his A History of the American Film. But he also got hired to play a small part in this play, and also to play a shy suitor of his Yale actress friend Christine Estabrook in a television workshop.
The sword fights were all ad-libbed, and Wiest was worried about being hurt. Durang was too, so they both made a quiet pact to fight together, but just not too hard. It was a nice way to make friends. Later that summer, Wiest was fantastic in Durang’s American Film play, and he was delighted when she played the lead in his Beyond Therapy on Broadway in 1982.
Das Lusitania Songspiel (1980)
(left) Durang and Sigourney Weaver co-wrote and performed in their crackpot Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill cabaret as an 11 p.m. show off-Broadway in winter 1979-1980 at the Westside Arts Theatre in Manhattan. Poster designed by Todd Ruff.
(right) Durang and Weaver enter in a little wagon, in a parody of Brecht and Weill’s didactic anti-capitalist opera The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, which happened to be playing at the Metropolitan Opera at the time of the show.
(left) Sigourney recreates the legendary “silent scream” performed by German actress Helene Weigel in the legendary original production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage. With great humility, Sigourney said, “And now, although I am not as homely as Miss Weigel, I shall recreate for you that milestone in theatrical history.”
(right) Weaver and Durang clutch each other, while singing the swirling “We’re in a Bouillabaise,” a parody of Jacques Brel’s swirling “Carousel” song.
About the Show:
Durang and Weaver became close friends at Yale School of Drama, appearing in plays together, including some written by Durang.
In late 1979 through February 1980, Durang and Weaver appeared in their cabaret show Das Lusitania Songspiel together, and it became a late night cult hit. In the spring, both Durang and Weaver received Drama Desk nominations for Best Leading Performer in a Musical.
And in 1986 when Weaver hosted Saturday Night Live, she requested that Durang be her co-host, and they performed a 5 minute excerpt from Das Lusitania at the end of the program.
And in 2001 Durang and Weaver did a segment of Das Lusitania Songspiel for Stage Blue, a theatrical celebration of the history of Yale performers over a hundred years, presented at the New Amsterdam Theatre on Broadway.