David Emmes, producing artistic director of South Coast Repertory Theatre, left this week for Singapore to explore the prospect of an SCR tour of the Far East with stops in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
"The Singapore Arts Festival extended an invitation for the company to come over with a production in June of 1990," Martin Benson, who co-directs the Costa Mesa troupe, said Tuesday. "We've talked about the possibility of doing two plays there in repertory. I think it probably will be a 'go.' "
Benson cautioned, however, that Emmes hadn't yet seen the theatrical facilities in Singapore. "So we don't know what's really going to happen," he said. "It may turn out to be one play, or it may turn out to be none at all."
Benson said Emmes will swing back through Tokyo to investigate a potential tour of Japan and will stop in Hong Kong to test interest in having the SCR troupe tour there as well. If a tour can be arranged, he said, it probably will last from 3 weeks to a month.
It is not clear how SCR would finance the project. Benson said he understands that the Singapore arts festival would underwrite the costs, "but just how much we don't know yet. They probably give a fixed amount. That's what David will be finding out."
Emmes' trip to the Far East comes on the heels of an April visit to the Soviet Union that may result late next season in the American premiere of a contemporary Soviet play at SCR. The piece, which recently had its premiere in Moscow, is tentatively titled "The Teacher of Russian" and is by a little-known writer, Alexander Buravsky.
It was among a handful of plays that Emmes scouted in Moscow and in the Georgian city of Tblisi during a weeklong visit arranged by Michael Imison, a London theatrical agent who represents Soviet playwrights in the West.
Emmes was in a group of British and American theater directors invited by Imison. The group, which also included Sam Wood of the San Diego Repertory and Ted Schmitt of the Cast Theater in Hollywood, met with more than a dozen Soviet playwrights to discuss the possibility of staging their work outside the Soviet Union.
Benson said SCR will commission a literal translation of Buravsky's play. "David was taken with what he saw in Moscow," he explained. "Now we'd like to understand exactly what the text says. Then if we still like it, we'll commission an American playwright to adapt it for us."
Benson said that SCR is shooting for a production on the Second Stage next season, but that the timing is uncertain. "It could be the season after, depending on how things go," he said.
Meanwhile, it is virtually certain that SCR will mount "Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune" next spring on the Second Stage as a vehicle for Richard Doyle and Karen Hensel, both SCR veterans. The play, by Terrence McNally, originated at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York in 1987 and was done with the same cast--Kathy Bates and Kenneth Welsh--at the Mark Taper Forum in November, 1988.
"It's a charming little play about two disaffected folks who are alone in the world," Benson said.