Joan Didion and Vanessa Redgrave are teaming up again.
Seven years after Redgrave starred in the one-woman Broadway adaptation of Didion’s National Book Award winning memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, the duo are reuniting for a staged reading of Blue Nights. Taking place on November 17 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, this one-night-only event will benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and Cathedral Community Cares.
The Year of Magical Thinking chronicled the year following the death of Didion’s husband, John Gregory Dunne, who died unexpectedly of cardiac arrest in 2003. Blue Nights, her highly anticipated follow-up memoir, focused on her daughter, Quintana Roo, who tragically died right before The Year of Magical Thinking was published–and just two years after the passing of her husband. Written with Didion’s trademark gorgeous sentence structure and heart-wrenching honesty, the book took its readers on an evocative journey through grief, aging, memory, parenting, and finding purpose in a world where it seems there’s none left.
“I hadn’t dealt with Quintana,” Didion told the Los Angeles Times during a 2011 interview about why she wrote Blue Nights. “I had dealt with her to some extent in the play … but the play [was] a … way of preserving myself at a distance. Because as I say in the book, watching that play on 45th Street at night was one moment during the day when Quintana did not necessarily die.”
Redgrave, who won a Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a Tony for The Year of Magical Thinking, shares the unimaginable experience of losing a child with Didion. In 2009, her daughter, Natasha Richardson, died in a calamitous accident.
According to press materials, “the actress, the author and the venue have long shared an extraordinary affinity: Richardson’s first marriage took place in Didion’s home; and The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is where Quintana was married, and where Quintana and John Gregory Dunne are inurned.”
During the 8PM reading of Blue Nights, Redgrave will be joined by guest artist Jimmy Owens, 2012 NEA Jazz Master and leader of Jimmy Owens Plus, on the trumpet-flugelhorn. With all of these elements combined, Blue Nights sounds like an evening that’ll be as unforgettable as it will be poignant.
Tickets for Blue Nights range from $40-$175 and can be purchased at stjohndivine.org or by calling 212.316.7449.
PS Don’t forget to visit PopBytes for our full review after the event.