Teller working on stage production of The Exorcist

Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) is working on a stage adaptation of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist. Teller's got an eclectic, less-well-known scholarly/serious bent, having contributed to peer-reviewed work on the neuroscience of magic as well as directing an acclaimed performance of Macbeth. From the early notes, it sounds like this adaptation will play off Teller's advocacy for atheism.

Unlike William Friedkin’s film of The Exorcist (which isn’t anywhere near the best film of all time, just for the record), this play will “focus on the psychological aspects and questions of faith.” At least, that’s according to Ken Novice, the MD of New York’s Geffen Playhouse, where the play will premiere in July 2012. I can see that the film is at least supposed to focus on those same things, and when it works, it’s because it does...

Re the above quotation, Chelsea writes, "I'm the communications coordinator at the Geffen Playhouse, and while I appreciate your recent post on our upcoming production of The Exorcist, there are a few factual errors. First, the Geffen Playhouse is in Los Angeles. Second, Teller is helping out with some of the special effects for the play, but he is not one of the producers nor is he 'bringing the play to the stage.' The Geffen Playhouse is producing the show, John Doyle is directing the show and John Pielmeier is writing the show."

(via The Mary Sue)


  1. Quatermass and the Pit was the best film I know that explored those issues, along with some nice science fiction. I always saw the Exorcist as a story trying to make mysticism and magic relevant to today. The questioning was the subtext that just gave it depth. I wonder how it will work turned upside down.

    But I’m betting Teller will line up some spectacular pea soup! Go Teller!

      1. If you didn’t get the joke in “Teller should just shut the hell up!” then I take it you’ve never seen his act.

        1. Actually, Teller DOES speak during their stage show.

          The gimmick is that you never SEE him speak.

          If they still do the “Mofo, the psychic gorilla” piece, the voice you hear, “Thank you. I am Mofo, the psychic gorilla” is Teller, offstage.

          In the recent Penn & Teller U.K. TV series, “Fool Us”, Teller actually speaks on stage! With his back turned to the audience, so that you still don’t see him speak.

  2. I’ve never seen nor heard anyone state that The Exorcist was the best film of all time. Some say the scariest, but never the best overall film. Sadly, the quotable obscenities and the effects laden climax greatly overshadow what I find to be the most haunting and lingering aspects of the movie. That is, the oppressive atmosphere of helplessness and regret that pervades the movie. Damien Karras’ inability to take care of his ailing mother and his questioning of his faith as a result (and the mirroring of those themes between Chris MacNeil and her daughter Regan) stayed with me long after the images of pea soup and levitation faded. It’s a shame that most people ignore the bulk of the movie to get to the sensationalism at the end. It’s sad that it’s become a party movie.

  3. No, the Exorcist is not the best movie ever made.  The amount of times that Ellen Burstyn says “For Christ’s sake,” makes me cringe.  But for sheer impact, it was a doozie.  I would be very interested in seeing this stage production.

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