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Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars

Set in Berlin and inspired by a true story, Argyle Road Productions presents the world premiere of a romantic drama by Tania Wisbar that explores the intersection of politics and art during the years between the Treaty of Versailles and the rise of Fascism. The Red Dress opens as avisiting production at the Odyssey Theatre on Oct. 28 where it runs through Nov. 19.

Wisbar's fictionalized account of her parents' marriage and their forced divorce by the Nazis begins in 1924 Berlin. Alexandra Schiele (Laura Liguori) is a famous film actress from a prominent Jewish family who falls in love with a down-on-his-luck World War I vet, Franz Weitrek (J.B. Waterman). Franz is able to parlay his wife's connections into work as a film director. But when his career takes off making Nazi propaganda films, his wife suddenly becomes a liability. Also in the cast are Rebecca Larsen, Shanti Reinhardt and Dylan Wittrock. Kiff Scholl directs.

Although in real life Wisbar's mother was not an actress, she was from a well-connected Jewish family that was able to get her father, Frank Wisbar, his start in the German film business. Later, when Frank emigrated to the U.S., he became the producer/director of the first filmed series made for television, Fireside Theater. Tania, who was born in Berlin, came to the U.S. as a baby after her parents divorced. She first learned about her family history decades later.

"In 1999, I discovered an 88-page manuscript my mother wrote as part of a contest for Harvard University," she explains. "It detailed the continuous harassment she and my father received at the hands of the Gestapo. It was my first and only view of what their marriage was and who they were as a couple in that horrible time."

After her parents were divorced, Wisbar's mother was brought to the U.S. by the Quakers. Wisbar didn't learn of her Jewish heritage until she was in her twenties. "It's a huge loss when you grow up without any community," she says.

In addition to the enormous social and political changes that took place in Germany between 1924 and 1936, those years bridged the history of film - from silents, to black and white, to color. The Red Dress also touches on the Eugenics Movement, which originated in the U.S. but was perfected by the Nazi regime.

The creative team includes composer Karen Martin, set designer Pete Hickock, lighting designer Kelley Finn, projections designer Nick Santiago, sound designerDave B. Marling, costume designer Shon LeBlanc and casting director Ferne Cassel. The production stage manager is Danny Crisp, and Victoria Watson and Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produce for Argyle Road Productions.

Tania Wisbar's novel, "Last Cemetery in Berlin," was optioned for film by producer Jonathan Sanger. In 2011, Sanger directed a critically acclaimed production of her play Birthday Present 2050, which starred Salome Jens. The LA Weekly called it "beautifully detailed and elegiac... GO!" Tania is the founding president and CEO of B.E.L.I., a day program for developmentally disabled adults with a large dance troupe that performs throughout Los Angeles. For 14 years she was the editor and reporter of a weekly newspaper in Imperial Beach, CA. She holds degrees in Theater Arts, Speech Pathology and Special Education.

Performances of The Red Dress take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., Oct. 28 through Nov. 19.There will be two preview performances on Thursday, Oct. 26 and Friday, Oct. 27, both at 8 p.m. All tickets are $30 (reserved seating) except previews, which are $20. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, (323) 960-5521 or go to www.Plays411.com/reddress

Photo Credit: Ed Krieger

high res photos

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori and Dylan Wittrock

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori, Rebecca Larsen, J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori, Rebecca Larsen, J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Rebecca Larson, Shanti Reinhardt, J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori and J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori and J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori and J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori and Dylan Wittrock

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Laura Liguori and J.B. Waterman

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Eva Kroy Wisbar Photo courtesy the Wisbar Estate

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Frank Wisbar on the set of “Night Fell Over Gotenhafen,� made in Germany after WWII Photo courtesy the Wisbar Estate

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Frank Wisbar with Tania in Berlin Photo courtesy the Wisbar Estate

Photo Flash: THE RED DRESS Explores the True Story of Life of One Family Between Two Wars
Tania Wisbar (Playwright), Berlin Photo courtesy the Wisbar Estate

 



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