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FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS
November-December 2003

November "Heartbreak" 

Is George Bernard Shaw's "Heartbreak House" a political thesis wrapped in hilarious layers of startling characters and unexpected events? Or is it a brilliant display of wit with political-economic lines thrown in to give it an air of substance? Or, does it matter what it is? Because any play that can make us laugh and consider what may be causing the horrors of the modern world is good. Nick Olcott, director of Round House Theatre's upcoming production and a member of Footlights' Advisory Board, will tell us what he has gotten out of the play and what he wants us to see in it.

He has already written that the play-reportedly Shaw's favorite-can speak clearly and forcefully to us even though it was written in 1917 as an indictment of the generation that started World War I. Set in a manor house in the British countryside, the play features an eccentric family, their bewildered guests, and their peculiar servants as the bombs of war begin to fall. The LA Times said: "It is arguably George Bernard Shaw's most probing, prophetic, incisive, elegiac, Chekhovian, serious, sentient and heartbreaking play. "Heartbreak" is about the truth in lies and the lie in truth, encased in a creeping despair for the human race as a whole . . . "

Our Wednesday, November 19 dinner-discussion will be moderated by Jerry Stilkind at Casa Fiesta, 4910 Wisconsin Ave., NW (202-244-8888). Casa Fiesta is one block south of Fessenden St. on Wisconsin Ave. and two and a half blocks south of the Jenifer St. exit (elevators only) from the Friendship Heights Metro stop. We meet for dinner at 6:30 p.m.; the discussion starts at 7:30. To make reservations call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg at 202-898-4825 or gruenberg@footlightsdc.org.

Join Footlights for our theater trip to see "Heartbreak House" on Sunday, November 30 at 3 p.m. at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda. The theater is located at the corner of East-West Highway and Waverly St., one block from Wisconsin Ave. Weekend parking is free in the public garage less than a block away on Waverly St. Or take the Red Line to the Bethesda Metro stop, one block away. Tickets are $30, and include a post-show discussion. Send your check, payable to Footlights, to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. Call or e-mail Robin for information and reservations, 240-669-6300 or rlarkin@footlightsdc.org. Checks must be received by November 15.

December "Jumpers"

The Washington Shakespeare Company's web ad says: "What can you expect from a play by Tom Stoppard? Murderous philosophers? Philosophical tumblers? Tumbling murderers? A missing turtle? A disillusioned torch singer and her absent-minded professor husband, who is preparing a lecture, 'Is God?'"

Footlights will find out on Tuesday, December 9 at our dinner-discussion, again at Casa Fiesta, when we will have a triple treat. Guests Kathleen Akerley, David Bryan Jackson, and WSC artistic director Chris Henley will help us explore the topsy-turvy world of Tom Stoppard's "Jumpers" (1972). WSC is reviving "Jumpers" in January 2004. Kathleen Akerley, director of several hit Stoppard productions for Longacre Lea Productions will direct; David Bryan Jackson will play the focal role of George Moore. Robin Larkin will moderate our discussion.

Contact Mark (202-898-4825 or gruenberg@footlightsdc.org) for reservations for our December meeting. We will start taking reservations at the conclusion of our November 19 dinner-discussion, and not before.

Footlights in 2004

On Sunday, January 11, 2004 at 2 p.m. Footlights will see "Jumpers" at WSC's Clark St. Playhouse, 601 S. Clark St., Arlington, VA (Crystal City). For directions call 703-418-4808 or visit www.washingtonshakespeare.org. Tickets are $17 and include a special post-show discussion for Footlights. Mail your check to Robin or contact her for ticket reservations and information.

Our January dinner-discussion meeting will be on Thursday, January 22. To start off the new year, our own Debbie Minter Jackson will lead a panel discussion on "Playwriting: the Process." She and the panel will explore the actual creative process of writing plays-character development, creating scenes, tensions, pacing, and the intricacies of getting it down and done.

Helping Footlights

How? Well, of course, there is the usual way-no donation is too small, or too large, to be of considerable use in covering our expenses. But there are other ways you can make a contribution to keeping Footlights bright. We are looking for discussion leaders to fill out our program calendar this season. Do you have a favorite modern drama that you would like Footlights to read and discuss? Would you find and arrange for guest speakers for our dinner-discussion of the play? We've had directors, actors and scholars join us. 

Is the play going to be produced locally? Would you arrange a date and group rate for a trip to see the play after our discussion? For possible ideas, see the list of DC area theaters and their planned seasons at www.lowt.org.

Contact Mark, 202-898-4825 or gruenberg@footlightsdc.org, if you'd like to take on planning a future dinner- discussion program.

 Meanwhile, send your monetary-and tax-deductible- contributions to Footlights to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852. 

Calendar: 

Wednesday, November 19, 6:30 p.m. at Casa Fiesta
        Dinner-discussion of "Heartbreak House" 
Sunday, November 30, 3 p.m. at Round House Theatre
        Performance of "Heartbreak House" Tickets are $30 
Tuesday, December 9, 6:30 p.m. at Casa Fiesta
        Dinner-discussion of "Jumpers" 
Sunday, January 11, 2 p.m. at WSC's Clark St Playhouse
        Performance of "Jumpers" Tickets are $17 
Thursday, January 22, 6:30 p.m., 
        Dinner-discussion on "Playwriting: the Process"