April - May 2004

Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac 

Our April 29 dinner-discussion moderator, Rosalind Lacy MacLennan, asks: Cyrano—a voice from the past or of the present? Is Cyrano one of the first modern antiheroes?

Our guest, Dr. Deborah Payne Fisk, Theater historian and Associate Professor of Literature, American University, will help put Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac in its historical context, as a French play, that evolves out of French literary/theatrical tradition and resonates with modern overtones. How will we and other Washington, D.C. audiences react to this theater "classic" that premiered in Paris in 1897? How humorous is this "Heroic Comedy?" How serious is it?

Dr. Fisk holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from U.C.L.A. Presently, an Associate Professor of Literature, and an Affiliate Professor of Performing Arts, American University, Fisk is also a guest instructor, at the Academy of Classical Acting, The George Washington University. She also serves as the Humanities Research Consultant, The Shakespeare Theatre. As a historian with a rich assortment of published articles and many awards, Fisk has a work in progress: A History of World Theatre, Laurence King Press.
Don’t miss this discussion that will open a window not only on French theater but also on history as well. Remember, if we fail to put plays in context, we lose our theater history. If we forget our history, we risk reruns of our mistakes.

Footlights will meet at 6:30 p.m. for dinner on Thursday, April 29; the discussion begins at 7:30 and ends by 9:30.

We meet at a new location: Guapo’s at 4515 Wisconsin Ave, NW, upstairs. Go by Metro. Guapo’s is right next to the Tenleytown station. Take the east side exit. Turn right on Wisconsin Ave to 4515. If you must come by car, try to park on the street, on Albemarle, 42nd or 40th Streets, behind the Metro station. There are two garages, but they collect until 11 p.m. and will charge $15 for three hours.

To make reservations for April’s dinner-discussion meeting, call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or [email protected].

Cyrano in Translation

Check with "our" bookstores for your copy of Cyrano. Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE (202-544-5744) offers several different translations. Our speaker prefers the Anthony Burgess translation. Politics & Prose, 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) have the Brian Hooker translation, and both stores offer a special Footlights discount. If you can, try to read both translations.

Cyrano at The Shakespeare Theatre

Footlights will attend the matinee performance of The Shakespeare Theatre’s new production of Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Michael Kahn, Saturday, June 26, at 2 p.m. Tickets for Footlights are $32 and include a reservation for the 5 p.m. Classics in Context discussion about Cyrano following the performance. The Shakespeare Theatre is located at 450 7th St., NW, just one block south of the Gallery Place Metro station.

For tickets to see Cyrano with Footlights (and for any of the other theater trips on our schedule) send your check, payable to "Footlights," to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. For information contact Robin, 240-669-6300 or [email protected]. Your cancelled check is your receipt. Tickets are distributed by Robin at the theater just before the performance. 

Footlights Greatest Hits Series Returns

See our schedule of theater performances below. When possible, we see plays that we have discussed previously, but which were not in production locally that season. Coming up in May: Waiting for Godot and Boy Gets Girl.

Ari Roth’s Oh, the Innocents in May

Our Monday, May 17 dinner-discussion brings us Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth, who will direct his own play with his own music—a play about making music or any kind of art in a world dominated by commercial interests and pressures for success and fame. We will begin taking reservations for the May meeting at 9:30 p.m. April 29 immediately following the Cyrano discussion.

About Footlights

To get Footlights updates on-line, send any message—even blank—to [email protected]. Subscribers can post to our on-line list by sending brief messages to [email protected]. Visit our website at Address all inquiries to Mark Gruenberg. 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.

Monetary contributions are always welcome and essential to keep us afloat, but Footlights welcomes your help in other ways, too. Thanks to this season’s volunteers, we've had very successful programs. Now it's time to start thinking about next year, and that's where you can 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. Interested? Call or e-mail Mark Gruenberg.

Are you a lawyer who could volunteer a few hours each quarter? We need a pro bono lawyer to make sure we're kosher with the forms we must fill out. Please step forward and help; call Mark.

Lastly, we need some advice from 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 [email protected] or call him at 202-898-4825.

Mark is waiting (patiently, of course) for your calls and e-mails!


Sunday, April 18, 3 p.m. 
    Performance: August Wilson’s Fences at Round House Theatre
Thursday, April 29, 6:30 p.m. 
    Dinner-discussion at Guapo’s: Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac
Sunday, May 2, 2 p.m
    *Performance: Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot at WSC (Clark St. Playhouse); tickets $17
Monday, May 17, 6:30 p.m. 
    Dinner-discussion: Ari Roth’s Oh, the Innocents
Sunday, May 23, 2 p.m. 
    *Performance: Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl at Theater Alliance (H St. Playhouse); tickets $17
Saturday, June 12, 2 p.m. 
    *Performance: Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inishmaan at Studio Theatre; tickets $25
Tuesday, June 22, 6:30 p.m. 
    Dinner-discussion: Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal
Saturday, June 26, 2 p.m. 
    Performance: Edmund Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac at The Shakespeare Theatre; tickets $32