Shia LaBeouf will make his stage debut in the world premiere of “Henry Johnson,” a new play from David Mamet. The production will be mounted at the Electric Lodge venue in Venice, Calif. and will be directed by “The L Word: Generation Q” showrunner Marja-Lewis Ryanalso. The cast will feature Oscar nominee David Paymer, as well as Dominic Hoffman and Evan Jongkeit. According to an official description, the show “follows the plight of a man after an act of compassion upends his life.”
It may be a controversial night of theater. LaBeouf’s acting career in Hollywood has been overshadowed by assault and sexual battery allegations that were leveled against him by musician FKA Twigs, his former romantic partner. She filed a lawsuit against LaBeouf in 2020, detailing multiple alleged incidents of physical abuse during the couple’s one-year relationship in 2018 and 2019. In February, a judge delayed the trial until fall of 2023, citing LaBeouf and Twigs’ busy work schedules. LaBeouf initially issued an apology after the allegations were made public, saying, “I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt.” His legal team, however, later denied Twigs’ claims.
LaBeouf has landed a few high-profile roles recently, appearing in Abel Ferrara’s “Padre Pio” and joining the cast of Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming $100 million epic feature “Megalopolis.” In a statement, LaBeouf said, “I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to work with David Mamet. His talent and creativity are unparalleled, and it is truly an honor to collaborate with arguably our greatest living playwright. ‘Henry Johnson’ is a unique and compelling story. It has not only inspired me but has also pushed me to grow as a performer.”
This isn’t LaBeouf’s first flirtation with the stage. In 2013, he was supposed to star opposite Alec Baldwin in the Broadway revival of “Orphans,” but the actors clashed and LaBeouf ultimately left the show citing “creative differences.” It became…a thing.
Mamet, a theatrical legend whose work includes “American Buffalo” and “Glengarry Glen Ross,” has recently attracted more attention for his rightwing political views. The playwright issued a statement about “Henry Johnson” that’s definitely different from the usual string of superlatives about his collaborators.
“Constantin Stanislavski wrote that any director who does something interesting with the text does not understand the text,” he said. “Most stage directors are only English teachers with a stage manager to bring them tea while they confuse the actors. God forgive them, and may God bless Ms. Ryan.”
The show is set to run from Sept. 1 to Sept. 24.
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