' Interview With Ethan McSweeny - Part 1 CurtainUp Main Page

A CurtainUp Interview
Director Ethan McSweeny: Part One (of Two)

Les Gutman Interviewer

After receiving Columbia's first-ever undergraduate degree in Theatre and Dramatic Arts (a major he helped develop), Ethan McSweeny returned to his native DC to spend four years working as Assistant Director under Michael Kahn [Artistic Director at The Shakespeare Theatre]. Last year, when he got his first professional engagement as a director, at Arlington, Virginia’s Signature Theatre, little did he know it would catapult him (and the show, John Logan’s Never the Sinner) to rave reviews Off-Broadway in New York .   

When I visited with McSweeny at a Capitol Hill diner in the middle of January, he was in rehearsals for his current DC project, Washington Shakespeare Company’s production of Marivaux’s The Triumph of Love, opening on January 20. He was also about to restage Never the Sinner -- for the fourth time since last August -- as it moves into a larger off-Broadway theater (the John Houseman, on 42nd Street) for an open-ended commercial run starting January 24. 

In the first part of this two-part interview, we will focus on the Marivaux play. In the second part, we will talk about the ascendancy of Never the Sinner. In both, we will find out more about Ethan McSweeny and his perspectives on theater. 

CurtainUp recently reviewed the musical version of Marivaux's play, which is based on a translation by its book writer, James Magruder. (It closed 1/04/98.) Mr. Magruder was also interviewed in CurtainUp at that time. Ethan McSweeny's production is based on a different translation – by Stephen Wadsworth. Wadsworth, in turn, also translated another Marivaux play, The Inconstant Lovers (Changes of Heart), which CurtainUp reviewed in the Berkshires last summer. Readers may also want to refer back to CurtainUp's recent feature on translations, by Estelle Gilson. Links to all of these items can be found at the end of this interview.

CU: This seems like an incredibly busy time for you. CU: How did you get involved in the WSC [Washington Shakespeare Company] production of Triumph? CU: Did you have a particular interest in Marivaux? CU: Why did it appeal to you? (Perhaps I should confess I'm not that fond of it so it makes me wonder.) CU: In our interview with James Magruder, he said he's not a storyteller, he's a stylist, and that's why it appealed to him. CU: Did you pick the Stephen Wadsworth translation? CU: Did you look at other translations, or at the original? CU: There's something very sinister about what you've done here. I started out saying I didn't really like the play, and now I can't wait to see it.

Washington Shakespeare Company's production of Marivaux's THE TRIUMPH OF LOVE is playing at the Clark Street Playhouse, 601 South Clark Street, Arlington, Virginia, through February 15. Telephone (703) 418-4808.

CurtainUp's  Review of Triumph of Love
Interview with James Magruder
CurtainUp's review of The Inconstant Lovers (Changes of Heart)
Feature on translations

©January 1998, Elyse Sommer , CurtainUp.

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