SAN JOSE, CA--Holly Hunter will star in BY THE BOG OF CATS, a new play by Irish playwright Marina Carr making its American debut at San Jose Repertory Theatre this month. Carr, considered one of Ireland's best young playwrights, was the 1997 playwright in residence at the Abbey Theatre. She won the 1999 Irish Times/ESB Award for Best New Play for By the Bog of Cats.

The play is set in the remote and mystical bogs of the Irish Midlands, and it tells the story of "Traveller" Hester Swane and her fateful attempt to reclaim her lover, her child and her home.

"The role of Hester is one of the most powerful and thrilling tragic heroines I have ever encountered," said director Timothy Near. Hunter also praised the play, calling Carr "a musician. I like how her work sounds...the language is unadorned and guttural. And within that lies its stunning poetry. It really reflects the landscape in which it takes place: the Midland bogs of Ireland. Stark, bleak, endless, lonely, windy as hell, hot like a furnace, or frigidly cold."

(At the San Jose Rep, 101 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose, CA. Runs Sept. 6-Oct. 7, 2001. Call (408) 367-7255.)

LONDON, ENGLAND-- One of the hit plays at the recent Edinburgh Festival, GAGARIN WAY, by Scottish playwright Gregory Burke, has been snatched up by the The Cottesloe, the National Theatre's black box space, and will be rushed into production there Oct. 3-23.

Burke, who was washing dishes in Dumferline before his Edinburgh breakthrough at the Traverse Theatre, has been hailed by critics as another Beckett or Behan thanks to his sharp, bitterly funny dialogue and unique take on contemporary life. His play deals with three Scottish workers who take their boss hostage after a botched heist.

The Guardian's drama critic described Burke's black comedy as "a ton of theatrical dynamite cunningly disguised as a mere Molotov cocktail. It slips down easily and then explodes. It ransacks 20th century political philosophies and ideologies with assurance and poses big questions: can the individual act have greater political symbolism? Is political violence ever justified? What is the difference between revolution and murder and how can you rise above apathy in a world where there is nothing left to believe in? For all its shocking violence, this is an acutely moral play."

First-time playwright Burke consciously tried to break the rules of dramaturgy with Gagarin Way. "If you look in a manual about how to write drama, the number one rule is probably not to begin with a 10-minute joke about Sartre," he said, allowing that his play does exactly that.

Directed by John Tiffany, Gagarin Way is part of Springboards- -a series of partnerships created by the Royal National Theatre Studio with other theatres, enabling work by emerging writers to reach a wider audience.

MRS. FEURSTEIN is going places.

Murray Mednick's play about a woman tormented by memories of the Holocaust is not only being extended through Sept. 23 at Los Angeles' 2100 Square Feet theatre--but transferring to New York shortly after that. The drama, which had its world premiere at 2100 Square Feet in July, has received numerous rave reviews, including "Pick of the Week"
selections in the L.A. Times and L.A. Weekly. Produced by Padua Playwrights Productions, the show will open in October in a venue on 42nd Street's Theatre Row, exact site TBA.

Directed by Roxanne Rogers, the play stars Maria O'Brien and has a cast that includes Christopher Allport, Lynnda Ferguson, Louis R. Plante, Drago Sumonja and Gwendoline Yeo. All of these actors will move with the play to New York.

Mednick, founder of the Padua Hills Playwrights Workshop/Festival--an annual Los Angeles avant-garde theatre event from 1978-1995--has had two other plays produced at 2100 Square Feet this season: 16 Routines and Joe and Betty.

O'Brien plays a Jewish Holocaust survivor who is hired to teach writing at a prep school. When she recognizes one of her fellow teachers and his wife (Allport and Ferguson, respectively) as members of the upper-class Aryan community who murdered 50 men in her Polish home town, she is driven to take revenge. Unwilling to become a murderer herself, she constructs a play in which she expresses her violent fantasies--and her equally passionate sexual feelings for Freida. Yeo plays a psychiatrist trying to cope with Mrs. Feurstein's complex, deeply conflicted self.

"Mednick has wrought a devastatingly powerful journey through the inner workings of the pysche," said Julio Martinez in Daily Variety. The L.A. Times critic described O'Brien's portrayal in the title role as "a towering and protean performance."

Thurs.-Sun. at 8 PM through Sept. 23 (except the week of Sept. 6-9). 2100 Square Feet is located at 5615 San Vicente Blvd. in L.A. (323) 692-2652.