THE CHILDREN'S HOUR, TRIFLES and More Set for EgoPo's 'American Giants II: The Women' Season

EgoPo announces their 2015-16 Festival Season, American Giants II: The Women celebrating four of the most influential female writers in the American Theater.

The season will include Lillian Hellman's renowned The Children's Hour, Clare Boothe Luce's comic masterpiece The Women, Sophie Treadwell's expressionistic Machinal, and Susan Glaspell's celebrated short, Trifles.

These iconic plays represent the very best in playwriting and provide a rare chance to honor the major contributions of female writers to the American stage.

American Giants II: The Women

EgoPo carries on their tradition of producing annual themed festival seasons. This year, they return to the pivotal 1930s, previously explored in last year's American Giants season, to examine the other half of the American Dream. This year, we will feature four of America's greatest female playwrights: Lillian Hellman, Clare Boothe Luce, Sophie Treadwell, and Susan Glaspell. The American Theater has long marginalized female writers, virtually leaving them out of the traditional canon. Over the course of the 2015-16 season, EgoPo will reconsider the canon and honor the legacy of these playwriting giants.

All four plays were written in the pre-war era, a time of social transitions. The traditional definitions of gender, identity, marriage are being challenged. It is an era in which the American dream itself is being re-defined, and women are helping to craft these new definitions.

EgoPo invites audiences to compare and contrast these two American Giants seasons: what different perspectives, aesthetics, or content do these writers bring to the table? These female playwrights, as much as their male counterparts, create dynamic female anti-heroes, and explore the comic or dark sides of humanity. In the end, they are simply great playwrights writing great plays.

The Children's Hour

EgoPo's season begins with Lillian Hellman's powerful tragedy, The Children's Hour, in which a child's accusation throws her headmistresses into a scandal, and exposes pervasive cultural biases and their devastating effects. When The Children's Hour opened on Broadway in 1934, any mention of homosexuality on stage was illegal in the state of New York, but the play was such a success and so widely praised by critics that the state law was never enforced. The play was, however, banned in Boston, Chicago, and London, making the power of the fictional child's accusations that much more potent.

EgoPo welcomes guest director Adrienne Mackey, the founder of Swim Pony Performing Arts, to bring this classic to new life. Mackey is a locally celebrated director who creates original and compelling theater using the power of the human voice and the forms of the human body. Her works include The Ballad of Joe Hill for the Live Arts Festival and The Master and Margarita for Mum Puppettheatre. She is a past winner of CEC's New Edge Residency and an Independence Arts Fellowship.

This production of The Children's Hour will fuse the intense psychological script with the dynamic physicality for which Mackey is known. This will be EgoPo's first production by a guest director since its relocation to Philadelphia in 2006 and the collaboration promises to result in a powerful revival of this classic.

Throughout her prolific career, Lillian Hellman was awarded several New York Drama Critics Awards and the New York Times called her "one of the most important playwrights of the American theater." For years, The Children's Hour, in its original form, was banned from Hollywood, until 1961 when it was finally adapted into a film starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.

EgoPo's first show of the season will feature new faces for the EgoPo ensemble including: Emilie Krause (New Paradise, the Arden, People's Light), Jenna Horton (Applied Mechanics, Bearded Ladies, Berserker Residents), and Maggie Johnson, a recent UArts graduate who will be debuting this year at both EgoPo and the Wilma after starring in The Cat in the Hat at the Arden this past season.

The Children's Hour will be staged at The Latvian Society. Previews begin October 7, with Press Opening on Friday, October 9; the show will run three weeks, closing on October 25.

The Women

American Giants II will continue with Clare Boothe Luce's comic masterpiece The Women, co-produced with Rowan University. This hilarious social critique of the pampered lives and power struggles of Manhattan socialites exposes the genuine emotions that lie concealed behind their artifice.

The Women ruffled many feathers during its Broadway run, as it opened up women's private lives on stage like never before, giving women bawdy power, language, and ferocity while critiquing the powerful elite. Overall, the public loved it and it became a hit, running for 657 performances, and later adapted for film in 1939 and 2008.

Directed by EgoPo's Artistic Director, Lane Savadove, The Women will examine the corrosive power of traditional marriage roles. Following the success of last year's partnership with Rowan University's College of Performing Arts, Savadove has put together an impressive ensemble of Philadelphia's finest actresses paired with promising student performers from Rowan. Savadove's production will celebrate the theatricality inherent in The Women while also exposing the emotional depth that lingers just below the surface of Luce's characters.

Clare Boothe Luce was, arguably, the most commercially successful female writer of the 20th Century with her work for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Life Magazine. Known for her courageous candor, she was the first women to be appointed as a US Ambassador.

The Women will feature many familiar EgoPo faces including Melanie Julian (GINT, Jesse James, Anne Frank), Mary Lee Bednarek (Death of a Salesman, Hell), and the Barrymore Award winning, Genevieve Perrier (Lady from the Sea).

The Women will be staged at The Latvian Society. Previews begin March 3, with Press Opening on Friday, March 4; the show will run three weeks, closing on March 20.

Machinal

Sophie Treadwell's Machinal will end the American Giants II Festival with a powerful punch. Considered the pinnacle of American Expressionism, Machinal permanently transformed theater in our country. Inspired by the real life and death of convicted murderer Ruth Snyder, this feminist masterpiece is a stunningly dark journey inside the female psyche.

Besides an extensive career as a playwright and journalist, Sophie Treadwell was active in the suffragette movement, as well as an advocate for sexual independence, birth control rights, and increased sexual freedom for women. As a journalist, she became the only American female war correspondent of WWI.

Director Brenna Geffers will bring her distinctive vision to this haunting play that has received revivals and great acclaim throughout the century. Coming off last year's success with The Hairy Ape, Geffers will utilize her unique physical and vocal techniques to bring this difficult text to life.

Philadelphia favorite Mary Tuomanen will take on the lead role of the Young Woman, whose existential crises and growing claustrophobia drive the action of the play. She is joined by EgoPo regulars like Ross Beschler (Wilma's Hamlet, EgoPo's Hell and Lady from the Sea) and Lee Minora (The Hairy Ape and GINT).

Machinal will be staged at The Latvian Society. Previews begin April 20, with Press Opening on Friday April 22; the show will run three weeks, closing on May 8.

Trifles

Susan Glaspell's short play, Trifles, will be the highlight of EgoPo's Midseason Party in January 2016. This masterpiece of American realism will be staged by Barrymore Award winning director Dan Kern. This one-night-only showing is exclusive to EgoPo Bronze Subscribers and donors.

Glaspell co-founded the Provincetown Players, America's first and most influential theater company. A prolific Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, she is now sadly often known for discovering Eugene O'Neill. Trifles is frequently cited as one of the greatest works of American theater and Ego is thrilled to bring this one-act to Philadelphia for the first time.


EgoPo is unveiling a new set of Subscription Plans to help audiences get the most out of the Festival experience. Basic Subscriptions for all three shows are just $60, with Subscriber levels from Bronze to Platinum offering perks including tickets to an exclusive Midseason Party featuring the fourth show, Susan Glaspell's Trifles. EgoPo's seasons are designed to be a fun year-long journey that is best experienced at one of our Subscription levels. For more information, go to www.egopo.org or call 267-273-1414.


EgoPo Classic Theater's American Giants II: The Women Festival Schedule:

The Children's Hour
The Latvian Society
531 North 7th St.
Previews: October 7-8
Runs: October 9-25
Tickets: Wed-Thurs: $25, Fri-Sun: $32, Opening Night: $35

The Women
The Latvian Society
531 North 7th St.
Previews: March 3
Runs: March 4-20
Tickets: Wed-Thurs: $25, Fri-Sun: $32, Opening Night: $35

Machinal
The Latvian Society
531 North 7th St.
Previews: April 20-21
Runs: April 22-May 8
Tickets: Wed-Thurs: $25, Fri-Sun: $32, Opening Night: $35

Trifles
EgoPo's Midseason Party
The Latvian Society
531 North 7th St.
Saturday, January 23
Tickets: Available with an EgoPo Bronze Subscription or $50 donation




Related Articles View More Philadelphia Stories   Shows

More Hot Stories For You