Arden Theatre Company continues its 2012/13 Season with Freud's Last Session, written by Mark St. Germain and directed by Ian Merrill Peakes. This imagined meeting between C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud will run on the Arcadia Stage from October 25 through December 23, 2012.
On the day England enters World War II, Sigmund Freud invites a young C.S. Lewis to his London flat. Here, the father of modern psychology challenges a little known professor on the brink of literary fame. Freud's Last Session imagines a collision of these two brilliant minds over love, God, and life. The play had a successful two-year run Off Broadway, and the Arden's production will mark the Philadelphia debut of this play hailed by the Chicago Tribune as "a wholly engaging play that will leave you thinking."
Local actor Ian Merrill Peakes previously appeared as C.S. Lewis in a production of the play at Peterborough Players in New Hampshire. Believing that this play was the perfect fit for the Arden, he brought the script to Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen, with the request to direct the play himself. Nolen agreed, and now Peakes makes his directorial debut at the Arden, where he has performed since 1996 and won Barrymore Awards for All My Sons and Something Intangible. Peakes says of Freud's Last Session: "This play contains so much that I love about theatre: great discussion, huge ideas, humor and, of course, blood. Freud and Lewis, two great thinkers of the 20th Century, prove the value of deliberation in a way that provokes conversation among the audience well after the play ends."
David Howey (Arden's August: Osage County and The History Boys) plays Sigmund Freud at the end of his life. In fact, this is Howey's second time playing the great psychologist, as he was a mid-run replacement in The Wilma Theater's Hysteria. Washington D.C.-based actor Todd Scofield makes his Arden debut as C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters, and Mere Christianity, at the beginning of his career. While there is evidence these two men could have met at Freud's London office in 1939, the encounter has been imagined by writer Mark St. Germain (Camping with Henry and Tom, Forgiving Typhoid Mary).
An avid collector of art and artifacts from around the world, Freud's study contained over 2,000 pieces from ancient Egypt, Africa, and the Mediterranean. For the Arden stage, hundreds of replicas have been culled from supporters' private collections, as well as from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology's extensive cast collection. The creative team bringing Freud's study to life includes set designer David P. Gordon (Charlotte's Web, The Whipping Man, Barrymore Award for If You Give a Mouse a Cookie), costume designer Katherine Fritz (Arden Professional Apprentice Class 16, designs with 1812 Productions, Live Arts Festival), lighting designer James Leitner (Rabbit Hole, The Piano Lesson), and sound designer Jorge Cousineau (over 40 Arden plays including Ghost-Writer, The History Boys, Opus).
The final dress rehearsal of Freud's Last Session on Wednesday, October 24 at 8pm is open to the public as a Pay-What-You-Can performance, with all proceeds donated to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Freud's Last Session previews begin on Thursday, October 25. Preview performances run October 25, 26, 27, 28, 30 and 31. Opening night is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, November 1, 2012. The closing date is set for Sunday, December 23, 2012.