If you want to see this play, you will have to go without being told anything about it beforehand.
But that’s OK. The actor doing the show hasn’t read the script either.
Those are the unusual parameters set for “White Rabbit Red Rabbit,” an unusual piece of theater presented by Amphibian Stage Productions at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on Wednesday and Thursday, and at Amphibian on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The play was written by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour, who was moved to write it after being barred from leaving Iran because he refused mandatory military service. (He has said he wrote a play that could travel without him.) It has been performed more than 1,000 times around the world, and among those taking on the challenge have been Nathan Lane, Whoopi Goldberg, John Hurt, Martin Short, George Takei, Brian Dennehy and Andrea Martin.
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Exactly what those well-known actors did is not generally known. We only know that the show has no director or set. At the performance, the actor takes the stage and is handed an envelope containing the script. Once the show is done, the actor is not allowed to do it again.
It sounds nerve-wracking, and it must be. Even before the show is performed in Fort Worth, it caused a husband and wife team of performers to separate.
“I have already requested a separate room,” says Sarah Clarke, one of the five actors performing locally, and the wife of Xander Berkeley. That is because Berkeley will be performing Wednesday, and Clarke, who will be handed the envelope on Thursday, cannot see, or even discuss, his performance with him.
“I have already said, ‘I don’t think I can be around you the night after you perform,’ ” says Clarke who, like her husband, acts in film and television and is based in Los Angeles.
But while the couple may have to undergo a one-night separation in order to avoid spilling the beans about the script, they do share an enthusiasm for the project, which is being overseen by consulting producer Tom Huckabee.
“As artists, we are always looking for things that challenge us and push us to limits we haven’t imagined,” says Clarke, who met Berkeley on the set of the television series “24,” when they were both working on the show. “And [this play] will exercise everything about being a performer that is exciting.”
Her husband says he is looking forward to taking on something that he sees as being in his wheelhouse.
“I have done a lot of improvisation in my life, and I have done a lot of readings, so I feel I have the requisite skills,” says Berkeley, who has recently been seen in the hit AMC series “The Walking Dead.” “I’m curious about what the structure is. I want to know what allows it to be both read and improvised. I’m fascinated to know what he has put together here.”
Clarke’s credits included a couple of the “Twilight” films and recent appearances on the “NCIS” television series. Berkeley’s first job was in the 1981 film “Mommie Dearest,” and he has been on some set somewhere almost every day since.
“I did two episodes of ‘The A-Team’ at the nadir of my career,” laughs Berkeley.
But while his name has seldom been at the top of the marquee, Berkeley has seldom had a day off.
“I was around famous people, and that was not the life I wanted. I have made a real deliberate aim of, oddly, taking smaller roles in order to work with big directors on big movies,” Berkeley says. “My goal has always been to be established enough so that people know you are reliably good, and get known in the business — but not necessarily as a marketable commodity.
“That means you don’t get the big roles and the big money, but you get to work consistently.”
And even “The A-Team” experience had a silver lining.
“On my second appearance, Mr. T asked me, ‘Didn’t I tie you up about five or six episodes ago?,’ ” says Berkeley. The bling-loving star of that show was initially upset, because he felt no one should be able to escape a Mr. T tie-down.
Berkeley had to admit that, indeed, Mr. T had dealt with him before. But Berkeley added that he had actually escaped from another character.
“Then I became pals with him,” he says. “I became his little mascot. We hung around together on the set.”
White Rabbit Red Rabbit
- Wednesday and Thursday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
- Friday-Sunday at Amphibian Stage Productions, Fort Worth
- 817-923-3012; www.amphibianstage.com