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“We’re all of us sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life.”—Tennessee Williams, Orpheus Descending

Orpheus Descending
By Tennessee Williams
Featuring Maggie Siff
Directed by Erica Schmidt
July 9 – August 6, 2023

Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending is a uniquely imaginative mix of styles. It is steamy and lyrical, a love story and a tragedy, blending realism, expressionism and poetry, and tells the story of the passion of two outcasts—Lady Torrance, a storekeeper’s wife and daughter of a murdered Sicilian bootlegger and Val, a wandering guitar player—and their doomed attempt to escape from a Southern Hell. Set in a dry-goods store in the 1950s deep South, the play’s toxic brew of racist violence, bigotry, misogyny, provincialism, and sexual passion evokes an American past that unfortunately is not the past, and that seethes with hatred, savagery, and longing for liberation. Maggie Siff will play Lady Torrance.

Frank Rich, in his 1989 New York Times review of Orpheus Descending, wrote that the play was “a pivotal chapter in the author’s canon, reverberating throughout his career.” Erica Schmidt, who adapted and directed Shakespeare’s Macbeth for seven schoolgirls entitled Mac Beth (“raucously exuberant,” New York Times Critics Pick), stages, in her TFANA debut, this seldom-seen Williams masterpiece. 

Maggie Siff (Actor) is about to start shooting the seventh season of Showtime’s Billions (three Satellite Award nominations). She is also known for the FX series Sons of Anarchy (two Critics’ Choice Award nominations), and for playing “Rachel Menken” on the first season of AMC’s Mad Men (Screen Actors Guild Award nomination). Recent films include The Short History of the Long Road, A Woman/A Part, The Sweet Life, The Fifth Wave, One Percent More Humid, and Concussion. Siff is also an established theater actress, starring most recently in Signature Theatre’s production of Curse of the Starving Class, as well as in A Lie of the Mind at the New Group (directed by Ethan Hawke) and in Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew at TFANA.

Erica Schmidt (Director) adapted/directed Cyrano with The National (Goodspeed, New Group); and directed MacBeth (Lucille Lortel, Hunter Theater Project, Drama Desk nominations for Best Direction and Revival and Lortel nomination for Best Revival); All the Fine Boys (The New Group); Richard 2 (The Old Globe); A Month in the Country (Classic Stage Company); Taking Care of Baby (Manhattan Theatre Club); Humor Abuse (co-creator/director; MTC, The Taper; Lucille Lortel Award); Rent (Tokyo); Trust (The Play Company, Callaway Award nominee); As You Like It (The Public Theater); Debbie Does Dallas (adapted/directed Off-Broadway; Princess Grace Award 2001). Schmidt wrote the screenplay for Cyrano (BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for Best Film).



Deloitte and Bloomberg Philanthropies are the 2022-2023 Season Sponsors.

Principal support for Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs is provided by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation Fund in the New York Community Trust, The SHS Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Thompson Family Foundation.

Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs are also made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.