On Wednesday, February 21, "Survival of the Fittest" visits the land of the ubermenschen when we discuss "Taking Sides" (1995), by British playwright Ronald Harwood. Based on a true story, "Taking Sides" takes place in occupied postwar Berlin. Renowned symphony conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler flourished under the Nazis. The American military wants to know why. "Bracing" (Newsweek), "fierce" (Guardian), & "powerful" (Daily Mail), "Taking Sides" raises "the most profound questions with piercing urgency and comfortless clarity" (Telegraph). It's "a triumph" (New York Daily News), "brave, wise and deeply moving" (London Sunday Times), a "surprisingly entertaining play" that "persuades you to think" (New York Times). A movie adaptation recently began production in Germany. Ronald Harwood also wrote "The Dresser" (1980).
Two speakers will guide our discussion. A recent Fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Professor Rebecca Boehling teaches history at the University of Maryland. She is author of "A Question of Priorities: Democratic Reforms and Economic Recovery in Postwar Germany" (1996). Music critic Richard Freed, a graduate of Footlights co-sponsor the University of Chicago, frequently writes for such publications as the Washington Post & the New York Times. Freed is the program annotator for the National Symphony Orchestra.
We will meet at Delray Vietnamese Garden, 4918 Del Ray Ave. (301-986-0606), a few blocks N of the Bethesda metro. Take both up escalators, turn left onto Old Georgetown Rd., walk up to Del Ray Ave. & turn right. Drivers can find inexpensive garages on Cordell Ave. & Old Georgetown Rd. Dinner begins at 6:30; our discussion is 7:30-9:30. Make reservations by calling 202-638-0444 (24 hours/day) or e-mailing [email protected]. Get "Sides" with a discount at Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE; Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW; & Olsson's Books & Records, 1307 19th St., NW & 7647 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda.
On Monday, March 26, we'll discuss a "poignant" (Christian Science Monitor) & "very funny" comedy (Miami Herald): "The Old Lady's Guide to Survival" (1992), by Mayo Simon. "The Old Lady's Guide" shows how two very different women help each other cope with two different kinds of diminished capacity. A longtime writer for film & television, Simon created the TV series "Man from Atlantis" (1977) & wrote the Oscar-winning documentary "Why Man Creates" (1968). Our guest speaker will be playwright Mayo Simon himself. You can make reservations starting at 9:30 p.m. February 21, either in person at our February meeting or by calling 202-638-0444 or e-mailing [email protected].
This season hardly marks the first time we've discussed plays related to our current theme. At our very first meeting, in June 1995, Footlights discussed George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara" (1905), a play pitting the Salvation Army against the military-industrial complex, social conscience against conscienceless social reform. Then, in February 1997, we discussed David Mamet's sardonic "American Buffalo" (1975), a play that gives whole new meaning to the phrase "survival of the fittest." Back then, we had no chance to attend performances of these two classics. Now we can. On Saturday, March 10, at 2:30 p.m., we'll attend "Major Barbara." Tickets are $12 & payment is due March 1 (also the refund deadline). Then, on Sunday, April 22, at 3 p.m., we'll attend "American Buffalo." Tickets are $18 & the deadline is April 14. Both performances take place at the Source Theatre, 1835 14th St., NW, & include a cast discussion. Mail your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852 (240-669-6300 & [email protected]). Robin will distribute tickets in the lobby just before each performance.
Wednesday, February 21: "Taking Sides," Delray Viet
Monday, March 26: "Old Lady's Guide," Luna Books
Thursday, April 19: "After Darwin," Luna Books
Tuesday, May 22: "Homecoming," Delray Viet
Monday, June 18: "Lulu," Delray Viet
Wednesday, July 18: "Andersonville Trial," site TBA
All meetings start 6:30 p.m.