Plans eyed for ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ onstage

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NEW YORK (AP) - Things are looking up for fans of the hard-to-love fictional Ignatius Reilly - finally.

A New Orleans-based theatrical production company has plans to turn the obnoxious, overweight and very funny protagonist of “A Confederacy of Dunces” into a stage hero.

Shelton Street Theatrical, LLC said Monday that it has asked playwright Jeffrey Hatcher to adapt the novel about the New Orleans-based Reilly, who lives with his mother, rails against the evils of the modern age and sells hot dogs from a cart in the French Quarter. “Driving Miss Daisy” director David Esbjornson has been picked as the director.

“A Confederacy of Dunces” won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for its author, John Kennedy Toole, and inspired panel discussions, articles in journals, blogs, dramatic readings, regional productions and several failed attempts to turn it into a movie.

Producers Bob Guza and John Hardy of Shelton Street Theatrical said the play will be worked on in a series of readings in New York, followed by developmental productions leading perhaps to Broadway. No cast has been revealed.

“This great novel has never broken through, on stage or on screen,” the producers said in a statement. “Now we’re aiming to finally launch Ignatius, although we prefer to say ‘unleash Ignatius!’”

The novel was written about 1962, featuring a slobby, sardonic layabout who has bouts of bloating and gas. Toole failed to get it published and killed himself in 1969 at 31. The book was finally published at the urging of prominent author Walker Percy, who had read the manuscript at the insistence of Toole’s mother.

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