the witty and heart-warming drama
VISITING MR. GREEN
by Jeff Baron
The production you are about to see at Vienna’s English Theatre represents a coming together for me. Rex Garner, Aaron Serotsky and Vienna have all been significant for me in the life of this play.
Visiting Mr. Green was my first play. It’s a play based on my life and some of my relatives, and I hoped it would get produced sometime, somewhere. It opened in New York in 1997 and ran for a full year. This was better than I ever expected. I had no idea that this was just the beginning.
The first major production of Visiting Mr. Green after New York took place in South Africa, and starred Rex Garner. I wasn’t able to make it there, which I really regretted when I read the reviews. In Rex’s production, my play was appreciated by all of the critics in such a profound way, even more than in New York, really. I knew his acting and direction had to be extraordinary.
Not long afterward, Theater in der Josefstadt, a few blocks from where you’re sitting now, presented Besuch bei Mr. Green, the German-language version of my play. I was invited for the premiere, and was thrilled to be in beautiful Vienna for the first time, and I was quite impressed with the production. Besuch bei Mr. Green is somewhat different from Visiting Mr. Green. An earlier draft of the play was translated into German, and even though the characters and the situation are the same, it unfolds in a slightly different way.
The play ran three seasons at Josefstadt, and I was honored to return to Vienna to accept the Kulturpreis Europa 2001. This is an award given every year for contributions to European culture, in this case for promoting tolerance. Previous winners included the mayor of Barcelona and the German ambassador to Israel. This was the first time an individual artist and a theatre were honored.
Last year I had the privilege of seeing Aaron Serotsky perform in Visiting Mr. Green at the Denver Center Theatre. Aaron did such a wonderful job playing Ross Gardiner, really one of the best in the world (of the 40 or so that I’ve seen), and I was very happy to recommend him for this production.
I hope I’ll get the chance to see what you’re about to see. In any case, I’m confident that you’re in very good hands, and I’m thrilled to have my work seen again in Vienna, this time in the language in which I write.