from the Footlights


February 2008                                                          “Life shouldn’t be all work and no plays.”




February 26 - - The Hostage by Brendan Behan


Hostage: a person given as a pledge, or taken prisoner as by an enemy, until certain conditions are met.” New World Dictionary

In war, is there only the hostage? Might we all be considered hostages? Join Footlights with Keegan theatre members on Tuesday, February 26 at Alfio's to discuss The Hostage by Brendan Behan. First written in Irish by Brendan Behan as An Giall and performed in Dublin in 1957, the play was redone in English, adding a number of Irish rebel poems and songs and a few ditties from the English music hall.  It premiered in London in 1958.

The plot of the play revolves around the IRA's kidnapping of a British soldier in exchange for the release of an imprisoned IRA volunteer facing execution.  While set in 1960, the play looks back at the times of the Irish Troubles forty years earlier.  Behan had participated in IRA activities in the early 1940s and had been imprisoned twice, but had moved away from supporting the IRA - or so he says.   At our discussion we hope to work towards understanding better what Behan is about in the English version of The Hostage - a kind of comic tragedy and song and dance show about terrorist tactics and the Patriot Game (not the Super Bowl).

We meet at Alfio’s, in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD, two blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro. Street parking is limited because of construction projects in the area, but valet parking is free at the restaurant. Dinner is $12 (includes tip) with several choices of entrées, as well as salad, bread, ice cream & coffee.

Come early if you can but please arrive by 6:15 p.m. to allow sufficient time to get all the entrée orders in to the waiter. The discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. You may come just for the discussion, if you wish. We do suggest a $5 contribution to Footlights to cover our expenses. Your voluntary contribution to Footlights is tax-deductible.

Contact Mark Gruenberg to reserve for dinner, 202-898-4825 or [email protected]. If you later find you must cancel your dinner reservation, please let Mark know by noon on Tuesday, February 26.


The play is only published as part of the collection of Behan’s plays. You may order your copy of Behan's plays from Backstage Books (202-544-5744) or any other bookstore.


The Hostage at Keegan Theatre


Footlights plans to attend the Keegan Theatre production of The Hostage on Sunday,  March. 2 at 2 p.m.  with Talk Back discussion to follow. Tickets are $20. Send your check, payable to Footlights, to Robin Larkin, 5800 Nicholson Lane, #L07, Rockville, MD 20852. For further information, contact Robin: (240-669-6300) or [email protected].


The Keegan also produced The Hostage several years ago to great critical acclaim -- a result not easy to achieve for this work.


Footlights Discussion March 10

Arthur Miller’s The Price was first produced in 1968, fifteen years after "The Crucible," and almost two decades after "Death of a Salesman." The plot, the characters and the family issues are as compelling today as they were 40 years ago. Two brothers who haven’t spoken in 16 years are trying to sell the contents of their dead father’s apartment. Could things possibly go smoothly? Why haven’t they spoken? Does one brother hold the moral high ground? Did one brother betray the other?


This play would certainly be fascinating as a two-character play. However, as a bonus, Miller gives us an amazing catalyst: 86-year-old (or is he over 90?) Solomon, a used furniture dealer. Throw in a semi-drunk wife and the play provides some very dramatic confrontations.


We will discuss The Price on Monday, March 10 at Alfio’s. Our guest speaker, Vicki Bremen, of the chaplaincy department at St. Elizabeth’s hospital, will focus on family dynamics, whether the brothers are realistic, what techniques Miller uses to keep us off-balance and how the catalyst sets off an explosion that has been brewing for 16 years.


Copies of The Price by Arthur Miller are available at Backstage Books (202-544-5744).


When we see the play on March 30, we are in for an additional treat: Robert Prosky will play the dealer and Prosky’s two sons will play the two brothers at Theatre J.


Dinner-discussion reservations: Reserve with Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or [email protected].


Theater tickets: Robin Larkin, 240-669-6300 or [email protected]. Make check payable to Footlights. Send to Robin Larkin at her new address: 5800 Nicholson Lane, Apt. L07, Rockville, MD 20852.