Race Closes on Broadway


David Mamet’s provocative legal drama Race, starring Eddie Izzard, Dennis Haysbert, Afton C. Williamson and Richard Thomas, ended its Broadway run Aug. 21 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre.

Mamet also directed his play, which began previews Nov. 17, 2009, and officially opened Dec. 6. Race is not only the longest-running play of the 2009-2010 Broadway season, but upon its closing after 320 performances, there will be no plays represented on Broadway until the Roundabout Theatre revival of Mrs. Warren’s Profession begins Sept. 3.

Race, which tests the dynamics of a law office when a crime is committed against a black woman, recouped its entire $2.5 million investment in late April. The original cast featured David Alan Grier, James Spader, Kerry Washington and Richard Thomas. Grier, Spader and Washington departed the production in June. Thomas is the only original cast member to remain with the play.

Producers announced Aug. 11 that plans are underway to bring the work to London audiences, as well as individual regional theatres in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, in 2011.

Here is a look at Race’s final Broadway curtain call: > PHOTO GALLERY

Written by Momo in: Photos,Race,video |

The Amazing ‘Race’


Eddie Izzard is best known as a transvestite standup comic. He is also a film, television, and Tony-nominated dramatic actor. He’s a political activist for Britain’s Labour Party; within 10 years he expects to run for mayor of London. Also an endurance athlete, he recently completed 43 marathons in 51 days to benefit Sport Relief, a charity that benefits the poorest and most vulnerable populations in the U.K. and across the globe.

Currently he is performing on Broadway, replacing James Spader in David’s Mamet’s “Race,” and as Izzard sees it, all the pieces of his life inform one another, incongruous as they may seem. “In politics you have to pay attention to detail and be precise, and that’s especially useful for Mamet’s language,” Izzard says in his dressing room before a performance. “My own diction had gotten sloppy, which works for me in my standup act. But in politics you have to articulate, even overarticulate, and that’s also helpful for Mamet. The challenge in doing Mamet’s language is to get its rhythm and then the sense of what’s being said across to an audience.” The actor speaks a perfect American English in the role.

Izzard’s years as a standup comic have served him well too. “It teaches you to be in the moment, and that’s the key to all acting,” he says, adding that it gives you looseness and flexibility. Still, the comic may go for the easy laugh, and that’s a danger in a straight play. “Comedy has to serve the story and come out of the character, and if that’s not happening—even if it’s interesting—we can’t do it,” he says. As the conniving, amoral attorney in “Race,” he plays “a man who has lost his soul,” Izzard reflects. “He was an idealist who ended up poor and he didn’t like it. He’s run out of everything that gives a fuck. Yet he still wants to win and he’s always a showman.” “Race” explores the emotionally charged dynamics of three lawyers (two black, one white) defending a white man accused of raping an African-American woman.

One of the many elements that drew Izzard to “Race” was the chance to perform for a racially mixed crowd, which is rare on both sides of the Atlantic and, he says, virtually nonexistent at his standup performances. He was last on Broadway in the 2003 Roundabout production of “A Day in the Death of Joe Egg,” and the audience was overwhelmingly white and subscription-based, or what he dubs “conscription”-based.

Audience demographics aside, for Izzard the story and director take precedence over all considerations, including financial. “Money is secondary,” he says. “If cash comes first, you make stupid decisions.” Nevertheless, he has a fondness for film work in general and television work in particular. He loved doing the FX series “The Riches,” playing a con artist, because of the intensity of the process—specifically, shooting each 45-minute drama in seven days.

He is every bit the risk taker and consistently tries to overcome challenges and fears—the more daunting the better. He was terrified of flying and therefore learned to fly. He doesn’t like to read fiction, he is dyslexic, and he finds memorizing lines a stumbling block. Thus his goal is to perform in Shakespeare and do more Marlowe (he has already tackled Marlowe’s “Edward II”). His ideal roles are Iago and Richard III. “I think of myself as an actor-comedian,” Izzard says. “But I’m more experienced as a comedian.”

An Androgynous Transvestite

Born in Yemen—where his father was an accountant and his mother a nurse—Izzard grew up in Northern Ireland, Wales, and the south of England. His mother died when he was 6, and he and his elder brother were sent to boarding school, where he mastered the art of the stiff upper lip. He also fell in love with the world of Monty Python, its anarchy and wit. Izzard toyed with the idea of performing. Still, at Sheffield University he studied accounting and financial management. He excelled in these courses but dropped out of school after one year, determined to launch a career in comedy. Making ends meet wasn’t easy, though he refused to take a regular job. “I was a waiter for three weeks,” he says. “When one waiter asked me what my plans were and I said to act, he said, ‘Oh, no one gets to be an actor.’ I didn’t want to be around people like that. I felt I was going to do it or die. I burned my bridges.”

Izzard honed his comedy skills at the competitive Edinburgh Festival, where he appeared 12 times. “I did three years of sketch comedy, four years of street performing, and five years of standup,” he recalls. Performing solo on the streets was where he learned how to improvise, ad-lib, and make decisions on the hoof. Izzard’s free-associative standup comedy is not scripted. “I have an innate suspicion of the written word,” he says. “I write it all down in my head and then I workshop it endlessly.”

He did not incorporate his transvestitism into the performances until he started doing standup. He knew it was a risky move, but as a comic—unlike an actor playing a part—he was determined to be himself “turned full on,” he asserts. Still, his transvestitism has an almost androgynous flavor. His nails are painted and he sports makeup and jewelry, yet his voice, gait, and persona are masculine. He has defined himself as a “male lesbian, “male tomboy,” and “action transvestite.” It’s a “confusing sexuality,” he acknowledges, adding that his transvestitism might have gotten in the way of his landing certain dramatic roles. “But when I ran 43 marathons in 51 days, that’s more in the ‘boy’ area, and that’s got to figure somewhat in the producer’s mind. I’m obviously not just spending my time being camp. I’m not camp at all. I’ve pushed through barriers.”

He is hoping to do that in the political arena too, though he would not be the first elected official who has an “alternative sexuality,” he says. But his larger ambition is to help forge a truly cooperative universe where nationalistic boundaries have become blurred: “I want the world to be a giant melting pot like Manhattan.” It’s no accident that he has mastered French, German, and Russian and has, indeed, performed his shtick in all of those languages. Nonetheless, he is not prepared to say what the hallmark of his administration would be if elected. “If I knew that, I’d be running now,” he asserts.

Should his political career take off, he concedes, his acting would have to be put on a back burner. Many would disagree, suggesting politics takes performance art to a whole new level.

“Race” runs through Aug. 21 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, 243 W. 47th St., NYC. Tickets: (212) 239-6200 or


-Made his West End debut as the lead in David Mamet’s “Cryptogram,” and played Lenny Bruce in Peter Hall’s West End production of “Lenny”

-Appeared in “Secret Agent,” “The Avengers,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” “Ocean’s Thirteen,” and “Valkyrie”

-Has performed to sold-out crowds at Madison Square Garden in New York and the Wembley Stadium in London

-Is the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary “Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story”

Written by Momo in: Interview,Race |

New York4 Interviews Eddie

[thanks Jean!]

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Written by Momo in: Interview,Race,video |

On Ellis Island, a Kinship With the Huddled Masses


ON a breezy, clear summer morning, Eddie Izzard — the British actor, comedian, transvestite and aspiring politician — took a trip to Ellis Island. He’d wanted to go ever since he first set a stiletto-heeled foot in this country in the 1990s, but never got around to it.

“I would have absolutely been one of those people who got on the boat to the New World,” said the goateed Mr. Izzard, 48, who is starring on Broadway in David Mamet’s “Race,” and whose documentary about his life, “Believe,” was just nominated for an Emmy. “And if they didn’t let me in, I would have jumped overboard.”

This time, Mr. Izzard, who is spending the summer in New York during his Broadway stint, was determined to see the centerpiece of American immigration, which is why he was on a late-morning ferry, slathering sunblock on his neck and savoring the skyline. He had traded his girlie wear for black jeans, boots, blue blazer and sunglasses, and wore only a hint of foundation on his face. Not that he looked like he’d just stepped out of the Nebraska cornfields; still, for the moment anyway, he might have been just another tourist taking iPhone shots of the Statue of Liberty.

“Funny that France gave that to the United States,” he said, admiring the statue. “What did the U.S. give them in return?”

It was a good question. But then, most of Mr. Izzard’s observations are dead-on. That is a large part of his acclaim; he’s known for his political and historical humor, for his accents and mimicry, for leapfrogging from topic A to topic Q, for being, as John Cleese once anointed him, the “Lost Python.”

He is also known for his social conscience (he has raised more than $400,000 for a British charity) and his athleticism. He is a marathon runner and is contemplating triathlons (“Animals in the wild are lean, and I think we should be, too”).

He speaks and performs stand-up routines in German and French (he uses the A.T.M. in French “to keep my brain working) and is planning to learn Russian.

And his politics are passionate; earlier this year, Mr. Izzard, who is a Social Democrat, voraciously campaigned for the Labour Party across England, Scotland and Wales. He plans on running — “standing,” in British parlance — for mayor of London or a seat in Parliament “sometime around 2020, if not bang-on.”

Indeed, it’s hard to imagine a more engaged visitor on the 27.5-acre island; he wanted to see and do everything. “We’re here, we might as well,” he said, slipping a headset over his ears. “Look at that,” he said, reading a display. “Those in first class were allowed to walk right off the ship. Those in steerage were stopped. I never knew that.”

He wandered up the stairs and into the Great Hall, the soccer-field-size room where new immigrants waited for admittance into the country. Mr. Izzard, who was born in Yemen and raised in Northern Ireland and England, moved from exhibit to exhibit, taking in everything: a gurney (“in England we call that a trailer”), a buttonhook used to inspect eyes for infections like trachoma.

He glanced at a manifest of impossible-to-pronounce last names. “This would be a funny bit,” he said. He pantomimed an immigration officer holding a clipboard. “Here we are at Ellis Island. ‘What’s your name?’ ‘Smith.’ ‘What?’ ‘Smith.’ ‘Again?’ ‘Smith.’ ‘O.K.— Yacjgdaw.’ ‘You?’ ‘Jones.’ ‘What?’ ‘Jones.’ ‘Wazinskawnsky.’ It’s the reversal.”

Every so often a fan approached. “Aren’t you that bloke who did all those marathons?” “I love you in ‘The Riches’!” “ ‘Dress to Kill’ is my favorite!”

Mr. Izzard was polite, asking their names, where they were from, posing for pictures. Still, he seemed slightly hesitant, as if he were embarrassed by the attention — odd for a guy whose iPhone screen saver is a shot of himself in heavy makeup, a sparkly shirt and elbow-length black gloves.

When a reporter suggested his fans see him on Broadway, he demurred. “They only have a few days — go see a big musical like ‘Billy Elliot,’ ” he said. “If you have more time, see my show.”

After a while, he abandoned the audio tour — it was difficult to follow, the walkways weren’t well marked — and latched on to a group tour with Jesse Ponz, a park ranger. Mr. Ponz explained the history, pointing to the medical facilities where those who were refused admittance were kept, as he led his charges through the bowels of one building and into another. Mr. Izzard was rapt.

“Did people escape?” he asked, nodding toward New York Harbor.

“We’ve heard of that,” Mr. Ponz said. “But the current was pretty strong.”

“It’s like Alcatraz,” Mr. Izzard said. “People said you couldn’t swim, but now they have an Alcatraz triathlon.”

A woman piped up. Actually, she said, prisoners in Alcatraz were allowed to shower with hot water so they wouldn’t acclimate to the cold water.

“Did you hear that?” Mr. Izzard said later. He was almost glowing. “You never know what you’re going to learn. That group was exactly like the people who came over here. A mix of everybody.”

At the end of the tour, Mr. Izzard thanked Mr. Ponz, who, as it happened, is a great fan. He offered to take Mr. Izzard around privately, and Mr. Izzard happily accepted. As they wandered around the museum, the two men debated the merits of disco versus punk, the War of 1812, Winston Churchill (Mr. Izzard, who is dyslexic, is listening to a Max Hastings Churchill biography), capitalism and immigration.

“I don’t know what it’s like in the U.S., but immigrants in the U.K. do the jobs the citizens won’t do,” Mr. Izzard said.

Five hours later, Mr. Izzard was heading back to Manhattan, with a little less than 120 minutes to spare before he had to be on stage.

“I do find history fascinating, I find people fascinating, and I’m quite good at standing somewhere and taking out all the new stuff and imagining people coming in,” he said, looking at the city unfold before him. “And I would have been with them.”

Written by Momo in: Interview,Race |

Comic Relief: Eddie Izzard on Broadway


Eddie Izzard takes a break from stand-up (and high heels) and gets serious in Race.

The last time many of us saw Eddie Izzard, he was dressed to kill: in a cheongsam, or perhaps a bustier and leather mini, smudged eyeliner and deep berry lipstick, teetering about in spike-heeled dominatrix boots and riffing on such subjects as frumpy English queens and Christopher Walken (Izzard doing Walken doing Shakespeare is absurdly funny — and available on YouTube). Currently, however, he’s in legal-eagle mode, suited up as “warhorse” lawyer Jack Lawson, banging on about sex and lies in David Mamet’s hot-button Broadway play Race.

At first, it may look strange — seeing the self-described “British European,” cross-dressing comic on stage at the Barrymore Theatre pontificating about a red sequined dress which may or may not have been ripped off by his alleged rapist client (Richard Thomas) — as opposed to, you know, wearing a red sequined dress. But Izzard has always been drawn to weighty stage roles — the dad of a brain-damaged daughter in Broadway’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (2003), troubled ’60s comic Lenny Bruce in the West End revival of Lenny (1999)…dating all the way back to 1994, when he played a creepy gay enigma in the world premiere of Mamet’s The Cryptogram. (On picking Mamet for his first professional stage production: “Well, I’m a transvestite who runs marathons, so I haven’t been known to be a shrinking violet.”)

“I’m looking for drama that’s going to stretch me. It can have comedy in it, but it has to be dry or weird or twisted,” he explains. “And I’m not all about theatre.” Indeed: His respectable list of screen credits includes Ocean’s Twelve and “Thirteen,” “Across the Universe” and “Valkyrie;” and in 2007–08, he starred in the FX original series “The Riches.” “Drama and film and television,” he ticks off, then adding — lest we forget — “and then I do stand-up around the world as well.” Right, and in 2009 he ran 43 marathons in 51 days across the U.K. to raise funds for Sport Relief.

“I seem to have the ability to apply myself to wherever I feel I want to go,” he says. “I seem to have gotten quite good at stand-up.” Selling out Madison Square Garden in January would seem to prove that. “And I couldn’t do stand-up to save my life when I started. It was a year and a half between the first two gigs. My drama ability started off and it wasn’t terribly good; I’ve developed that.” See: a 2003 Tony nomination.

His next challenge? Politics. “I’m standing for election in ten years’ time in the U.K.,” reveals Izzard, who recently finished a 25-city campaign on behalf of the Labour Party. “Socially progressive people make the world move forward.”

And of his ten-year plan, well, “I’m going to have to shoot the career in the head — or put it into deep hibernation,” he reasons.

“I have a fine wine approach — I get better over years,” says the 48-year-old actor. So by the time he’s, say, 80… “I should be on top of my game!”

Written by Momo in: Race |

Eddie Izzard on Broadway play about racism

[from the BBC]

Eddie Izzard explains what attracted to him to starring in a Broadway play about racism.

David Mamet decided to write the play, Race, after spending time in Iraq.

Izzard is appearing alongside Dennis Haysbert, who is making his Broadway debut after starring in the hit telvision show, 24.

They discussed the main themes of the new production.


Written by Momo in: Interview,Race |

Haysbert Izzard tackle ‘Race’ on and off stage

[from yahoo news]

NEW YORK – Eddie Izzard finds it bizarre that no one has ever gone to war over eye color.

“It’s probably because you can’t actually see the eyes until you’re about here,” he says while gesturing with his hand next to his face. “So that would make it impractical.”

Izzard laughs, but is serious about what prompted the comment: the delicate topic of race. Now he gets to explore it eight times a week on Broadway in the appropriately titled David Mamet play, “Race.”

Dennis Haysbert, who played the President of the United States on “24,” makes his Broadway debut, replacing the Tony-nominated David Alan Grier as Henry Brown.

Izzard, no stranger to Mamet (he originated the role of Del in the 1994 London production of “The Cryptogram”), takes over the James Spader role of Jack Lawson. And Izzard admits to being a little intimidated following Spader.

“Race” concerns black and white law firm partners and their associate (played by Afton C. Williams, who replaced Kerry Washington) debate the merits of representing a wealthy white client accused of raping a young black woman. The play tackles the subject from various perspectives, including each attorney’s view on ethnicity, public perception and the media’s influence.

“I think David put his finger on the pulse of what race is in this country,” Haysbert said.

As a result, the audience response changes nightly. And that comes as no surprise to Haysbert. Perspective in the matter depends on where you come from, and that extends to the other side of the Atlantic where Izzard hails.

According to Haysbert, tension between blacks and whites in America comes mostly from slavery but takes on a different hue in England.

“It’s about nationality,” he says. “They have a lot of Pakistani; they have Indian and people from different countries.”

But Izzard doesn’t completely agree with the distinction.

“That is more where the hot button issue of racism comes from. But I still think it ends up in the same place,” Izzard said. “We got rid of slavery only 50 years before America did.”

Regardless of the cause and the sprawl of race-related issues around the world, Izzard thinks the problem may be narrowing. He cites the election of Barack Obama as America’s first African-American president as a step in the right direction.

But that’s not enough, says Izzard, who dreams of a world reminiscent to how the astronauts viewed Earth from space.

“They saw no frontiers or borders,” he says.

“If people come from another planet, they’ll say, ‘You’re all humans.’ And are we going to say, ‘Oh no. He’s a black man. He’s a white man. This man’s an Asian.’

“No,” he says. “It’s just all human.”

Written by Momo in: Interview,Race |


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