July 2003

"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

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] for details.

Footlights' Future

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]).

More Information

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