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Based on David Greig's play of the same name, The Architectis the story of two Chicago families in divergent economic circumstances whose fortunes and futures collide. The architect in question is Leo Waters (Anthony Lapaglia), who along with his depressed and stagnating wife (Isabella Rossellini) lives in an affluent home on the north side of Chicago. Their daughter Christina (Hayden Panettiere) is awkward in her newly developed body, chafing under the watchful eye of her father; and their son Martin (Sebastian Stan) has recently returned from college, confused by his sexuality and unsure of how to live up to his father's expectations. On the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum and the other side of Chicago, Tonya Neely (Viola Davis) lives in a drug- and crime-infested project. Preoccupied with keeping her family safe in a startlingly dangerous neighborhood, Tonya sees no choice other than radically altering her family's and her neighborhood's situation. An activist who wants nothing more than to better the lives of those around her, she determines that the housing project needs to be torn down. To accomplish this, she begs for the help of the man who built the project-Leo Waters. Over the course of a few days these two families forever change the course of each other's lives in this powerful and sophisticated urban drama.
Director's Statement Collapse
I first encountered David Greig's play The Architect at Scotland's Traverse Theatre. I'd directed a production of Joe Pintauro's American Divine that had played in Chicago and was invited to the Traverse to play in rotating rep with other international selections during the 1997 Edinburgh Theatre Festival. The Architect, set in working-class Glasgow, was a Scottish writer's take on the great kitchen-sink dramas of Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill; a protagonist-driven tragedy that plays out against the backdrop of a sociopolitical drama or metaphor. Our show American Divine was a sprawling, multicharacter mosaic of loss, grief, hope, and our relationship with God as we approached the millennium. It was distinctly American and became somewhat of a lightning rod for discussion and comparison to its international counterparts. I mention this because there was something about seeing The Architect under the specter of this conversation that encouraged me to reimagine it as an American story. And I think there was something about having recently developed American Divine that inspired me to rewrite it as a more expansive ensemble piece that searched for the zeitgeist that existed between two classes of people in economically disparate Chicago. While I was first adapting the script, I was working in the stressed Chicago public school system and at its juvenile detention center. It was there, and with the kids that I was fortunate to work with, that I became intimate with the well-documented failure of Chicago's public housing effort. And as I became more involved in the lives of the kids in our program, and their families, the dimension and character of The Architect came into focus for me. Later, in the development process, I had the great fortune to participate in the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Lab. The experience helped shape and refine the storytelling tremendously. The advisors at the Lab, all brilliant in their own right, each helped contribute to the film as it exists today. Perhaps most significantly, the Lab and Sundance Institute staff helped me to take ownership of the film, and inspired a rigorous pursuit of that initial creative impulse I had in Scotland. I hope you enjoy the film.
Film Information Collapse
[ARCHI] | 2006 | 82 | Narrative Feature
Foreign Title: (The Architect)
About the Director(s)Collapse
Award-winning stage director Matt Tauber is founder of Chicago's Kitchen Theatre Company. Tauber most recently produced Sly Dog Films' The Great New Wonderful, directed by Danny Leiner. A world premiere at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, The Great New Wonderful will open theatrically in New York City on June 23 through First Independent Pictures.