intense 1976 police drama, begins a month-long run at Theater Two in
Arlington's Gunston Art Center on January 4; and embodies the American Century
Theater's core mission of presenting important 20th Century plays. The
ground-breaking thriller by Terry Curtis Fox had a major impact on American
culture and entertainment, and is sure to have an impact on audiences as well.
Through most of the Seventies, police dramas on television
and movies celebrated the undeniable heroism of urban law enforcement by
glamorizing it in unrealistic shows like "Charlie's Angels" and "Starsky and
Hutch." Then Terry Curtis Fox wrote Cops for Chicago's daring Organic Theater, and the
sensational play ripped away the glamour for all time. The play's complex
portrayal of police as complex and conflicted participants in a sometimes crude
and brutal environment led directly to "Hill Street Blues," the legendary
television show that paved the way for "NYPD Blue," "The Wire" and "The
Shield." "Cops" also helped launch the careers of Dennis Franz, later the star
of "NYPD Blue," and David Mamet favorite Joe Montegna. And today nobody thinks
of urban law enforcement as "glamorous."
The play realistically depicts a brief, violent and
disturbing encounter between a bungling criminal and three police officers in a
Director Stephen Jarrett, whose previous work with TACT included Luv, believes the close proximity of
the Theater Two audience will create exactly the effect that the playwright
Jarrett's accomplished cast is a mixture of TACT audience
favorites and impressive newcomers. Shane Wallis, whose powerful presence
contributed to such TACT productions as Machinal,
Moby Dick Rehearsed and Mister Roberts, and John Bailey,
whose quirky characters have been highlights of such shows as Hollywood Pinafore, The Boys in the Band
and The Seven Year Itch, join
with Regan Wilson, Honora Talbott, Robert Heckart, Bill Gordon, Brian Razzino
and Bruce Follmer, last with TACT in its very first production, Twelve Angry Men. Not all of them are
left standing by the end of the play.
Producer Rhonda Hill and Stage Manager Alecia Oliver have
entrusted the show's set design to Trena Weiss-Null, with lighting by AnnMarie
Castrigno. Karen Curie is handling the props, including several guns, and the
sound design is by technical director Michael Null. Rip Claassen is the costume
Cops opens January 4, and runs through January 26.
The American Century Theater performs at Theater II, Gunston Arts
Center (2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, Virginia).
Performances are Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8PM, with Saturday or
Sunday matinees at 2:30PM. More information is available at www.americancentury.org.