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Taper Postpones 'Homebody/Kabul'

July 31, 2002|LISA FUNG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Homebody/Kabul," the new play about Afghanistan by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner that was to open the 2002-03 season at the Mark Taper Forum, has been postponed for a year.

"I wanted a breather and time to look at it again and make decisions about a director and all sorts of other things--and this September felt rushed," Kushner said.

Taper artistic director Gordon Davidson said that the production, to be directed by Frank Galati, will open the 2003-04 season, following a run at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre.

Davidson said he and the playwright mutually agreed to the delay to allow Kushner to do additional work on the play, which had its world premiere in December 2001 at the off-Broadway New York Theatre Workshop. It has gone on to productions in Berkeley; Providence, R.I.; and London.

"Rather than simply say we scheduled it and have to do it, I said we'll delay it if you're still willing to do the work," Davidson said.

When "Homebody" opened in New York last year within months of the attacks on the World Trade Center, critics generally responded positively, calling the play "eerily prescient" and "uncannily topical" because of its discussion of the Taliban and U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. Yet while the New York Times' Ben Brantley called the work "a fusion of politics, poetry and boundless empathy transformed through language into passionate, juicy theater," he also referred to the nearly four-hour production as "lumbering yet compelling."

Kushner won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for "Angels in America," a two-part epic on the AIDS crisis, which had its world premiere at the Taper in 1992-93. An HBO film version of that play, which will feature Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson, is in the works. In addition, Kushner is collaborating with Jeanine Tesori and George C. Wolfe on the musical "Caroline or Change," which will begin workshops in October at New York's Public Theater.

Among other projects, he is also working on a film for Paramount and is collaborating with Maurice Sendak on an American version of the children's opera "Brundibar," which will premiere in Chicago. And, he says, he is working on "a contemporary play that addresses a gay subject matter."

Davidson said he has not selected a replacement for "Homebody/Kabul," which was to open on Sept. 19. "I'm hot on the trail of two other plays," he said, but he declined to name them.

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