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Elizabeth McGovern Joins Geffen Playhouse 2022/2023 Season

LOS ANGELES (August 9, 2022) – Ava: The Secret Conversations will join the Geffen Playhouse 2022/2023 season lineup to complete the full season, it was announced today. Written by and starring Elizabeth McGovern (Downton Abbey, The Chaperone), Ava: The Secret Conversations will make its U.S. premiere in Geffen Playhouse’s Gil Cates Theater. The play had its world premiere in London in January 2022. The Geffen Playhouse production will be directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel (Bernhardt/Hamlet, Present Laughter).

Ava: The Secret Conversations will begin previews on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, and opening night is Thursday, April 13, 2023.

“I either write the book or sell the jewels. I’m kinda sentimental about the jewels.” So says legendary Hollywood icon Ava Gardner (Elizabeth McGovern, Once Upon a Time in America, Downton Abbey) to her ghost writer Peter Evans as they begin work on her tell-all biography that will shock Tinseltown. But as Peter attempts to glean the juicy details about her life story, her marriages to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra, and her turbulent relationship to Howard Hughes, an altogether different and unexpected journey unfolds in this theatrical glimpse into the private life of Hollywood's original femme fatale.

City National Bank is the Presenting Sponsor of Ava: The Secret Conversations.




Elizabeth McGovern’s career spans theatre, film, television, and music. She currently stars as Lady Cora in the feature film adaptation of Downton Abbey, a role for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe and a Primetime Emmy and won a SAG Award. Elizabeth recently adapted and starred as Ava Gardner in the play Ava: The Secret Conversations. Prior to that, Elizabeth produced her first feature, The Chaperone, which she also starred in. Previous credits also include Ragtime, for which she received an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination. Elizabeth has performed in the theatre in America and the U.K., winning the 2013 Will Award from the Shakespeare Theatre Company. Other notable productions include Alexi Kaye Campbell’s Sunset at the Villa Thalia, Lindsay Posner’s revival of God of Carnage in Bath, The Misanthrope at the Young Vic, Three Days of Rain at Donmar Warehouse, and David Mamet’s The Shawl at the Arcola Theatre. 2017 saw her return to Broadway in J. B. Priestley’s Time and the Conways. In 2019, Elizabeth was seen on the stage in the West End Premiere of The Starry Messenger. She also starred in War of the Worlds with Gabriel Byrne, which aired on Epix in the US.



Moritz von Stuelpnagel is a New York based director. His Broadway credits include: Theresa Rebeck’s Bernhardt/Hamlet starring Janet McTeer (two Tony nominations); Noël Coward’s Present Laughter starring Kevin Kline (three Tony nominations including Best Revival of a Play); Robert Askins’ Hand to God (five Tony nominations including Best New Play and Best Director). West End: Theresa Rebeck’s Mad House (currently at Ambassadors Theatre), Hand to God (Olivier nomination). Off-Broadway credits include: Theresa Rebeck’s Seared (MCC Theater), Larissa FastHorse’s The Thanksgiving Play (Playwrights Horizons), Mike Lew’s Teenage Dick (Ma-Yi Theater Company/The Public Theater), Nick Jones’ Important Hats of the Twentieth Century (Manhattan Theatre Club), Nick Jones’ Verité (Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3), Mike Lew’s Bike America (Ma-Yi Theater Company), Nick Jones’ Trevor (Lesser America), Robert Askins’ Love Song of the Albanian Sous Chef (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Mel & El: Show and Tell (Ars Nova), Michael Mitnick’s Spacebar: A Broadway Play by Kyle Sugarman (Studio 42), and Adam Szymkowicz’s My Base and Scurvy Heart (Studio 42). Regionally, he has directed productions at Alliance Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Pasadena Playhouse, and more. Moritz is the former artistic director of Studio 42, NYC’s producer of “unproducible” plays. www.moritzvs.com


Apr 4 – May 7, 2023

Written by Elizabeth McGovern
Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel
Based on the Book The Secret Conversations by Peter Evans & Ava Gardner
Produced in Association with Karl Sydow
Produced with the Support of the Ava Gardner Trust
Starring Elizabeth McGovern
Additional casting to be announced.

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