Hartford Stage Company (Hartford, CT)

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Two actors engae in conversation sitting on a park banch.  A younger man on the right leans forward, while the man on the left bends backwards and presses against the armrest

Frank Wood (left) and Frederick Weller in The Zoo Story, the second act of Edward Albee's Peter and Jerry, directed by Pam MacKinnon at Hartford Stage. Photo by T. Charles Erickson

Hartford Stage Company has become one of the country's leading nonprofit theaters, known for its high-quality productions of classics, neglected modern works, and new plays. In FY 2004, Hartford Stage received an NEA Creativity grant of $35,000 to support a new production of renowned playwright (and 1996 National Medal of Arts recipient) Edward Albee to celebrate the theater's 40th anniversary season. The new full-length play, Peter and Jerry, is an expansion of Albee's first play, The Zoo Story. Albee has written a new one-act play, Homelife, which is the first act of Peter and Jerry. The Zoo Story is the second act.

Hartford Stage's association with Albee goes back to the beginnings of the theater, when founding director Jacques Cartier presented the then-new play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966. Over the ensuing three decades, the theater has produced many of Albee's subsequent works, sometimes under the playwright's direction.

In Peter and Jerry, a quiet and unassuming man, Peter, is simply looking for a quiet place to read his book. In Homelife, he is interrupted by his wife, Ann, who wants to talk about the stuff of life - spinach, cats, kids, marriage, sex, and mortality. In The Zoo Story, we find Peter on his favorite bench in Central Park. His attempt to read his book is thwarted by Jerry, a stranger intent on taking over the bench.

The play ran May 20–June 20, 2004 and was directed by Pam MacKinnon. More than 12,000 people attended the performances.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)