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Quintessence Theatre Group Presents SHOUT INTO THE VOID: A Virtual Play Reading Festival

Five classic plays to be presented virtually October 12 - November 9.

Quintessence Theatre Group, Philadelphia's professional classic repertory theatre, is set to livestream Shout into the Void, a virtual play reading festival from October 12 - November 9, 2020. Scheduled to be presented during the run-up to this year's presidential election, each of these enduring classics explores power, politics, and prejudice in ways that enable penetrative contemporary insight and conversation.

The festival begins with Rutherford and Son by Githa Sowerby (streaming Monday October 12 at 7:00 p.m.). Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm (streaming Monday October 19 at 7:00 p.m.). follows. Week Three kicks off with Alice Childress' Wedding Band (streaming Monday October 26 at 7:00 p.m.). And week four brings Danton's Death by Georg Büchner (streaming Monday November 2 at 7:00 p.m.). The final reading on November 9 is yet to be announced.

Each recorded reading will be available through Friday of the week it is streamed, allowing audience members to choose when they watch, and all tickets will include interviews, articles, and other supplementary materials to enhance the viewing experience. Single tickets and discounted full festival passes are available, visit or call 215.987.4450 to purchase. The festival is a fundraiser for Quintessence Theatre Group, a 501c3 non-profit organization.

"Since Ancient Greece, the theatre has been an essential space for society to gather and debate the moral and ethical issues of the day. While our physical theatre remains closed due to COVID-19, we virtually gather a group of world class artists to reignite five classic plays which are as relevant and revolutionary today as when they were first performed," said Quintessence Artistic Director Alexander Burns.

The Shout into the Void festival begins with Githa Sowerby's Rutherford and Son. Written in 1912 during the British feminist movement, Rutherford and Son is a sharp critique of the patriarchal Northern England industrial system. Tyrannical capitalist John Rutherford runs his family and his glass factory with an iron fist. As winter sets in and the business begins to falter, Rutherford systematically alienates both his children and his workers. When the dust settles, there is only his daughter-in-law Mary left to save the business and break the cycle of abuse. Named one of the "100 plays of the century" by the Royal National Theatre, Githa Sowerby's seldom-produced classic is a powerful exploration of class and gender expectations in revolutionary times.

The festival continues with the 1886 Norwegian masterpiece Rosmersholm. It is the eve of a major election. The country is on the verge of upheaval over a battle between progress and tradition. The press will stop at nothing to influence the result. Challenged by friend and activist Rebecca West, John Rosmer is the last descendent of the Rosmer dynasty, and his family estate and private life become the epicenter of the national debate. A political thriller about love, privilege, and radicalism, Henrik Ibsen's Rosmersholm asks if our ideals and hopes for the future can escape our ghosts from the past.

Up next is the heart-wrenching and timely Wedding Band: A Love/Hate Story in Black and White. The play chronicles the romance of an interracial couple, Julia and Herman, living in Charleston, South Carolina during the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918. Though they remain devoted to one another for a decade, they cannot avoid the harsh and sometimes deadly scorn from their separate worlds. After Jim Crow segregation and a contentious presidential election forces the two out of their private oasis, the couple must question whether it's possible for a black woman and a white man to have an equal partnership in this moment, no matter how much they love each other. Fearless playwright, novelist, and actress Alice Childress asks questions about race, gender, and class division in this play with a level of honesty and compassion rare for her time.

This is followed by Danton's Death. It is 1794 and the French Revolution has reached its climax. The monarchy has fallen and as the reign of terror covers the country in blood, George Jacques Danton begins to doubt and question the violence he and his movement has unleashed. When Danton challenges Maximilien Robespierre, the fellow revolutionaries and former friends become bitter foes, one calling for comprise, the other for ideological purity. The fate of France hangs in the balance as the two young leaders debate over the soul of their nation, the guillotine the loser's reward. Written in just five weeks when the playwright was 22 years old, Georg Büchner created the "greatest political tragedy ever written" and its impact on the modern theatrical form is undebated.

The festival finale will be announced shortly.

Founded in 2009, award-winning Quintessence Theatre Group uses the classics to explore the fundamental question of what it is to be human in today's world. Through intimate, visceral, and innovative productions of epic theatre, Quintessence pursues its vision to become the Delaware Valley's center for progressive humanism and an engine for radical empathy through the classics.

Quintessence's home is the historic Sedgwick Theater, an Art Deco movie palace designed in 1928 by William Lee and located in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia.

Virtual tickets are available for each play for a contribution of $10. Festival passes, with virtual access to all five plays are available with a contribution of $30.

EDUCATIONAL PACKAGES: Special rates are available for teachers to purchase ticket packages for classes or other student groups. For information on educational group sales, please call 215.987.4450, Ext. 1, or email

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