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“The Snow Walk of the Empress Matilda” comes to life at 7pm January 28, 2021.

"The Snow Walk Of the Empress Matilda"* a monologue by Stuart Eugene Bousel created for and performed by Catherine Luedtke** will be streamed online at and at 7pm January 28, 2021 and only available until February 1, 2021 part of EXIT Theatre Presents, EXIT Theatre's online performance series.

The Empress Matilda (1102-1167), fighting a war for the crown of England against her cousin Stephen of Blois (1092-1154), reflects on her life and the struggle to reconcile the strength required for her position with her human weaknesses and insecurities. She stands at the edge of a winter forest, waiting to meet the convoy that will whisk her out of harm's way, remembers confronting the Londoners who protested her coronation and spins out the tale of how she came to be Lady of England and everything she lost to get there - including her much beloved younger brother, William Adeline.

A story of resilience in the face of true existential threat- and the demons such moments often force us to confront - Luedtke says, "The line that resonates with me so so much is 'I had to hide myself to save myself' and that instinct to just disappear out of fear or necessity, to survive this, this 2020, and realizing that that does not always work ... that we actually had to look a lot harder at ourselves this year - to be in action in isolation. The opposite of what we do as theater artists. The danger of hiding oneself, one's truth and this nation's truth. Sometimes you have to make that journey. In what feels like a winter wilderness, our steps will lead us to each other. It's not YOUR journey it's all of us. And maybe just maybe we will come out of this for the better."

A fascinating but obscure footnote from 12th century English history, Bousel became interested in Matilda's story while researching the life of her son, Henry II, in preparation to direct The Lion in Winter at Custom Made Theatre Company in 2017. While working on the show with Catherine Luedtke, who was playing the role of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the production, they discovered a mutual interest in Matilda, and in particular the "Snow Walk" as they coined it.

Early on in the 2020 pandemic, Bousel had a dream where he saw Luedtke playing the role, and that morning contacted her about building the piece as a one woman show. Over the next month they exchanged emails, text messages, calls, and the piece was built. "While it might not be "King Lear", I do think it reflects not just the plight of the historically valiant (if hard-headed) Empress Matilda, but also a lot of the insecurities both Cat and I were dealing with at the time, and the world as a whole was wrestling. In that sense, I think it serves the true point of historic fiction, namely to use the past to help us understand the present and better conceive of a future. I mean, aren't we all kind of walking up a frozen river in the middle of the night hoping we make it till morning and the next thing? Isn't that basically everybody right now?"

"The Snow Walk of the Empress Matilda" comes to life at 7pm January 28, 2021 in a one time only live online performance on EXIT Theatre's Facebook page, and

The online performance is a benefit for EXIT Theatre where Bousel and Luedtke have been resident artists. Frequent Bousel collaborator, Nick Trengove, joins the project as director. "The Snow Walk of the Empress Matilda" is the initial offering of EXIT Theatre Presents, an online performance series by EXIT Theatre created to stream original performance. EXIT Theatre is a 37 year old theater company founded in San Francisco in 1983 by artistic director Christina Augello.

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