The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts production opened Off-Broadway at the Mitzi Newhouse Theater, in previews on September 29, 2005 and closing on December 18, 2005. It was directed by Daniel J. Sullivan, a frequent artistic collaborator with Wasserstein. The cast of Third included Dianne Wiest as Laurie Jameson and Charles Durning. Jason Ritter, actor-son of John Ritter, played the part of Woodson Bull, III, the student accused of plagiarism. Ritter won the Clarence Derwent Award and the Martin E. Segal Award for his performance of the title character in this play. The sets were designed by Thomas Lynch, costumes by Jennifer von Mayrhauser, and lighting by Pat Collins.
The play takes place at a small New England college during one academic year. It focuses on the life of a female college professor at a prestigious liberal arts college, Laurie Jameson, and how her life and fundamental assumptions are challenged by an encounter with a student, Woodson Bull, III. The professor and student have strongly divergent personal and political characteristics. Because of these differences, the professor accuses the student of plagiarism when he turns in an assignment that seems beyond his ability to produce. The play grapples with the issues of stereotyping and identity politics, as well as generational and family issues.
The berkshirefinearts.com reviewer wrote: "Easily, it is among her wittiest, wisest, and perhaps most personal play...Set at an unnamed, elite, New England liberal arts college, this play's central character, Professor Laurie Jameson, could be considered one in the line of Wasserstein's "uncommon women" of middle age. Perhaps she is smugly more certain of her ideas than many of the playwright's other previous major female characters."
Awards and nominations
- Outstanding Lead Actress (nominee)
- Outstanding Featured Actor (Charles Durning) (win)
- Artois Award
- Off-Broadway Theatre Casting, Daniel Swee (win)