1908 Romantic Comedy DIANA OF DOBSON'S Gets Rare Revival at Antaeus
When poorly paid worker Diana inherits enough money to free her from a lifetime of drudgery, she impulsively decides to spend it all on a madcap, month-long taste of the high-life. But what she learns about love, money and society may surprise us all. Antaeus Theatre Company presents a rare revival of the 1908 romantic comedy Diana of Dobson's byBritish suffragist (and friend of George Bernard Shaw) Cicely Hamilton.Casey Stangl directs a partner-cast ensemble for an April 18 and April 19opening (one opening night for each cast) at theKiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale, where performances continue through June 3. Low-priced previews begin April 11.
An unexpected hit of the 1908 London season, Diana of Dobson's is a romantic fairy tale that's both illuminating and thought provoking. Hamilton turns the Cinderella myth on its head with the story of a fiercely intelligent Edwardian shop assistant who briefly escapes her hand-to-mouth existence with a small legacy - but who cannot escape the social and economic strictures that oppress her.
"The time for this play is very ripe," says Stangl. "London at the turn of the 20th century was an age of industry; you could hear the wheels of capitalism roll and grind. This is a play about the overworked and underpaid workers in the background who maintain the very separate world of privilege that surrounds them."
According to Antaeus co-artistic directors Bill Brochtrup and Kitty Swink, ""We love finding hidden gems - classic plays that seem unknown but cry out to be seen. Diana is a romantic comedy with a biting humor and a message about the one percent and the inequality of women and the underclass that is absolutely vital for our times."
Abigail Marks stars in the title role, as Diana Massingberd. In the Antaeus tradition known as "partner casting," John Bobek and Brian Tichnell alternate as the charming (but cash-strapped) aristocrat Captain Bretherton who pursues Diana - but is he attracted to her, or to her supposed wealth? Tony Amendola and John Apicella play Diana's other suitor, self-made businessman Sir Jabez Grinley, whose riches were made on the backs of low-wage earners. Also in the ensemble are Rhonda Aldrich and Eve Gordon, doubling as aristocratic Mrs. Cantalupe and nasty Dobson's overseer Miss Pringle; Erin Barnes andCindy Nguyen, Kendra Chell and Krystel Roche, Kristen Ariza and Desiree Mee Jung, and Shannon Lee Clair and Jazzlyn K. Luckett as Diana's fellow shop assistants at Dobson's Drapery Emporium: Kitty, Miss Morton, Miss Jay and Miss Smithers; Elyse Mirtoand Lynn Milgrim as Mrs. Whyte-Fraser and Old Lady; and Ben Atkinson and Paul Stanko as Police Constable Fellowes and a waiter.
The creative team includes scenic designer Nina Caussa, costume designer A Jeffrey Schoenberg, lighting designer Karyn D. Lawrence, sound designer Jeff Gardner, props designer Katie Iannitello and accent coach Nike Doukas. The production stage manager isHeather Gonzalez.
Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952) wrote several plays tackling social issues - but it was Diana of Dobson's that caught London's eye and heart with its light touch and romantic bent in spite of its consideration of "serious issues.'" First performed in London in 1908, the play was "accepted as a true picture of the shop-assistant's life," to quote from a 1908 press clipping that, "convinced people that something should be done about it." Hamilton was a member of the Women Writers' Suffrage League, a founding member of the Actress' Franchise League and, was one of the first members of the Scottish Women's Hospital Committee. During World War I she helped to establish an Auxiliary Hospital in France where she nursed wounded soldiers. She later joined the Women's Auxiliary Corps and was assigned to a postal unit. Eventually she formed a repertory company that performed plays for Allied soldiers on the Western Front. After the War, Hamilton worked as a freelance journalist and was a regular contributor to feminist journal Time and Tide. Hamilton's works include two propaganda plays, How the Vote was Won and A Pageant of Great Women, and her influential book Marriage as a Trade. Her autobiography, published in 1935, is entitled "Life Errant."
Antaeus is an actor-driven theater company that explores and produces timely and timeless works, grounded in our passion for the classics. We illuminate diverse human experiences through performance, training and outreach. We believe in the transformative power of live theater
The Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center complements Glendale's ongoing commitment to integrate vibrant arts space into the fabric of city life, ensuring the arts remain accessible to all. Located just a few blocks away from The Americana at Brand and the remodeled Glendale Central Library as well as the Alex Theatre, the center promises to build upon Glendale's growing reputation as an arts and entertainment destination. The center includes an 80-seat theater, a reconfigurable 36-seat performance/classroom space, and a theater classics library.
Performances of Diana of Dobson's begin on Thursday, April 18, with performances taking place thereafter on Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. andMondays at 8 p.m., through June 3 (dark Monday, April 22 and Saturday, May 18; there will be one additional Thursday evening performance on May 16 at 8 p.m.) Six preview performances take place April 11 through April 17. Tickets are $35, except preview tickets which are priced at $15.
The Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center is located at 110 East Broadway,Glendale, CA 91205 (between N. Brand Blvd. and Artsakh Ave.). The first 90 minutes of parking is free, then $2 per hour, in Glendale Marketplace garage located at 120 Artsakh Ave. (between Broadway and Harvard). The theater is air-conditioned and wheelchair accessible.
For reservations and information, call 818-506-1983 or go to www.antaeus.org.