Mint Theater to Stage American Premiere of Hazel Ellis's WOMEN WITHOUT MEN
Mint Theater (Jonathan Bank, Producing Artistic Director; Jen Soloway, Managing Director) today announced that the next production, Women Without Men, will begin performances January 30th and continue through March 26th at New York City Center Stage II (131 West 55th Street). The play explores the clash of conflicting natures and petty competitions that erupt amongst the cloistered teaching staff of an all-girls boarding school.
Jenn Thompson (Abundance, The Late Christopher Bean, The Eccentricities of A Nightingale) will direct 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 will also be designed by women: Vicki R. Davis will provide scenic design; Martha Halley, costume design; Traci Klainer Polimeni, lighting design; and Jane Shaw, sound design.
A workplace drama laced with biting humor, Hazel Ellis's 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?
Mint's production of Women Without Men will be its first in 77 years-and its American Premiere. Notably, it will also continue Mint's concerted effort to produce the work of forgotten female dramatists. "Although the Mint Theater Company is justly lauded for its rehabilitation of forgotten works, I don't think Jonathan Bank's outfit gets enough credit for its unwavering dedication to women writers," wrote Elizabeth Vincentelli of The New York Post in 2012. "For me, it's the plays written by women that have resonated the most. Maybe because the pay-off is sweeter: these women had descended into an obscurity even more pitch-black than that of the male writers produced by the Mint - if it's hard for female writers to make it to the stage, it's even harder for their works to be revived." In the past Mint Theater has produced plays by Cicely Hamilton, Susan Glaspell, Rachel Crothers, Githa Sowerby, Teresa Deevy, and others. Hazel Ellis now joins the list of extraordinary - but shamefully neglected - female playwrights.
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.
"The Mint does for forgotten drama what the Encores! series does for musicals, on far more modest means" (The New York Times). Mint was awarded an OBIE for "combining the excitement of discovery with the richness of tradition," and a special Drama Desk Award for "unearthing, presenting and preserving forgotten plays of merit." Ben Brantley in The New York Times Arts & Leisure hailed the Mint as the "resurrectionist extraordinaire of forgotten plays."
Performances will be Tuesday through Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM, with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 PM. Special added Wednesday Matinees January 24th and March 23rd at 2:30pm Tickets are $27.50 - $55 with Premium Seats ($65) available.
Tickets for Women Without Men are on sale NOW. You may purchase ticket online at nycitycenter.org, by calling 212/581-1212, or visit the NY City Center Box office located at 131 West 55th Street (between 6th & 7th Avenues).