Simon Stephens, whose play HARPER REGAN opens tonight at the Atlantic Theater Company, was featured in the Sunday, October 7 New York Times. Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, the production plays a limited engagement through Sunday, October 28 at the Linda Gross Theater.
The New York Times
Specializing in Secrets and Their Dear Cost
By PATRICK HEALY
October 7, 2012
THE Off Broadway play “Harper Regan,” a 2008 British drama about a woman swamped by family problems, was first going to be called “Seth Regan,” after Harper’s troubled husband. The title change was hardly superficial for the playwright, Simon Stephens. Like Tennessee Williams, who wrote several versions of (and titles for) “A Streetcar Named Desire” before realizing that his real subject was Blanche DuBois, Mr. Stephens goes down as many rabbit holes as necessary to discover the ideal wonderland in which to set his stories and characters.
In the case of the Regans, Mr. Stephens initially wanted to write about the emotional chaos set off by sexual improprieties as a way to explore how desire can conflict with morality. Mr. Stephens consumed books and movies about compulsive behavior and molestation, then outlined scenes. When he was about to start writing dialogue, Mr. Stephens found himself in a meeting with the artistic director of the National Theater in London, Nicholas Hytner, who was lamenting the lack of new plays with major roles for actresses in their 40s and 50s.
“I was silently furious with Nick, thinking you can’t impose a scheme on writers like that,” Mr. Stephens recalled during an interview this summer at the National, where he was rehearsing his new play, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
“So I sat there and muttered in my head: ‘O.K., so what if the first scene of “Seth Regan” is not about Seth but instead it’s his wife asking her boss for time off because of a family problem? That would be’ ” — he paused for dramatic effect — “ ‘more interesting. And what if it’s Harper running into a young man who she finds herself flirting with, rather than Seth meeting a teenage girl? Much more interesting.’ ”
To read the rest of the feature, follow the link: http://theater.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/theater/specializing-in-secrets-and-their-dear-cost.html?ref=theater&_r=0