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VIDEO: Last Week To Catch Mint Theater's Historic Production of WOMEN WITHOUT MEN


For over twenty-three years the Mint Theater Company has been surprising New Yorkers by presenting long-forgotten plays of the 20th Century, many of them very popular in their time, and mounting them as lively and entertaining contributions to present-day theatre. Under Producing Artistic Director Jonathan Bank, the Mint's dedication to producing works by women playwrights of the past is unmatched among the city's theatre companies..

Their first production in their new home, New York City Center Stage II (131 West 55th Street), is an acclaimed American premiere of Irish playwright Hazel Ellis' 1938 offering, WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, which explores the clash of conflicting natures and petty competitions that erupt among the cloistered teaching staff of an all-girls boarding school.

Jenn Thompson (Abundance, The Late Christopher Bean, The Eccentricities of A Nightingale) directs an all-female cast that includes Mary Bacon, Joyce Cohen, Shannon Harrington, Kate Middleton, Aedin Moloney, Alexa Shae Niziak, Kellie Overbey, Dee Pelletier, Beatrice Tulchin, Emily Walton, and Amelia White. WOMEN WITHOUT MEN is also designed by women: Vicki R. Davis provides scenic design; Martha Halley, costume design; Traci Klainer Polimeni, lighting design and Jane Shaw, sound design.

The production, which opened to critical raves in February, concludes its run this Saturday, March 26th.

A workplace drama laced with biting humor, Hazel Ellis' WOMEN WITHOUT MEN is set in the teacher's lounge of a private girls boarding school in Ireland in the 1930's. Jean Wade is an enthusiastic young teacher new to the school, where she soon finds herself popular with the students and at odds with her quarrelsome colleagues-especially the antagonistic Miss Connor. When Miss Connor's life's work-a history of "beautiful acts" through the ages-is found torn to shreds, Jean is the most likely suspect. With the evidence mounting against her and animosity in the air, will Jean fight for her career, or will she be beaten by the pettiness and jealousy that thrives in the school's cloistered environment?

Hazel Ellis began her theatrical career in the 1930s as a member of the acting ensemble of the Gate Theatre in Dublin. Her first play as author-a study of Lord Byron titled Portrait in Marble-opened at the Gate in 1936. Reviewing that production, The Irish Times noted, "Dublin is able to welcome a good play by a new Irish author-a sufficiently rare occurrence, and one which suggests that Irish drama is about to take a turn for the better." Her only other play, WOMEN WITHOUT MEN, was produced only once in 1938 at the Gate Theatre. "Here is a very young author and this is her second play, yet she had the wisdom to give us one of the finest pieces of true realism we have seen in Dublin," wrote The Irish Tatler and Sketch. The Evening Herald echoed the praise: "Clever characterization, witty dialogue and a serious vein go to make WOMEN WITHOUT MEN one of the outstanding successes of the present season." Despite acclaim, the play has never been published or revived.

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From This Author Michael Dale