Nina Dalton is a major movie star performing in a new play by her older, Pulitzer Prize-winning husband, Brian Bartov. Their world is shaken by the return of Gar Jackson, Nina’s former love, who has spent the past 20 years creating a work of staggering beauty and epic proportions…for Nina.
For Nina, like most of my plays, grew out of a strange stew of ingredients. Foremost is my love of the plays of Anton Chekhov, particularly The Seagull. Just before I started writing For Nina, I had directed a workshop/reading of Chekhov’s play. The more I thought about the characters, the more I felt for the plight of Nina and Kostya, the young couple whose lives are so altered–mostly by their own folly–during the action of the play. Having been young and stupid myself once upon a time, I hated the thought of their youthful mistakes dictating their futures. So I determined to write a play where Nina, later in life, found success, fame, and something resembling happiness. I did not want the play to be bound by any fealty to Chekhov, so I changed the time and place to the Berkshires in contemporary Massachusetts and the high life of the rich and famous world of movie stars, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists, Broadway, and more to the point: Art versus Commerce.
Some years before, I had acted in a starry production of Canadian playwright Timothy Findley’s play, The Stillborn Lover, at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The production was directed by Martin Rabbett and starred Richard Chamberlain. Martin, Richard and I were friends, so we managed an arrangement with the theater and ended up sharing a beautiful estate on 200 acres in Stockbridge. We had many dinner, cocktail, and pool parties with much discussion about a life in the arts. Out of this–and so much else–For Nina was born.
|Brian Bartov||David Kelly|
|Nina Dalton||Robin Goodrin Nordli|
|Gar Jackson||U. Jonathan Toppo|
|Denise Jones||Meghan Nealon|
|Connie Ward||Elizabeth Gudenrath|
|Carl Sauers||Rodney Gardiner|
|Stage directions||Marie-Claire Erdynast|
Set in Stockbridge, MA, in the summer of 2004.
Robert Emmet Lunney is an actor and playwright. He starred in season one of The Exorcist for Fox Television and has appeared extensively on and off Broadway. His play Famous Blue Raincoat was a finalist for the 2015 Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference after being developed and work-shopped with Naked Angels (NYC).
For Nina, twice a semifinalist for the O’Neill, has been work-shopped by Two River Theater (Red Bank, NJ), The Directors Company (NYC), The American National Theatre (NYC), and The Labyrinth Theatre.
Lunney’s absurdist dark comedy An Occurrence At Yankee Stadium has had developmental readings with Manhattan Class Company and the Lark Play Development Center (NYC). Other works include Cannon Beach, a detective noir; and When You Wake, a screenplay.
Performing highlights include Tobias in Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (Broadway); Michael in Brian Friel’s Dancing At Lughnasa (Broadway); Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird (Ford’s Theater/D.C.); Howard Barker’s solo poem Gary, The Thief (World Premier/Potomac Theatre Project/NYC); Ball in Mr. Barker’s Victory (PTP/NYC); and Roy Cohn in Tony Kushner’s Angels In America (Guest Artist/University of Alabama).
Lunney is director of the Barker Project, a loose affiliation of theater artists, founded on the principle that argument and entertainment need not be mutually exclusive.
Public reading at the end of March 2019 in Los Angeles by The Road Theatre.
Part of the 2019 Williamstown Theatre Festival’s Fridays@3 Reading series on July 12 with Dylan Baker directing.