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FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS
September 2002

Year of the Woman

Most Footlights members are women. Most theatergoers are women. Most Americans are women.

Most characters in most plays are men.

This season, Footlights does its part to redress the balance: our central characters are all women.  Footlights's "Year of the Woman" starts Thursday, September 5, with "The Maids" ("Les Bonnes") (1947), by French playwright Jean Genet (1910-86), once hailed "the greatest living playwright" (Newsweek). In the bedroom of a wealthy woman, two maids play a secret, sadistic game, each acting in turn as an imperious employer or her vengeful servant. During breaks from the game, they scheme to murder their mistress. From campy start to shocking climax, "The Maids" is "searing" (New York Magazine) & "sensual" (New York Post), "gripping" (Guardian) & "darkly comic" (Los Angeles Times). The New York Times called "The Maids" an "unremittingly moving" drama, "among the most influential and consequential in the international repertory." 

Our discussion will feature director Jose Carrasquillo.  An original member of Footlights, Jose earned his B.A. from Indiana University (Bloomington) & his M.A. from American University. He served as founding artistic director of Freedom Stage & later led Seattle's Group Theatre. Jose's recent DC-area directing credits include "The Obituary Bowl" at Woolly Mammoth (1996), "Sueno" ("Life is a Dream") at Olney Theatre Center (2000), & "Metamorphosis" (1998) & "Blood Wedding" (2001), both at Washington Shakespeare Co. Jose's production of "The Maids" opens at WSC August 27.

We'll meet at Pan Asian Noodles and Grill, 2020 P St., NW (202-872-8889), just west of Dupont Circle. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. (just when on-street parking limits lift). Our discussion takes place 7:30-9:30. Make reservations by calling 202-898-4825 any time, day or night, or e-mailing gruenberg@footlightsdc.org. Sweep up after "The Maids" (in collection with "Deathwatch") at Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE, & for a special Footlights discount at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, & Olsson's Books & Records, 1307 19th St., NW, & 7647 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda. 

"Maids" on Stage

The Chicago Tribune called "The Maids" "gorgeous to hear and fascinating to watch." We'll listen & see for ourselves 2 p.m. Saturday, September 21, at the Washington Shakespeare Co., 601 S. Clark St. in Crystal City. Tickets are $13 & include a post-show discussion.  We can provide transportation or detailed directions, both by car & from the two nearby Metro stations. Mail your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852 (240-669-6300 & rlarkin@footlightsdc.org).

Women of the Cloth

Our study of modern drama's portrayal of women continues Wednesday, October 2, with "The Amen Corner" (1955), by James Baldwin, "the foremost black writer of his generation" (Washington Post). In "The Amen Corner", a rigidly pious pastor can neither forgive her scapegrace jazzman husband nor accept her teenage son's normal adolescent ambitions for companionship & career. When her husband returns home terminally ill, the pastor faces losing him, her son, & her pulpit. "Touching and valuable" (Nation), "forceful" (Los Angeles Times) yet "witty" (Financial Times), this is a "timeless" (Chicago Sun-Times), "eloquent" play (New Yorker), whose central character "haunts the memory" (New York Times). Two Howard University professors will lead our discussion: Yasmin DeGout, whose 1998 dissertation dissected Baldwin's work from biographical, gendered, & religious perspectives; & Eleanor Traylor, English Department chair, who knew James Baldwin well. We'll attend a performance of "The Amen Corner" 2 p.m. Sunday, October 6, by the African Continuum Theatre Co. at the recently renovated H Street Theater, 1365 H St., NE. Tickets are $15 & include a post-show discussion. We can provide transportation; just ask. Mail your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852 (240-669-6300 & rlarkin@footlightsdc.org). 

Discussion Meetings

Thurs., Sept. 5: "The Maids," Pan Asian Noodles
Wed., Oct. 2: "The Amen Corner," Pan Asian Noodles
Wed., Nov. 6: "The Women," Luna Books
Tues., Dec. 3: "Alison's House," Pan Asian Noodles
Mon., Jan. 13: "The Last Seder," location TBA
Thurs., Feb. 13: TBA
Mon., Mar. 3: "Elizabeth the Queen," location TBA

Greatest Hits Series

Sun., Nov. 10: "Death and the Maiden," Theater J
Sun., Dec. 15: "A Delicate Balance," Everyman Theatre

More Information

For more information about Footlights, check our website, www.footlightsdc.org. You can subscribe to our list & receive our monthly e-letter for free by sending any message--even blank--to join@footlightsdc.org