from the Footlights


February 2007                              "Life shouldn’t be all work and no plays."      

Insurrection: Holding History


On Tuesday, February 13, we will discuss Insurrection: Holding History by Robert O’Hara. Insurrection: Holding History follows Ron Porter, a young gay African-American graduate student as he travels back to the south of 1831 to participate in Nat Turner’s Rebellion, the infamous slave revolt of 1831, the failure of which resulted in even harsher and more restrictive treatment of many slaves. When his 189-year-old ancestor leads his mystical journey through time and history to the moment of crisis, he confronts his own misconceptions and stereotypes as well as his understanding of what it is to be gay and black in our modern world.


Robert O’Hara received his Directing MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts in 1996, where he wrote and directed Insurrection: Holding History as his Graduate Thesis. The play premiered at the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater in November 1996.


Our guest speaker is Jeremy Skidmore, artistic director of Theater Alliance where Insurrection will be produced. Timothy Douglas, acclaimed director of many of August Wilson’s plays, and director of Theatre Alliance’s upcoming production of Insurrection, lighting designer Dan Covey or set designer Tony Cisek are among possible additional speakers. And our own Debbie Minter Jackson will moderate our discussion.


We’ll meet at Casa Fiesta, 4910 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC (202-244-8888). Come at 6:30 p.m. for dinner; the discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. Dinner buffet is $14, including tax and tip. Make your reservations with Mark Gruenberg at or 202-898-4825. You may come for the discussion alone; we will have extra chairs. Please note: If you find you must cancel your reservation, please call (do not e-mail) Mark before noon on February 13, so we can give the restaurant an accurate count.


Insurrection: Holding History may be found at Backstage Books, 545 8th St. SE, Washington, DC (Eastern Market metro stop), but call first (202-544-5744) to pick up a copy of the play; if reserving a copy, please be sure to pick it up.


We will see Insurrection: Holding History on Sunday, March 4, 2 p.m. at Theater Alliance at the H St. Playhouse, 1365 H Street, NE, Washington, DC. Tickets are $18. Send your check, payable to Footlights, to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct, Rockville, MD 20852. Payment must be received by February 26. We’ll arrange carpools.


Ah, Wilderness!March Play


Footlights meets on Thursday, March 8 to discuss Eugene O’Neill’s only comedy, Ah, Wilderness! Written in 1932, the play was for O’Neill "the way I would have liked my childhood to have been." It begins on a sunny 4th of July, 1906, when O’Neill was 17. It’s about a middle-class family, the Millers, and in particular the story of Richard who is going on 17, just out of high school and looking for his own independence. Ah, Wilderness! captures a romantic vision of the spirit of America at that time. O’Neill said it was "a play true to the spirit of the American small-town at the turn of the century."


Our guest on March 8 is Dina Epshteyn, Dramaturgy Fellow at Baltimore’s CenterStage, and dramaturg for their upcoming production of Ah, Wilderness! Footlights’ John Glynn will moderate.


We’ll meet at Alfio’s in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD (301-657-9133), two blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro. $12 includes dinner and tip. Dinner is at 6:30; the discussion begins at 7:30. Make reservations with Mark.


Ah, Wilderness! is available at Backstage Books, or in your local library.


We will see Ah, Wilderness! on Sunday, April 1 at 2 p.m. at CenterStage, 700 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD. Tickets are $36. A talkback will follow this performance. Send your check to Robin, to arrive by March 19. We will arrange carpools.


For extensive archives on O’Neill, visit


After Darwin – A Footlights Greatest Hit


Usually, Footlights sees the plays we have read and discussed soon after the date of the discussion. In April, 2001, we discussed Timberlake Wertenbaker’s After Darwin. Now’s our chance to see Journeymen Theater’s production.


Timberlake Wertenbaker’s brain-teasing play addresses the ruling metaphor of our times: the survival of the fittest. Set in two distinct periods, After Darwin follows Charles Darwin traveling aboard the ‘Beagle’ with Robert FitzRoy into uncharted waters off the coast of South America and then, hundreds of years later, Millie, Ian and Tom as they recreate a stage version of Darwin’s travels. During their staging, they uncover the polarities both in and between their own lives. After Darwin tackles the issue of evolution, and how we live with one another in a world where, for many, "belief" has been replaced by a void.


We will see it on Saturday, March 17, 2 p.m. at the Church Street Theatre, 1742 Church Street, NW, DC. Tickets are $15. Includes a Footlights postshow discussion.


Support 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.


Contributions are welcome at any time. We suggest a $5 donation at our dinner-discussions, though this is voluntary. Some choose to donate annually rather than by the meeting. It is up to you.


Do you have a "last issue" sticker on this newsletter? It means that we have not seen you at our discussions or at theater events. We ask that you make a contribution to cover the cost of printing and mailing the postal Footlights newsletter.


Get Well!


Two now slightly bionic Footlighters are recovering from knee replacement surgery: Renée Gier and Mary Ann Wren. We wish them both speedy healing and continued good progress.




     Tuesday, February 13, 6:30 p.m., dinner-discussion of Insurrection: Holding History at Casa Fiesta, 4910 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC (202-244-8888). Dinner: $14, includes tax and tip. Suggested donation to Footlights: $5.


     Sunday, March 4, 2 p.m., performance of Insurrection: Holding History at Theater Alliance, H Street Playhouse, 1365 H Street, NE, Washington, DC. Tickets are $18. Deadline: February 26.


     Thursday, March 8, 6:30 p.m., dinner-discussion of Ah, Wilderness! at Alfio's, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD (301-657-9133). Dinner: $12, includes tax and tip. Suggested donation to Footlights: $5.


     Saturday, March 17, 2 p.m., performance of After Darwin at Journeymen Theater Ensemble, Church Street Theatre, 1742 Church Street, NW, DC. Tickets are $15. Deadline: March 15.


     Sunday, April 1, 2 p.m., performance of Ah, Wilderness! at CenterStage, 700 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, MD. Tickets are $36. Deadline: March 19.


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.