A peek behind the curtain of David Bowie’s play Lazarus
The rock icon David Bowie has constantly re-invented himself time and again over the decades. This time, not only has Bowie come out with a new sound for his latest album after a ten-year break, he’s also trying out a new role: as co-playwright for his play Lazarus.
To be directed by Belgian director Ivo van Hove, Lazarus is inspired by– and a kind of sequel to– The Man Who Fell to Earth, a 1963 sci-fi novel by Walter Tevis. The book was later turned into a 1976 screen adaption, whose main character, Thomas Newton, had been played by Bowie.
Moreover, the production– which is set to premiere in New York on December 7 at the Off-Broadway New York Theatre Workshop– will feature new songs specially composed for the play by Bowie, as well as new arrangements of his old songs.
Together with Irish playwright Enda Walsh, Bowie had worked on this secret project for years.
Who are the people behind the play Lazarus?
Bowie is now following in the footsteps of other rock and pop legends writing music for theater, like David Byrne and Elton John.
In an interview with the New York Times, van Hove said he at first didn’t believe that he had been selected to direct a David Bowie project.
“I didn’t believe it. I thought this is one of the tricks that one of my actors plays with me on my computer,” he said.
However, he admitted that if he weren’t drawn to the story and characters of Lazarus, he wouldn’t have been able “to give everything and demand everything.”
“Because I am not for hire. I hope I am a craftsman,” he said.
On the other hand, Walsh spoke of writing a new chapter on Thomas Newton: ““This is really my territory. I understand that isolated, lonely, broken, unstable sort of character.”
“For some audiences, it will break their hearts to see that man go where he has to go. In a way we just want him to find rest, we want him to find a proper death, a proper release, whatever that is,” he added.
Who have been cast in the play Lazarus?
Sadly, the play will not feature Bowie in the cast. But the alien Thomas Newton will now be played by Michael C. Hall, formerly of the TV show Dexter. The production will also star Cristin Milioti and Michael Esper.
Hall was enthusiastic about his involvement, saying: “The script will continue to reveal itself to us in ways that will be surprising.”
“There’s something liberating about it. There are certain things I get to do in this show that I’ve always wanted to do in my life. Like wrecking things. It sort of gives me permission to do that,” Milioti said.
What is the play Lazarus all about?
If everyone seems to be pretty tight-lipped about the play, it’s not surprising. This is a David Bowie project, after all, so it needs some pizzazz.
But the mystery– and the name attached to the play– has definitely attracted attention such that tickets sold out in the first three hours. What’s more, the New York Theatre Workshop has added an additional three weeks of performances.
James C Nicola, the artistic director of the New York Theatre Workshop, said: “It’s going to be a play with characters and songs– I’m calling it music theatre, but I don’t really know what it’s going to be like. I just have incredible trust in their creative vision.”
For the rest– well, you just need to watch the play Lazarus.