Audible Will Bring Back ‘Harry Clarke’ Off-Broadway

Posted February 14, 2018 5:45 p.m. EST

NEW YORK — Harry Clarke has made another conquest. David Cale’s “Harry Clarke,” a one-man show about a Midwestern boy who masquerades as a seductive Englishman, will return off-Broadway on March 7, at the Minetta Lane Theater, again starring Billy Crudup in what Jesse Green in The New York Times called “a sly role terrifically suited to his gifts.”

This time, the show has an unusual sponsor: Audible Inc.

Audible, the leading provider of audiobooks, is going visual, for 10 weeks anyway. Producing a limited run of “Harry Clarke” is the latest step in Audible’s recent investment in contemporary theater.

It follows the company’s announcement that it will transform both “Harry Clarke” and John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons,” which closes on Broadway on Feb. 25, into downloadable products. Audible has also commissioned 15 early career playwrights to create new audio dramas.

Donald Katz, Audible’s founder and chief executive, is a four-times-a-week theatergoer who was wowed by “Harry Clarke” at the Vineyard Theater, where it started previews in October and closed Dec. 17. “I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with a play that smart and that intense,” he said in a phone interview. “There’s stuff going on in that play that is just electrifying.”

Audible’s sponsorship gives audiences who missed the play in its Vineyard run a chance to see it. But it’s also a high-profile way for Audible to announce its commitment to live theater and the artists who make it. “It’s a way of getting into the world and associating ourselves with some of the best creative output,” he said.

“It’s a new venture,” he added. “We’re just going to see it become bigger and bigger.”

The company has always included plays among its offerings. “Look how many ‘Hamlets’ we have!” said Katz. (Eighteen, plus scattered scenes.) But these recent initiatives hope to both attract new ears to audio drama and to challenge playwrights and actors to explore what the downloadable form can be.

Audible declined to comment on how much money it has invested in “Harry Clarke.” But last year it established a $5 million fund to commission one-voice and two-voice plays by emerging playwrights, and on Monday it announced its first class of commissioned artists, including playwright Leah Nanako Winkler.

These writers will create downloadable plays, making use of “this private performance, this intimacy,” Katz said, but the performances won’t always stay private. “Some of them we will stage,” he promised.