Sharon Lawrence works with Kristof to tackle Vivien Leigh’s physicality, voice, and medical conditions

Sharon Lawrence as Vivian Leigh

The complex and multi-layered personality of Vivien Leigh was a challenge for actress Sharon Lawrence, who will be starring in “Orson’s Shadow”, a new play at the Pasadena Playhouse. Sharon came to Kristof to use the Alexander Technique to embody the physicality and the vocal requirements of the character, and express the many medical conditions of Vivien Leigh. Affected by bipolar disorder for most of her adult life, Leigh gained a reputation for being a difficult person to work with, and her career went through periods of decline. She was further weakened by recurrent bouts of tuberculosis, with which she was first diagnosed in the mid-1940s.

The Pasadena Playhouse describes the play as “An ingenious tale of two Hollywood giants – Orson Welles and Laurence Olivier. The time is 1960; the place is a London theatre. Legendary critic Kenneth Tynan has made a startling proposal: Welles should direct Olivier and the young Joan Plowright in Rhinoceros, Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece. But it is the rehearsal process that brims with absurdity as titanic personalities, including Vivien Leigh, wrestle the muse. Based on an actual event, Orson’s Shadow is a witty and incisive depiction of the drama of theatre”.

By Austin Pendleton
Conceived by Judith Auberjonois
Directed by new Associate Artistic Director, Dámaso Rodriguez
January 11 – February 17, 2008