Richard Nelson
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Inspired by the Bertolt Brecht play BAAL, Richard Nelson’s BAL concerns a thoroughly amoral man who destroys the lives of those around him.

Production Info

Cast: 14 total (5 female, 9 male)
Full Length Drama (about 100 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Contemporary Costumes
Categories: ,

Press Quotes

“Conversations with Richard Nelson lead inevitably to two topics: theater and politics. Nelson’s anger and occasional pleasure in the political fortunes of his country are deeply felt. Discourse is essential to his insight, and the news of the day can obsess him. He is not without hope, but sees the gap between America’s lofty goals and its day-to-day reality as an unacceptable burden of citizenship. America’s successes are self-evident to him. Our national failures are what he chooses to confront through the shattered myths, ironic humor and violent imagery of his political plays. Believing that theater and civic argument are not mutually exclusive, he will sacrifice audience ease to confrontational issues: Nelson’s political plays can be willfully disturbing events on stage. This volume contains three of Richard Nelson’s earliest political dramas. Like the works in Volume One of this series, these plays chart the evolution of Nelson’s prolific career as well as his evolution as a major American playwright. THE VIENNA NOTES was first produced Off-Broadway in 1979. Although well-received, it was the fourth Richard Nelson play to be staged in New York in a single year. Its production marked the end of Nelson’s presence as a young writer in that city. His next phase of work took place in the inevitably nomadic world of American regional theater. BAL (following CONJURING AN EVENT) was first staged in Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1979, and in Chicago in 1980. THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO had a 1982 workshop at San Francisco’s Bay Area Playwrights Festival, and a full production at Seattle’s Empty Space in 1983 … The political plays of those years mark Nelson’s intense response to America’s evolution from its left-leaning Post-Watergate era to the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan and the country’s turn to the right. Outrage is the tone of voice that unifies much of his work from this period. Taken together, these three plays present a downward moral trajectory. THE VIENNA NOTES shows a politician who literally lives by acting, almost in opposition to reality. BAL (loosely based upon Brecht’s first play) presents a defiantly evil character whose immoral rampage has political overtones. The sequence ends with THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, in which the familiar Italian folk tale becomes a dangerous Reaganite nightmare. All three plays present victims without redemption — manipulative ‘players’ who are blind to reality and mired in egotism. Nelson warns us about personal and political indulgence, and the threat of greed and selfishness when pitched as a defining social standard.” —Robert Marx, Executive Director of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

About the Author


  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 5/1/2018
Pages 58
ISBN 9780881457537

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
Bal is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC