University of Rochester

EVENT: University of Rochester's International Theatre Program Presents David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men

September 29, 2010

Visiting Director Daniel Fish Brings New Adaptation of Acclaimed Short Stories to Todd Theatre

Bizarre and dark yet also familiar and funny, David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men debuts on Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Todd Theatre on the University of Rochester's River Campus. Newly adapted and directed by visiting guest artist and director Daniel Fish, the production is presented by Rochester's International Theatre Program.

Fish describes Wallace as "uniquely open to the world and awake to everything around him." A long time sufferer of severe depression, Wallace took his own life in 2008. Rochester's production of Wallace's work is as much a tribute to the author as an exploration of his innovative style. "Like Wallace's work, these performances explore reading and storytelling in a peculiarly visceral way," said Nigel Maister, artistic director of the International Theatre Program.

Wallace is one of the most influential and innovative prose writers of contemporary literature. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, a short story collection, was published in 1999, and was a national bestseller and winner of the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction. A complex and unsettling work, it was recently made into a film, directed by and starring John Krasinski (The Office, Away We Go).

"[Fish's] work displays a fierce intelligence and artistic rigor, while taking equal delight in theatricality, absurdity, and comic spontaneity," said Maister. The actors listen to Wallace's original text on headphones and speak his lines aloud simultaneously in an unscripted performance. "Each performance will be a unique theatrical event," added Maister.

Fish makes his Rochester debut with Brief Interviews, following an international career that has taken him from New York City to Berlin. He has directed stage productions ranging from Shakespeare to experimental work by emerging playwrights. He has taught directing at the Yale School of Drama, Princeton University, University of California at San Diego, and Bard College.

The scenic design for Brief Interviews is by Laura Jellinek, who has worked for numerous theater, opera, and dance companies before coming to Rochester. Jellinek's recent projects include The Really Big Once (David Herskovits, Target Margin Theatre) and T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party (The Actors Company Theatre).

Baryshnikov Fellowship-winner Andrea Lauer designed the production's costumes. Lauer recently made her Broadway debut with Green Day's American Idiot and her designs have been featured in Yale School of Drama's Theatre magazine and Sabine Seymour's book Fashionable Technology.

Bruce Steinberg designed the lighting. Steinberg is the winner of the New York Innovative Theater Outstanding Lighting Design Award. Ian Turner, composer, musical director, recording artist, filmmaker, and performer, designed sound for After DFW. This is Turner and Fish's third theatrical collaboration.

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men opens Thursday, Oct.14, and runs through Saturday, Oct. 23. Performances are at the Todd Theatre on the University of Rochester's River Campus. Tickets are $7 for students, $10 for UR Alumni, faculty, and staff, and for senior citizens (55 and over); and $13 for the general public. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling (585) 275-4088. Tickets also may be purchased an hour before each performance at the box office. The performance is recommended for mature audiences.