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percy-l - Re: [percy-l] A Confederacy of Dunces Stage Performance/Theatrical Outfit, Atlanta ( August 11-Sept. 5, 2010)

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  • From: Garic Barranger <nikkibar AT>
  • To: "Percy-L: Literary and Philosophical Discussion" <percy-l AT>
  • Subject: Re: [percy-l] A Confederacy of Dunces Stage Performance/Theatrical Outfit, Atlanta ( August 11-Sept. 5, 2010)
  • Date: Sat, 3 Jul 2010 19:12:37 -0500

Dear Henry,

I have referred Winston Riley to the list. He is just about to finish up a documentary on Walker and is looking to scrape up the final ten dgrand to pay CNN for sound bites from Shelby Foote. He does excellent work and we should be proud to give him any help we can.


On Jul 2, 2010, at 8:11 PM, Henry Mills wrote:

Percy-L members,

This PSA may be of interest to some of you. A few years ago Theatrical Outfit did a rendition of Lost in the Cosmos, information about which is contained in the Percy-L archives.

Henry Mills

June 28, 2010

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Ruthie Ervin
               ruthieervin AT

(Atlanta, GA)  From August 11-Sept. 5, 2010, Theatrical Outfit will present a world premiere of Tom Key's stage adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  Ever since becoming a 1980 publishing phenomenon and winner of the 1981 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Toole's grand farce, set in 1960s New Orleans, has enticed playwrights and filmmakers alike, but securing the rights to adapt the work has been a rare, much-coveted occurrence.  

            In the fall of 2008, Atlantan Tom Key received an unexpected phone call from the book's agent, who offered him the rights for a limited time.  No stranger to adapting literary works to the stage, Key has enjoyed a successful string of adaptations, including Walker Percy's Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Seminar and The Moviegoer, John Bunyan's classic allegory Pilgrim's Progress, a Reader's Theater extraction of C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory.  Of the initial conversation Key recalls, "I was ecstatic. My antennae are always up for rich dialogue, which is the best soil for translating a piece to the stage, and A Confederacy of Dunces is so full of truth and brilliance and hilarity—there's almost a comic button at the end of every scene."

            Taking its title from a work by Irish satirist Jonathan Swift ("When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him."), A Confederacy of Dunces chronicles the extravagantly colorful, eccentric world of one Ignatius J. Reilly, perhaps one of literature's most enduringly rendered anti-heroes.  A lumbering, loutish mountain of a man, Ignatius carries a volcanic vitriol for the modern era and is ever at the eruption point; with abandon, he spouts and spews his disdain of the social, racial, economic and religious states of contemporary America.  Clad in his trademark green hunting cap with earflaps, voluminous pleated tweed trousers, plaid flannel shirt and muffler (which to Ignatius' mind suggests "a rich, inner life") he spends the bulk of his time in his long-suffering mother's house, feverishly scribbling his lengthy indictment of the last four centuries in Big Chief notebooks. When Ignatius does venture past Constantinople Street, he is forced to function in a culture he loathes, much like his oft-quoted idol, Roman philosopher Boethius.

            The story, in both the novel and Key's stage adaptation, opens at the foot of Canal Street, under the famed D. H. Holmes Department Store clock, with the sun visibly setting on the Mississippi River. From the get-go, Ignatius is embroiled in a madcap misadventure that involves a lute string, a near-riot, and a rickety but lucky escape from the cops.  Soon the seductive, seedy side of New Orleans itself joins a carnival cast of characters ranging from hapless Keystonian police officer Mancuso and cool-jive street-smart Jones to porno-peddling barkeep Lana Lee and muscatel-swilling, bowling addict Santa Battaglia.  When his tipsy mother Irene must anti-up for wrecking a French Quarter façade with her car, Ignatius, "soldier of ideas," must risk "crumbling his psyche" by entering the working man's world to help pay the damages. The ensuing string of jobs and outlandish events create a masterful portrait of a modern-day prophet bellowing in the wilderness.

            While the work is marked by inspired humor and biting satire, it also contains a pathos and profundity that keep its characters from becoming caricatures.  Of Ignatius, Tom Key says, "He is genius with his verbiage, but he's also disconnected from reality.  Ignatius is presented in such a way that he's almost impossible to like, but he so exposes the chronic hypocrisy that exists in the country that we have to pull for him…We want our geniuses to be corporate and well-adapted, so if we cast off the Rileys from our lives—our sometimes off-putting, unchecked natural human impulses—we're the poorer for it as a society."  

            Theatrical Outfit's production of A Confederacy of Dunces will be directed by Richard Garner, Co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of the acclaimed theater Georgia Shakespeare.  Because of his long experience with mounting Shakespearean plays, Garner was Key's immediate choice as director.  Explains Key, "As Walker Percy has noted, A Confederacy of Dunces is a commedia 'of Falstaffian proportions,' and Richard, through his breathtaking imagination, knows how to capitalize on the strengths of live theater to deliver great literature to modern audiences in explosive, surprisingly complex ways."

            Of the challenges presented by the extensive New Orleans locations, Garner comments, "Tom has done a smart job keeping all the flavors of the characters intact while moving the story along with good speed, so we need a creative design conceit that allow us to flow effortlessly from one scenic location to the next."  Referring to Globe Theatre productions, Garner continues, "By fueling the audience's imaginations with a vivid lighting and sound design, we'll provide just enough visual hints to make each space distinctive, while our real focus is to draw out all the glorious quirks for all the characters…this show is going to be an actor's dream with all the detailed vocal and physical work."

            Set designer Sara Ward, a Louisiana native, has drawn on her personal familiarity with New Orleans deftly to create and suggest the distinctive flavors of the French Quarter and the surrounding cityscapes.

            Since 1995, Tom Key has served as Executive Artistic Director of Theatrical Outfit. He conceived and co-authored the off-Broadway hit, Cotton Patch Gospel, with the late singer-songwriter, Harry Chapin, earning two Dramalogue Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Theater and a nomination as Best Actor by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. His one-man play C.S. Lewis On Stage has been presented for over two decades, including productions at The John F. Kennedy Center, Harvard, Yale and Oxford Universities.            

            Richard Garner is in his 24th season as Producing Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Georgia Shakespeare (LORT D), in Atlanta.  He trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and in theatre administration with Leslie Urdang at Double Image Theatre in New York.  His directing credits include Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, The Comedy of Errors, Metamorphoses, Richard II, and the recent world-premiere musical adaptation of Antigone.  He also directed Sarah Ruhl's Eurydice, a co-production between Georgia Shakespeare and the Alliance Theatre.

            Cast in the role of Ignatius is Atlanta newcomer Aaron Munoz, who appeared Off-Broadway in the title role of Frankie, as Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream (Actors Theatre of Louisville), and as Michal in The Pillowman (The Studio Theatre). In the role of Ignatius' long-suffering mother Mrs. Reilly is Kathleen McManus, who grew up in 1960s New Orleans and has been an Atlanta actor for several decades; she was seen last season as Big Edie in Grey Gardens at Actor's Express and Aunt Eller in Oklahoma! at Theatre Emory.  E. Roger Mitchell, who plays the Narrator/Watson, was last seen in Theatrical Outfit's The Sunset Limited, Horizon Theatre's A Cool Drink of Water, and Kenny Leon's True Colors' Jitney, Miss Evers Boys and Ceremonies In Dark Old Men; his upcoming films include Blood Done Sign My Name, The Crazies, and Battle Los Angeles (2011).  

Completing the 16-member cast are: Brik Berkes (Mr. Levy/Ensemble), Andrew Crigler (George/Ensemble), Rachel DeJulio (Waitress/Ensemble), Laura Floyd (Darlene/Myrna/Ensemble), Marianne Fraulo (Trixie/Santa/Miss Annie/Ensemble), Agnes Harty (Lana Lee/Mrs. Levy/Ensemble), Enoch King (Jones/Ensemble), Mark Kinkaid (Sergeant/Ensemble), Eric Mendenhall (Gonzales/Ensemble), William S. Murphey (Claude/Clyde/Ensemble), Andrew Puckett (Dorian/Ensemble), Scott Warren (Mancuso) and Mary Wolfson (Miss Inez/Ensemble).

Members of the creative team are Set Designer Sara Ward, Costume Designer Jamie Bullins, Lighting Designer Mike Post, Sound Designer Thom Jenkins, Props Designer Maclare "MC" Park, and Hair and Wig Designer Monty Schuth.
For more information about show times and tickets, call the box office at 678.528.1500 or visit <> .  Theatrical Outfit, 84 Luckie Street, Atlanta, GA  30303.
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About Theatrical Outfit

Theatrical Outfit entertains, educates and enlivens our audiences by producing classic and contemporary theater with an emphasis on work indigenous to the culture of the American South.  The themes of spirituality and racial understanding are particularly resonant in our culture, and we are committed to giving them dramatic voice in the heart of downtown. Founded in 1976, Theatrical Outfit is dedicated to Atlanta-based artists of national caliber.

 Theatrical Outfit is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization supported by private and public funding, along with ticket sales revenue.  Major support is provided by the Fulton County Commission through the Fulton County Arts Council, the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, the Georgia General Assembly through the Georgia Council for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
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