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|This Is Our Youth|
|Written by||Kenneth Lonergan|
|Characters||Dennis, Warren, Jessica|
|Date premiered||October 26, 1996|
|Place premiered||Intar Theatre, New York City|
The play takes place in Dennis Ziegler's apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in March 1982. Dennis's friend Warren Straub, a dejected 19-year-old, has just been kicked out of his house and stolen $15,000 from his abusive lingerie-tycoon father. Dennis, the more wily and domineering of the two, spends some of the money on cocaine, hoping to sell it to a friend for much more. Jessica Goldman, an "anxiously insightful" fashion student, comes over and Warren hopes that he can use the money to entice her into bed.
The play explores timeless issues of adolescence and maturity, as well as the Reagan Era in which it is set: the characters feel adrift in 1980s-style materialism.
This Is Our Youth premiered as a one-act titled Betrayal by Everyone in 1993 at the Met in a festival of short plays.
Originally produced by The New Group, the play opened Off-Broadway at the Intar Theatre on October 26, 1996 and closed on November 24, 1996 after 22 performances. Directed by Mark Brokaw, the cast featured Josh Hamilton as Dennis, Mark Ruffalo as Warren, and Missy Yager as Jessica. It again played Off-Broadway in a Second Stage revival at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, from November 3, 1998 to May 2, 1999, with the original cast, except for Mark Rosenthal as Dennis. It transferred to the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre.
The US West Coast premier took place in October, 2000 at the B Street Theater in Sacramento, CA, produced by co-founding brothers Buck and Timothy Busfield. The play starred Peter Humer, Andrew Benator and Jessica Goldman and was directed by Amy Resnick.
In the West End, it played at the Garrick Theatre from March 1 to April 20, 2002, produced by Phil Cameron for Background, Clare Lawrence and Anna Waterhouse for Out of the Blue (for and on behalf of Back to Blue Limited). The cast starred Jake Gyllenhaal, Hayden Christensen, and Anna Paquin.
A non-equity production directed by Serge Seiden was presented by Studio Theatre 2ndStage in Washington, DC from May 16 to June 30, 2002. The cast included Karl Miller, Jon Bernthal, and Amy Montminy.
In 2003, Woody Harrelson directed a production of This Is Our Youth for the Berkeley Street Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with Fabrizio Filippo, Marya Delver and Marcello Cabezas in the cast.
The play premiered on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in previews beginning August 18, 2014 and opening September 11, 2014 for a twenty-week run (through January 4, 2015). Directed by Anna D. Shapiro and produced by Steppenwolf, the cast starred Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin, and Tavi Gevinson. Prior to Broadway, this production ran at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Chicago, with the same director and cast, from June 10 to July 27, 2014. Also prior to Broadway, Cera and Culkin, who co-starred in 2010's Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, had been in talks to stage a revival in New York during 2010; they later headlined a run at the Sydney Opera House in March 2012.
Writing in The New York Times, critic Peter Marks called the play (in 1996) "a revealing and offbeat dissection of its world," adding, "It is not easy to find love and humor in the middle of nowhere. But with the skill of a first-rate creative team, even nowhere can be someplace special." Reviewing the 1998 production two years later, Marks wrote, "'This Is Our Youth' is back, and not a moment too soon. In a season in which some of the wise men of the theater have been trying to force-feed insipid fare like 'Stupid Kids' and 'Footloose' to young audiences, it's sheer relief to celebrate the return of a rambunctious and witty play about wayward teen-agers and post-adolescents that doesn't turn youthful travails into plastic rap." Marks cited the play's "indelible impression," the playwright's "unfailing antennae," writing, "'This Is Our Youth'-- by turns caustic, cruel and compassionate -- is the real real world."
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