from the Footlights

May 2006                                       “Life shouldn’t be all work and no plays.”                 


Reminder: On May 7, 4 p.m., Footlights sees The Sins of Sor Juana, performed in Spanish, with English surtitles, at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th St, NW. Tickets are $20.


The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance


“Sometimes I think my head is so big because it is full of dreams.”

Merrick in The Elephant Man


“Women and nervous persons fly in terror from the sight of him, and that he is debarred from seeking to earn a livelihood in any ordinary way, yet he is superior in intelligence, can read and write, is quiet, gentle, not to say even refined in his mind.”— An excerpt taken from Carr Gomm's letter to the Times Newspaper on December, 1886


On Thursday, May 18, Footlights will discuss our May play, the 1979 Tony award-winning drama, The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance. The story of Joseph Merrick, who lived in England during the late 19th century, has been the subject of both theater and film acclaimed accounts, and even an opera. Terribly deformed, Merrick is taken under the care of Dr. Frederick Treves, who educates him and introduces him to society, but he can never realize his dream of being a man like any other. Even today research continues to identify the genetic disorder(s) which caused his condition. It is now thought that he suffered from Proteus Syndrome, an extremely rare condition that was only identified in 1979 and that causes abnormal growth of the bones, skin and head.


Footlights is delighted to welcome back our friend and member of Footlights’ Advisory Board, Jim Petosa, Artistic Director of Olney Theatre Center, and Director of the upcoming Olney production of The Elephant Man as our guest speaker. Jim directed The Elephant Man for Catalyst Theater in 2004, a well reviewed production that Potomac Stages called “a finely tuned, highly atmospheric presentation that takes as its central feature a line from the play about its central character being equally highly polished ‘like a mirror that reflects each of us.’” Original Catalyst cast members Scott Fortier, Valerie Leonard and James Konicek will appear in the Olney production, which runs from May 24-June 18, 2006.


Footlights member Jerry Stilkind will moderate our May 18 discussion. We meet 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 from the Friendship Heights Metro stop. Street parking is available. Come for dinner at 6:30 p.m. The discussion begins at 7:30 and ends no later than 9:30 p.m. Buffet is $14, including tax and tip. Contact Mark Gruenberg to reserve, 202-898-4825 or If you later find you must cancel, please let Mark know.


You will enjoy the discussion even if you have not read the play, but we strongly encourage you to read it first. Backstage Books has ordered copies for Footlights. Backstage Books (202-544-5744) is located at 545 8th St. SE, Washington, DC; Eastern Market metro stop. Copies are also available at the library and wherever books are sold.


See The Elephant Man at Olney Theatre


We’ll see The Elephant Man on Saturday, May 27, at 2 p.m. Tickets for Footlights are only $19.50 and include a post show discussion. To reserve your place, send your check, payable to Footlights, to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852. Our deadline is May 18, also the date of our dinner-discussion meeting. Olney Theatre Center (301-924-3400) is located at 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, Maryland. We’ll help arrange carpools.


Picasso’s Closet by Ariel Dorfman


Our June play for discussion is a world premiere by Ariel Dorfman, noted for his Death and the Maiden. Theater J’s description: “Dorfman's biography of Pablo Picasso's time in Vichy, France posits a radical reinterpretation: What if Picasso didn't die in 1973 but was murdered by the Germans in 1944? And what if it wasn't Picasso's body that was murdered, but rather his soul, more insidiously, that was mortally threatened? Such are the moral stakes faced by the century's most illustrious artist while living under German occupation.”


We meet on Monday, June 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Alfio’s in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave, Chevy Chase, MD (301-657-9133), two blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro. Charlotte Baer and Diane Carroad will moderate. Our special guests are John Dillon, director, and Saxon Palmer, actor, from Theater J’s upcoming production of Picasso’s Closet.


The script for Picasso‚Äôs Closet by Ariel Dorfman is available to Footlights members by special arrangement with Theatre J.  You can get a copy at the May 18 Footlights meeting for $5.25 or you may request a copy by mail by sending your mailing address and a check for $7 to Beatrice Rouse, PO Box 5443, Rockville, MD 20848-5443.


We will see Picasso’s Closet on Sunday, June 25, 3 p.m. at Theater J. Tickets are $35 or $32 (seniors) and include a post show appearance by playwright Ariel Dorfman himself! Send your payment for tickets now to Robin.


About Footlights


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


Footlights Greatest Hits


Usually our plays for discussion are being produced locally around the time of our discussion so that we can see them, but not always. Two plays from Footlights past discussions will be performed in the Washington, DC, area soon.

     The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman, at Washington Shakespeare Company, June 1-July 2, 2006, discussed in September 1997.

     On the Verge or the Geography of Yearning by Eric Overmyer, at Arena Stage, May 5-June 11, 2006, discussed in December 1999.

For a complete list of plays discussed at Footlights, visit





Sunday, May 7, 4 p.m., performance of The Sins of Sor Juana at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th Street, NW. Tickets:$20

Thursday, May 18, 6:30 p.m. dinner-discussion of The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance. Casa Fiesta

Saturday, May 27, 2 p.m., performance of The Elephant Man at Olney Theatre. Tickets: $19.50 (new price!)

Monday, June 12, 6:30 p.m., dinner-discussion of Picasso’s Closet by Ariel Dorfman. Alfio’s

Sunday, June 25, 3 p.m., performance of Picasso’s Closet at Theater J, including post-show discussion with Ariel Dorfman. Tickets: $35 adult; $32 senior


Dinner-discussion reservations: Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or


Theater tickets: Robin Larkin, 240-669-6300 or Make check payable to Footlights. Send to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852