Acclaimed filmmaker John Hancock returns to the theatre with production of a spy thriller drama


Hollywood film and TV director John Hancock has returned to his theatre roots. “The Brother,” the play he wrote and directed, previews Aug. 23 at the Theatre Building Chicago.

The untold story of the infamous spies of the ?50s, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, is based on the book by New York Times editor Sam Roberts.

The Hancock Productions’ drama follows the espionage trial that led to the execution of the Rosenbergs, and focuses on Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, David Greenglass, the spy ring’s man inside Los Alamos, where the U.S. was developing the atomic bomb.

Starring as Greenglass is Robert Breuler, a 20-year member of Steppenwolf and winner of a Joe Jefferson Award.

Hancock, a Harvard graduate, studied theater in Europe on a grant from Harvard. He directed plays for 15 years, winning numerous awards, until he became a movie director in 1970.

His most famous film, considered the best sports film ever made, is the 1973 “Bang the Drum Slowly,” starring Robert De Niro and Michael Moriarty.

Some of the features that followed were “California Dreaming,” “Baby Blue Marine,” “Weeds,” and “Prancer,” which he shot on his family fruit farm in 1993.

Interspersed throughout the Hollywood years were numerous TV episodes for top rated prime time shows like “Hill St. Blues,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Lady Blue,” a TV series filmed in Chicago.

Hancock lived in Los Angeles from 1974 to 1993. “I was determined to like it,” he once told an interviewer, “and I succeeded for about six months. Our Malibu house was burned up in a big brush fire in 1993 and we moved to Indiana.”