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FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS
February - March 2004

Arthur Miller's The Crucible March 1 

The play got mixed reviews when it opened in 1953. It is now Arthur Miller's most universally performed work and has even been transformed into a Pulitzer-winning opera (Robert Ward). From McCarthy to the Patriot Act-The Crucible's subject matter makes the Salem Witch Trials as timely today as it was 51 years ago. USA Today said: "Miller's work was written partly as a condemnation of McCarthyism. But the questions it raises about the vulnerability of intellectual freedom and the dangers posed by self-appointed moral crusaders could be applied in assessing any number of dilemmas, past and present." And from the New York Times: "[T]he play is a cautionary tale of astounding immediacy. Its themes include the pathology of rumor, the arrogance of the religiously righteous, the dangers of private panic in the face of public terror, and the individual's difficulty in acting rationally in the face of mob hysteria."

Our guest speakers embody a very different perspective, in that none of them was alive in 1953. Meet them on Monday, March 1 at our dinner-discussion at Casa Fiesta-the director of the upcoming Keegan Theatre production of The Crucible, Susan Marie Rhea, dramaturg Trudi Olivetti and Keegan Theatre artistic director, Helen Hayes nominee and playing John Proctor, Mark Rhea. Longtime Footlighter Betty Byrne will moderate our discussion. Make reservations with Mark Gruenberg now!


See The Crucible

Footlights will attend the matinee performance of The Crucible Sunday, March 14, at 2 p.m. at the Keegan Theatre, being performed at the Clark St. Playhouse, 601 S. Clark St., Arlington, VA (Crystal City), with post-show discussion included. Tickets are only $13! Directions to the Clark St. Playhouse may be found on www.keegantheatre.com. Contact Robin to offer a ride to others or to request a ride.

August Wilson's Fences

On Tuesday, March 16, again at Casa Fiesta, we meet to discuss August Wilson 's Fences. The powerful, stunning dramatic work that won Wilson critical acclaim and the Pulitzer Prize, portrays the frustrations of Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball player who had to settle for work as a garbage man before the Major League color barrier was finally broken. His hard-working strength and pride support his family during the early days of the civil rights movement, but the changing times and his own unrealized potential make him distrust opportunities offered to his son.

Our guest speaker is Dr. Sandra G. Shannon, Professor of Drama in the Department of English at Howard University. She has written extensively about August Wilson. In The Dramatic Vision of August Wilson she wrote: "I read Fences in 1987 and...felt that this man had somehow peeped into my own past to reinvigorate a part of my life that had for years lain dormant in my memory." Footlights members Ruth and Frank Pierce are moderating the discussion. Contact Mark Gruenberg for reservations after 9:30 p.m. on March 1.

Fences at Round House Theatre

We'll see Fences at Round House Theatre in Bethesda on Sunday, April 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $31. Contact Robin Larkin for ticket information. April 2 is the deadline for payment.

Reservations!

For dinner-discussion meetings: To attend either of our March dinner-discussions, call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg (202-898-4825 & gruenberg@footlightsdc.org). Please be considerate of fellow Footlights members. Call Mark to cancel if you cannot make the meeting, so someone else can attend. 

For theater tickets: Call or e-mail Robin Larkin (240-669-6300 & rlarkin@footlightsdc.org) for information and reservations. Send your check for the amount of the ticket(s), payable to "Footlights," to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. Your cancelled check is your receipt. Tickets are distributed by Robin at the theater just before the performance. 

Location for dinner-discussion meetings: Our meetings are held at Casa Fiesta, 4910 Wisconsin Ave., NW (202-244-8888), 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. Street parking is generally available. We meet for dinner at 6:30 p.m.; the discussion starts at 7:30 and ends at 9:30. Please pay for your dinner at the time you place your order. 

Copies of Plays: Check with "our" bookstores-Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE (202-544-5744), Politics & Prose (offers a special Footlights discount), 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW (202-364-1919), and Olsson's Books & Records, 1307 19th St., NW (202-785-1133), and 7647 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda (301-652-6399).

About Footlights

To get Footlights updates on-line, send any message-even blank-to join@footlightsdc.org. Subscribers can post to our on-line list by sending brief messages to list@footlightsdc.org. Visit our website at www.footlightsdc.org. Address all inquiries to Mark Gruenberg. 

Please support Footlights, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. Send your tax-deductible contributions to "Footlights," c/o Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. 

Now You Too Can Be a Star... At Least on the Footlights Stage

 Thanks to Robin, Jerry, Debbie, the Pierces, Rosalind, Heather, Susan and many more coming up, we've had a successful season with volunteers stepping forward to arrange our programs for 2003-04. But now it's time to start thinking about next year, and that's where we need your help. 

Beatrice Rouse and Mark Gruenberg are already planning our lead-off program for next September, but after that the floor is open. We're looking for volunteers who want to lead discussions of a particular modern drama, preferably one that will be playing in the area. You arrange the speaker-often the director...preferably before or during rehearsals; between you, select the date. You provide a short intro and a few questions before throwing it open for discussion. We do the rest. 

Then you get your time in the sun as the discussion leader, basking in the applause . . and noshing on your Footlights-paid-for dinner! Interested? Call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg. 

Unlike Shakespeare, We Won't Kill the Lawyers 

Shakespeare's famous line from one of the history plays-"First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."-doesn't apply to Footlights. What does apply is that we need a pro bono lawyer to make sure we're kosher with the forms we must fill out. It will probably take a few hours every quarter-year. Please step forward and help, by calling Mark.

Attracting Younger Members 

We've got a nice mix of people at Footlights-all different occupations, locations and interests. But what we lack, in common with many arts groups, is a younger cohort. So here's a call for our youthful members, especially those online: What would you like to see from our intellectual drama discussion group, in the way of programs, plays, playwrights or trips? Send your ideas, or better yet, volunteer to help figure out how to attract your peers, to Mark at gruenberg@footlightsdc.org or call him at 202-898-4825.

Calendar: 

Monday, March 1, 6:30 p.m.,
       Dinner-discussion at Casa Fiesta: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible
Sunday, March 14, 2 p.m. 
       Performance of The Crucible at Keegan Theatre (Clark St. Playhouse) – ticket price tba
Tuesday, March 16, 6:30 p.m.,
        Dinner-discussion at Casa Fiesta: August Wilson 's Fences Sunday, April 18, 3 p.m. 
        Performance of Fences at Round House Theatre