Urban Tulsa Weekly arts writer Holly Wall put together a set of stories on the debut of native Tulsan Tracy Letts' August: Osage County for the Jan. 21 edition and let me tell you, it has me all excited in a my-family-is-dysfunctional-too! sort of way.
August: Osage County is the story of the Westons, a large extended family that comes together at their rural Oklahoma homestead when the alcoholic patriarch disappears. Forced to confront unspoken truths and astonishing secrets, the family must also contend with matriarch Violet, a pill-popping, deeply unsettled woman at the center of this storm.
From Wall's Family Is Where the Drama Is: August: Osage County debuts close-to-home family tale:
"'My wife takes pills and I drink.'"
It sounds like a match made in heaven, doesn't it? Those words are the opening lines of Tracy Letts' acclaimed August: Osage County.
Anticipation is bubbling over for the return of the native, so to speak. Letts brings his epic (three-and-a-half hours and counting), award-winning (a Tony, a Pulitzer, an Outer Critics' Circle, a New York Drama Critics' Circle and two Drama Desks) masterpiece to Tulsa, only 50 miles from Pawhuska, the town on which it is based...
Letts' portrait of a dysfuntional, Midwestern American family took tawdry New York City by storm as much for Letts' storytelling as for his trenchant commentary on the contemporary red state of affairs.
Perhaps that's what we're most looking forward to: We don't just want to see Letts' brilliant work come to life on stage (and later, on screen); we want to see ourselves as we are, whether we are ready for it or not. Here it comes.
What's more exciting about this play is how it carries those favorite words, as evidenced by our obsession with reality television and the memoir literary form, of the American people: "Based on a true story."
See, the play is based on Letts' own family life. As you probably already know, Tracy wasn't the only one to bring fame to the Letts name - his mother, Billie, is the author of several novels, perhaps most notably Where the Heart Is, and his father was actor Dennis Letts, the first to play the patriarch in August: Osage County on Broadway. The play draws heavily from Billie's family and the events that took place within it when Tracy was just old enough to remember.
If you want to know more about the play, you really must pick up the UTW and open to page 16. Holly's not known as the preeminent arts writer in Tulsa for nothin'.
The curtain goes up on August: Osage County for the first time tonight at 7pm. The show continues through Jan. 31. Please keep in mind that this play is intended for mature audiences only. But, trust me, you won't find a better excuse to hire a sitter. Tickets are $20-55 - really, a pittance to pay for the entertainment of your life.
If the forecast for Ice Storm 2010 is true and you're seriously weighing your safety against your chance to see this play live on stage, don't fret. Call (918) 596-7109 to swap your tickets for one of next week's showings. Ain't no thing.
If for some reason that surely involves peril of life or limb you don't get to a showing of August: Osage County before the curtains fall at the end of this month, sit tight. A film adaptation of the play is on the way to the silver screen.