FROM THE FOOTLIGHTS
"Women": An "Exciting" Exit
Our series "Women at the Footlights" ends Monday, July 14, with one of
the most influential plays of the early twentieth century. "Diana of
Dobson's" (1908) launched the career of playwright & feminist activist
Cicely Hamilton (1872-1952). Hamilton's heroine starts the play working in a
sweatshop. When she receives a small inheritance, she spends it all on a month
at a high-class Alpine resort frequented by eligible bachelors. Reckless
extravagance--or wise investment? At the play's London premiere, the critics
were "unanimously favourable" (World). "Clever" (Daily
Express), "delightful" & "gloriously successful" (Daily
Chronicle), this "deservedly popular" play (Daily Mail) toured the
provinces for a generation. Reviews of the 2001 New York revival of "Diana
of Dobson's" echoed those of the premiere: the Village Voice praised its
"compassion and humor"; the New York Times found it "witty"
& "smart"; & the New York Post called it "exciting"
& "remarkably moving." Cicely Hamilton also wrote the powerful
polemic "Marriage as a Trade" (1909).
To lead our discussion, Canadian director & playwright Alisa Palmer will
fly here from Toronto. Trained at McGill University, the Royal Conservatory of
Music, & Cirque de Soleil, Palmer won Ontario's Chalmers Award for writing
"A Play About the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo" (1994). Her work on
"Anything That Moves" earned Outstanding Direction, Outstanding New
Musical, & Outstanding Production at the 2000 Dora Mavor Moore Awards,
Toronto's equivalent to the Tonys. In 2001 she directed a celebrated revival of
Ann-Marie MacDonald's "Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)"
(1988). Palmer has taught at the Toronto School of Opera, York University, &
the University of Toronto. Her production of "Diana of Dobson's" runs
through October 3 at the Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. For a free
Festival season brochure, call 800-511-SHAW or visit www.shawfest.sympatico.ca.
We'll meet at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW (202-332-2543), three blocks east of
Dupont Circle. Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m.; our discussion ends at 9:30. Make
reservations by calling 202-898-4825 (24 hours/day) or e-mailing [email protected].
Arrive early: latecomers may have to eat elsewhere. Flirt with a brand-new,
extensively annotated "Diana" at Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE,
& also (for a Footlights discount) at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut
Ave., NW & Olsson's Books & Records, 1307 19th St., NW & 7647 Old
Georgetown Rd., Bethesda. You can also find "Diana" alongside
"Alison's House" (our December play) in "Worthy But Neglected:
Plays of the Mint Theater Company" (2002).
Footlights on Stage
Once more, Footlights' own Debbie Minter Jackson has a play on stage, and we're
going! On Tuesday, June 24, 7:30 p.m. at the Studio Theatre, 1333 P St., NW,
Debbie's "Journey Home" will open "Spell #14," an evening of
five short works by members of the Black Women Playwrights' Group. Tickets are
$20 at the door, $15 in advance (for the general public), & $12 with
Footlights. Call 202-484-8303 or e-mail [email protected]
After our July dinner-discussion, Footlights founder and executive director
David Sobelsohn will begin an indefinite leave of absence. The Footlights board
of directors is currently planning activities for next season. Events under
consideration include a theater critics roundtable and a session on playwriting.
Watch future newsletters for details. For further information, or to help put
together next season, contact Mark Gruenberg (202-898-4825 & [email protected]).
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