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Rare Chance To Experience Theatrical Masterpiece From America’s Greatest Playwright

A powerhouse company of New Zealand artists, led by Theresa Healey (Head High, Vermilion, The Audience) and Stephen Lovatt (The Power of the Dog, Top of the Lake, Once on Chunuk Bair) will dive deep into a classic play from the American drama canon, presented by Auckland Theatre Company this July.

Considered to be the original founder of 20th Century American drama and the only American playwright to be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, O’Neill also received four Pulitzer Prizes during his remarkable career, the last awarded in 1957 after his death for his searing autobiographical tragedy Long Day’s Journey into Night.

“…leaves you emotionally pulverised by the feeling that O’Neill, in providing an unsparing portrait of his family, is seeking their posthumous forgiveness.” The Guardian

Taking place over one turbulent day in the lives of the Tyrone family at their seaside Connecticut home, Long Day’s Journey into Night lays bare the soul of a family. James, played by Lovatt, the head of the Tyrone family, is held ransom to his own great expectations for himself and his family. Stifled by addiction, rivalry and ill-fated predicament, James and his sons – played by Simon Leary (Shortland Street, Everything After, Filthy Business) and Jarod Rawiri (Fantail, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Cellfish) in his Auckland Theatre Company debut, vie for the love and attention of their wife and mother Mary. Played by Healey, Mary is battling her own not-so-private war of addiction, wrapped in a shroud of bitter memories and resentment.

Theresa Healey joins a top echelon of leading ladies who have taken on the role of Mary Tyrone, often referred to as the female equivalent to Hamlet, due to the demands on an actor’s stamina and the immense skills needed. It requires the actor to play bold contradictions and layering of emotions, with fluidity and velocity. Notable past Mary’s include acclaimed actress’ Jessica Lange, Katharine Hepburn, Vanessa Redgrave and more recently, British actress Lesley Manville in the 2018 New York production.

Long Day’s Journey into Night is a true classic in the way that the storyline, themes and its relevance, can transcend time. Highly esteemed New Zealand Director Shane Bosher has created a new production that fans of the great modern classics will love, and contemporary audiences will find undeniably relatable.

Bosher says, “I have wanted to direct this play for decades. It’s a gripping dissection of family relationships, rich in wisdom and underpinned by deep love, which makes us consider our own lives, our past, our present, our future.

"To me, it is a love letter to humanity. O’Neill wrote about secrets and lies, punishment and forgiveness, recriminations and excuses. The writing is like a piece of extraordinary music: melodies are introduced, then refracted and repeated. And to play that music, you need actors of great depth, courage, virtuosity and technique. I’m so lucky to be working with Theresa, Stephen, Jarod and Simon on one of the most profound and powerful plays ever written.”

Bosher is joined in the creative team by some of New Zealand’s most experienced, award-winning theatre practitioners; Dramaturg Allison Horsley (Jersey Boys, Doctor Zhivago), Set Designer John Verryt (The Haka Party Incident, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Costume Designer Elizabeth Whiting (The Life of Galileo, Shortland Street - The Musical, Joan/The Daylight Atheist) Lighting Designer Sean Lynch (Grand Horizons, Black Lover, The Audience), and Performance Coach Miranda Harcourt.

Long Day’s Journey into Night joins a growing list of American masterpieces that Auckland Theatre Company is well-known for, including To Kill a Mockingbird, August: Osage County, The Crucible, Twelve Angry Men, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. This mid-winter offering is considered by many to be an unmissable opportunity to see one of the most honest and unsparing autobiographical plays of our time, which has never before been staged in Auckland.

“…the most poisonous addiction is one they all share: the irresistible urge to stab at one another’s most vulnerable points, and then pretend they didn’t really mean it. That inexorable cycle of recrimination and consolation is what gives the play its genuine pity and terror.” New York Times

A deeply moving and poetic portrait of the irresistible pull of family and a family’s capacity to heal, Long Day’s Journey into Night plays in-the-round at Q Theatre, 5 – 30 July.

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