French Film Star Isabelle Huppert Stars in '4.48 Psychose,' a New Interpretation of Sarah Kane’s Final Play, at UCLA Live Oct. 5-9
UCLA Live presents Isabelle Huppert, acclaimed French film and theater actress, starring in "4.48 Psychose" with Gérard Watkins. This new interpretation in French of British playwright Sarah Kane's moving final opus is part of UCLA Live's fourth International Theatre Festival. Directed by Claude Régy, the production features Huppert as the central voice in Kane's polyphonic diary of depression, a different take on a work that riveted UCLA Live audiences last season.
Huppert is considered one of cinema's foremost portrayers of women on the edge and she excels in "4:48 Psychose," a work of raw emotion, intense brutality and utter tenderness. The production, in French with English supertitles, is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday, Oct. 5–8; and at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9, at Freud Playhouse on the UCLA campus. The performance runs approximately 70 minutes. There is no intermission. For tickets, call (310) 825‑2101, visit http://www.uclalive.org/ or contact Ticketmaster.
The play, completed by Kane just months before she took her own life in 1999 at age 28, depicts a deeply lyrical and wrenching journey through a dark night of the soul. Régy stages this production as a quasi-monologue, emphasizing the stark beauty of the text's spare writing. Huppert brings a solitary, almost majestic drama to the role, which she performed to critical acclaim in 2002–03 at Peter Brook's Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord in Montparnasse, Paris, as well as in Brazil and Spain.
"The pairing up of these two free radicals makes for volatile chemistry, and the results on stage promise to be highly explosive," wrote Paris Voice.
Régy, an acclaimed director in contemporary theater who has championed the work of English playwrights such as Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard and the French writer Marguerite Duras, admires Huppert for her instinct, intelligence, lucidity and willingness to take risks.
Sarah Kane exploded onto the British theater scene in 1995 with her tortured but poetically brilliant work, and came to be recognized as an important new voice in theater. "4.48 Psychosis" was first performed in London on June 23, 2000, at the Royal Court, a theater collective known for vigorously finding and producing a new generation of playwrights. The play originally was directed by James Macdonald with a cast of Jason Hughes, Marin Ireland and Jo McInnes, who performed at UCLA Live last year as part of the International Theatre Festival.
A harrowing, inside view of suicidal depression, "4.48 Psychosis" is written in a free-form style, with an unspecified number of unnamed characters, suggesting the fragmentation of self and loss of borders experienced by the psychotic mind. The voices could be interpreted as lover, friend, doctor and patient, or the many voices that haunt a troubled mind. Huppert will alternately assume the roles of victim and witness with Gérard Watkins, who provides an alternate voice suggesting that of the doctor.
As an actress known for roles including the cocoa princess in "Merci Pour le Chocolat" who cold-heartedly plans the murder of family and friends; the brutal, sexually repressed Viennese piano teacher in "La Pianiste"; and the troubled Madame Bovary, Huppert is particularly well-suited for this psychologically challenging drama.
Plagued by frequent bouts of depression, Kane named "4.48 Psychosis" after the time of the morning, 4:48 a.m., just before dawn, when her emotional demons often would give way to a moment of clarity. It has been said that many people contemplate suicide during these respites from psychological turmoil and that this is the time when most self-inflicted deaths occur.
Kane's famously controversial first play, "Blasted," made waves in 1995 with her blunt depiction of a world blown apart by physical and emotional violence. While the play was slammed by British critics as "a work devoid of intellectual and artistic merit" (The Telegraph), renowned dramatists including Harold Pinter came to Kane's defense, berating critics for their lack of understanding and describing the work as too sophisticated, too new, too good for them.
Today, Kane is recognized as a visionary and major figure in British theater, whose promising career was cut tragically short by her suicide. Her other works include "Phaedra's Love," "Cleansed" and "Crave," and she served for some time as Royal Court's writer-in-residence.
Director Macdonald wrote, "What she did was gentle, truthful and intelligent. She also loved music, and one day some trainspotter may feel impelled to write a thesis on the number of lines in her plays that are actually borrowed from the works of Joy Division, The Pixies, Ben Harper, Radiohead, P.J. Harvey, The Tindersticks, even Elvis Presley. Her theatrical gods were [Samuel] Beckett, [Harold] Pinter, [Edward] Bond, [Dennis] Potter, but she wrote directly from her own experience and from her heart."
Kane was born in Essex, England, on Feb. 3, 1971. Both parents were journalists and deeply religious. She studied drama at Bristol University, graduating with honors, before completing her M.A. at Birmingham University. Suffering from an often-debilitating bipolar illness, Kane had several spells in the hospital before ending her own life on Feb. 20, 1999.
Influenced by Beckett, Howard Brenton and Georg Büchner, whose play "Woyzeck" she once directed, Kane's works deal uncompromisingly with themes of death, sex, violence and mental illness, and are characterized by a poetic intensity, a rich affirmation of love in all its forms, and by use of in-your-face imagery so powerful that it cuts across and fragments the narrative, creating the illusion of a life torn up by its roots.
One of the most enduring and respected actresses in French cinema, Isabelle Huppert is known for her versatile portrayals of characters ranging from the innocent to the sultry to the comic. Born March 16, 1955, in Paris, she graduated from the Paris Conservatoire d'Art Dramatique and made her first film, "Faustine et le bel été," when she was 16. Her career accelerated rapidly and she soon found work with such acclaimed directors as Bertrand Blier, with whom she made "Les Valseuses" (1974), a film also notable for making a star out of Gérard Depardieu; Otto Preminger, for whom she appeared in "Rosebud" (1975); and Claude Chabrol starting with 1978's "Violette Nozière," for which she won a Best Female Performance award at the 1978 Cannes Film Festival. Also in 1978, she won a British Academy Award for Best Newcomer for her role in "La Dentellière" (The Lacemaker).
Huppert's career has included starring roles in Bertrand Tavernier's "Coup de Torchon" (1981), Jean-Luc Godard's "Passion" (1982) and Diane Kurys' celebrated "Entre Nous" (1983). Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Huppert made an impressive number of films in her native country, collaborating with Chabrol on 1988's "Une Affaire de Femmes" (The Story of Women), the widely acclaimed "Madame Bovary" (1991) and "La Cérémonie" (1995), for which she won a 1996 Best Actress César. Huppert's success in Chabrol's "Merci pour le Chocolat" and her fearless performance as a sexually repressed and self-destructive piano teacher in director Michael Haneke's "The Piano Teacher" (2001) earned her a Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. That film was followed by Francois Ozon's popular international black comedy "8 Women" the following year. Her additional work includes a turn as an opinionated hooker who bonds with her illegitimate daughter in 2002's "Ghost River," Haneke's apocalyptic "Time of the Wolf" in 2003, and Merchant/Ivory's "Le Divorce" and David O. Russell's "I Heart Huckabees" in 2005.
Gérard Watkins was born in London, traveled extensively and has lived in France since 1973. Inspired by a Peter Brook theater workshop at his school when he was 10, he began a career in theater, directing and writing a one-act play, "Dead End," at age 14. His directing work includes "Scorches" in 1984 and several plays successfully produced in France. As an actor, he has performed in more than 30 productions with acclaimed contemporary theater directors including Claude Reggie, Jean-Louis Martin Elli, Bernard Sober, Jean-Pierre Vincent, Elizabeth Callous and Michel Didier. Last year he played the role of Ian in Sarah Kane's "Blasted" to critical and public acclaim, and after the "4.48" tour will perform in André Engel's "King Lear," produced at Odéon, the National Theatre in Paris.
Isabelle Huppert in "4.48 Psychose" is part of UCLA Live's International Theatre Festival. Now in its fourth year, this festival showcases a groundbreaking array of productions from countries including Britain, Poland and Italy. Running from October through December, the festival serves as a portal for audiences to experience significant and challenging international work. By introducing compelling and adventurous artists of worldwide stature, UCLA Live continues to stretch artistic boundaries with a variety of world, North American, West Coast and L.A. premieres.
UCLA Live's 2005–06 Fourth International Theatre Festival
· Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 12–16: Poland's Song of the Goat theater company in their West Coast debut presents "Chronicles: A Lamentation," a dramatic tapestry that incorporates music, dance and mime, based on the ancient Sumerian poem "Epic of Gilgamesh."
· Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 20–23: Italy's Piccolo Teatro di Milano's "Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters" is a colorful and timeless landmark of 20th-century physical comedy. Written in 1745 by Carlo Goldoni, it stars the brilliant Italian actor Ferruccio Soleri in the U.S. tour of the role he has defined for 45 years.
· Wednesday-Sunday, Oct. 26–30: Powerful Ugandan American actor Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine commands the stage in the Los Angeles premiere of "Biro," a solo portrayal of the true story of one man's epic journey from the 1979 Ugandan insurgency to a clandestine Cuban military camp, to a Texas jail cell.
· Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 9–26: Britain's Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in their triumphant return to UCLA Live, brings "Measure for Measure," an unmatched "original practices" classic production featuring the unforgettable Mark Rylance in his final season as the company's acclaimed actor and artistic director.
· Thursday-Sunday, Dec. 1–4: Britain's Forced Entertainment performs the North American premiere of "Bloody Mess," a physically demanding dark comedy and modern manifesto combining artistic camp and visual spectacle.
Tickets to "4.48 Psychose" starring Isabelle Huppert are available for $50 and $40 at the UCLA Central Ticket Office at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center, online at http://www.uclalive.org/ and at all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information or to charge by phone, please call (310) 825-2101. UCLA students may purchase tickets in advance for $17. Student rush tickets at the same price, subject to availability, are offered to all students with a valid ID one hour prior to show time.
The UCLA Live International Theatre Festival is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.
"4:48 Psychose" is supported by Etant donnés: the French-American Fund for the Performing Arts, a Program of FACE.
UCLA Live is an internationally acclaimed producer and presenter of music, dance, theater and spoken word, bringing hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeles each year. Lectures, residencies and extensive outreach programs expand the impact of its unparalleled performances that include a lively mix of distinguished masters and innovators from around the world.