Mike Bartlett, author of the Royal Court Theatre’s Olivier Award-winning play COCK, is featured in The New York Times.
The Playwright Who Chose That Title
By MATT WOLF, The New York Times
LATE in 2009 Mike Bartlett opened his third play at the Royal Court Theater here, where it sold out its entire run before the first preview and went on to win an Olivier Award the next March. The same play is now in previews Off Broadway for its American premiere, with a different cast but with the London creative team on board.
But what is the play’s name? There’s the rub. As have other Royal Court dramatists before him, Mr. Bartlett has given his work a title that cannot be printed in most daily newspapers. Let’s just say that the word will be instantly recognizable either as a slang reference to a portion of the male anatomy or for any of its multiple other meanings, which include a barnyard animal and also a verb that you might apply when preparing to use a gun. (The barnyard image dominates the clever Web site, cockfightplay.com, for the New York production, which opens May 17 at the Duke on 42nd Street.)
“I tried to go, ‘I can’t call it that,’ ” Mr. Bartlett said one recent afternoon, seated in a conference room at the Royal Court here, where his latest play, “Love, Love, Love,” opened on Thursday. “I thought, ‘C’mon, with all the beautiful titles out there?’ And a friend of mine said, ‘Either it will be incredibly embarrassing, or it will be successful, and you’ll be known as the guy that wrote that play.’ “ In any case, “once plays get titles, it’s very difficult to change them,” Mr. Bartlett said. He thought of this title halfway through working on the play, which he said was written over a week.
Tall and balding, with an immediate warmth that at no time suggests controversy, Mr. Bartlett, 31, expressed his desire that the play’s content be taken seriously, however cheeky or irreverent the title. “Once people are in the theater, I think they will see something that isn’t juvenile or willfully rude and, absolutely, I hope has got thoughts and ideas.” Not least of those is the indecisiveness of a central character, John, whose evasiveness on issues of sexuality and self-definition exists in deliberate contrast with the play’s stark and pithy name. Committed, or so it would seem, to a relationship with an older man known simply as M, John unleashes all manner of furies by falling for a woman, referred to (you guessed it) simply as W.
Click here to read the entire story.
Written by Mike Bartlett, directed by James Macdonald and starring Jason Butler Harner as M, Amanda Quaid as W, Cory Michael Smith as John and Cotter Smith as F, COCK is now in previews and will open Off-Broadway at The Duke on 42nd Street, a NEW 42nd STREET project, 229 West 42nd Street, on Thursday, May 17 (previews began May 1).
“One of the most distinguished pieces of theatre to hit the London stage in the past year. Arresting.”
“Smart, prickly and rewarding view of sexual and emotional confusion. Impressive.”
“Compelling. Written with toe-curling frankness, wry humour and gut-wrenching precision. The hottest piece of new writing at the moment on the London stage.”
COCK is produced by Stuart Thompson, Jean Doumanian and the Royal Court Theatre. They will be joined by William Berlind, Scott Delman, Dena Hammerstein, Jon B. Platt, Scott Rudin, Ted Snowdon, True Love Productions.
The design team for COCK is comprised of Miriam Buether (Scenic and Costume design), Peter Mumford (Lighting Design) and Darron L West (Sound Design).
When John and his boyfriend take a break, the last thing he expects is to suddenly meet the woman of his dreams. Now he has a big choice to make.
Tickets for COCK are available by calling The Duke on 42nd Street Box Office at 646-223-3010 or online at www.Dukeon42.org Box office hours are: Tuesday-Fridays from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM; Saturdays from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM. Box office hours are Tuesday-Fridays from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Saturdays from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM and Sundays from 1:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
The performance schedule is Tuesday through Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm and 7pm.
For more information about COCK, visit www.CockfightPlay.com.
# # #
** If your publication will not allow you to print the title as “Cock,” we suggest you print the following:
“_ _ _ _” (The Cockfight Play)
“_ _ _ _” (www.CockfightPlay.com)