Center for the Arts Presents Olympia Dukakis in ‘Rose’

Posted: May 6, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: May 5, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Olympia Dukakis. Photo by Deborah Feingold

Mason’s Center for the Arts will present Olympia Dukakis, one of the greatest actresses of contemporary cinema and an Academy Award winner, in a concert version of the West End and Broadway hit, “Rose.”

Playwright Martin Sherman’s unforgettable portrait of an 80-year-old Jewish woman, “Rose” takes the audience on a remarkable journey from the tiny shtetl, or village, in Ukraine where Rose lived as a young girl to war-torn Warsaw, the borscht-belts of post-war Atlantic City and modern-day Miami Beach.

This is not only the story of a feisty survivor, but also a timely reminder of the extraordinary events that have shaped the last century. Dukakis performs this one-woman play at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m.

Rose recounts her life story while sitting shiva (a Jewish form of mourning) on a park bench for a young Palestinian girl who was shot and killed during a riot in the West Bank, as well as the many losses in her own life – from her father who was killed during a Cossack raid on their shtetl, to her mother who never embraced her children or told them that she loved them.

She shares memories of her first husband, who was taken away by the Nazis, and her marriage of convenience to her second husband. She laments her lost dream of living in the Jewish homeland. While the historical events Rose recounts are tragic, this spirited octogenarian is funny and self-deprecating and exudes remarkable strength.

The play first premiered in London in 1999 starring Dukakis and moved to Broadway the following year.

An actress, director, producer, teacher, activist and author, Dukakis has starred in more than 50 feature films, including “Steel Magnolias,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “Mighty Aphrodite,” the “Look Who’s Talking” series, “In the Land of Women” and Norman Jewison’s “Moonstruck,” for which she received an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress, the New York Film Critics Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Award and a Golden Globe.

She has received two Obie Awards for Bertolt Brecht’s “A Man’s a Man” and Christopher Durang’s “The Marriage of Bette and Boo” at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in New York City. She has also appeared onstage in “Curse of the Starving Class” by Sam Shepard, “Titus Andronicus,” “Electra” and “Peer Gynt.”

As a founding member and a producing artistic director of the Whole Theatre in Montclair, N.J., for 19 years, she directed and appeared in many productions and received the 1992 New Jersey Governor’s Walt Whitman Creative Arts Award for her work.

Dukakis is also a founding member of the Actor’s Company and the Charles Playhouse in Boston. She taught acting classes to graduate students at New York University for 15 years and currently teaches master classes at universities and colleges around the country. Dukakis has earned several Emmy nominations, as well as Screen Actor’s Guild and BAFTA nominations for her television work.

In addition to acting, Dukakis actively participated in her cousin Michael Dukakis’ 1988 presidential campaign, and is a founding member of Voices of Earth and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and a member of the National Organization for Women, Women in Film and Amnesty International.

She has also spoken at women’s expos and conferences throughout the United States on issues affecting women’s health. Dukakis’ best-selling memoir, “Ask Me Again Tomorrow” was published by HarperCollins Publishers in 2003.

The only child of Russian Jewish immigrant parents, Sherman was raised in Camden, N.J., and developed an interest in theater at an early age. In addition to “Rose,” his plays include “Absolutely! (Perhaps)” “Aristo,” “A Madhouse in Goa” and the Tony-nominated “Bent,” depicting the Nazi persecution of homosexuals during World War II, which was later adapted into a film. He has lived in London since 1980 and has also been nominated for several Laurence Olivier awards.

A discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III. Pre-performance discussions are sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.

Tickets are $44, $36 and $22. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit cfa.gmu.edu.

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