Theatre Artists Studio to Present MRS. KLEIN, 10/25-11/10
It's not often that a fictional account of an historical figure is so riveting that you feel as if you're right there in the action, even though it takes place in the distant past. But Nicholas Wright's Mrs. Klein does just that, and brings back to life a woman who has been called the most influential female psychologist in history, and probably the least well known.
Melanie Klein was born of Jewish parentage in Vienna in 1882, with an early ambition to attend medical school. While she briefly attended Vienna University, marriage at age 19 and the births of three children over a 10-year period interrupted those plans. The family travelled frequently but settled in Budapest during World War I, where she first sought psychoanalysis for herself. She then entered the profession and began analyzing children, with her oldest son and daughter allegedly being two of the first children she analyzed.
She moved to Berlin in 1921, where her ideas did not receive much support. Nevertheless, the technique known as "play therapy" came out of her work, which is still used extensively psychotherapy today. Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna, disputed that children could be psychoanalyzed, and this dispute led to considerable controversy, with many of Mrs. Klein's colleagues taking sides in the debate. Her own daughter, Melitta, publicly opposed her mother's theories, and Anna Freud openly criticized both Klein's theories and her lack of a formal academic degree. British psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, however, was impressed by her innovative work and invited her to come to London in 1926, where she worked until her death in 1960.
The action of the play occurs during her time in Berlin, where she encounters personal grief at the death of her son amidst a building tide of criticism of her work. Enter Paula, a young analyst who desperately wants to both study with and be analyzed by Mrs. Klein, and Melitta, whose ambivalent feelings for her mother have shaped every aspect of her life.
An extremely complex and multi-faceted character, the role of Mrs. Klein has been played by many notable actresses, among them the famed actress and coach, Uta Hagen. Barbara Acker tackles the task for The Studio, with her academic background and theatrical experience making her well suited for the role. Dr. Acker has a Ph.D. in Theatre from Wayne State University and has taught acting and voice in universities including Miami University in Ohio and Arizona State University, from which she recently retired and is now Professor Emeritus. "Taking on this role is daunting. It's like climbing a huge mountain," says Acker. "Her drive, determination, and fierce intelligence were blessings when she delved into the 'primitive jungle' of the mind. But her single-mindedness blinded her to the pain she caused her own children."
The analytic trio is completed by Amanda Noel Trombley as Paula and Molly Robinson as Melitta. The show is directed by Robyn Allen, Artistic Director of Theater Works in Peoria.
Theatre Artists Studio presents Mrs. Klein from October 25 through November 10 at The Studio, 4848 E. Cactus Rd, #406, in Scottsdale. Show times are Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets are $20 for General Admission, $10 for Students 25 & Under and $15 for Groups of 10 or More, Seniors 65 and Over and Members of the Military. For tickets, call the box office at 602-765-0120 or visit: www.thestudiophx.org.