On Monday, June 16, we continue our friendship series with Lanford Wilson's "5th of July" (1978), the 1st of his trilogy about the Talley family ("Talley's Folly" won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize). Set in central Missouri, "5th of July" explores the scars left by the Vietnam War on the Talley family & its friends. After seeing "5th of July," Clive Barnes compared Wilson with Chekhov & wrote that Wilson's characters speak "with a special dramatic innocence." Harold Clurman called the play "wittily deft throughout, the general tone hilariously batty." "One of our most gifted playwrights" (The New York Times), Wilson first studied playwriting at the University of Chicago. We will meet at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW (3d floor of Cafi Luna, 3 blocks E of Dupont Circle) (202-332-2543). Dinner begins at 6:30 & our discussion at 7:30. MAKE RESERVATIONS by e-mailing Susan Kimmel ([email protected]) or calling Mark Gruenberg (202-638-0444). You can buy "5th of July" ONLY at Backstage Books, 2101 P St., NW (202-775-1488) or Chapters Bookstore, 1512 K St., NW (202-347- 5495). Both stores will mail you the play for a nominal additional charge. ORDER EARLY to allow time for shipment.


Our "5th of July" discussion will feature director Christopher Henley, whose production of the play will open at the Washington Shakespeare Company June 5. WSC's artistic director, Henley has directed such works as "Hamlet," "The Grapes of Wrath," "Uncle Vanya," & "The Merchant of Venice," & co-directed a celebrated production of "A Streetcar Named Desire." He recently appeared as James Joyce in the WSC's production of Tom Stoppard's "Travesties."


On Sunday, June 29, at 2 p.m., Footlights will attend "5th of July" at the Washington Shakespeare Company, 601 S. Clark St. in Arlington, VA, at the N end of Crystal City (703-418-4808). Tickets are $12 (a substantial discount) & include a post-performance discussion with the cast. Make your check out to the Washington Shakespeare Company & mail by June 13 to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. The Clark Street Playhouse is a 15-minute walk from the Pentagon City & Crystal City metro stations. From the Crystal City metro walk north on Clark St., keeping Jefferson Davis Highway (VA-1) on your left. From Pentagon City cross under the highway at 15th St., make an immediate left, & walk north on Clark St. Robin will bring maps to our June 16 meeting; the theater's a bit hard to find.


On Tuesday, July 15 our friendship series concludes with Jean Anouilh's "Becket," about the close friendship between Thomas Becket & England's King Henry II. Director Jim Petosa will join our discussion. We will attend Petosa's Olney Theatre production of "Becket" at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 9. Tickets are $16 & include a private post-performance discussion with the lead actors. Make your check out to the Olney Theatre & mail by July 15 to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. Watch for our fall series on children! Plays under consideration include Hellman's "The Children's Hour," Shepard's "Buried Child," & Brecht's "Mother Courage and Her Children."


On Monday June 23 & Tuesday June 24, at 7:30 p.m., the Black Women Playwrights' Group will present "The Spice of Life," 2 evenings of staged readings of plays by black women playwrights. "DreamLand," by Footlights' own Debbie Minter Jackson, is scheduled for Tuesday June 24. Readings take place at the Studio Theatre, 1333 P St., NW. The Group requests a $15 donation for each evening ($25 for both evenings). For further information, call 202-832-7329. Go Debbie!


At our meeting May 15 we discussed Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning "The Heidi Chronicles." Wasserstein's most recent play, "An American Daughter," starring Hal Holbrook & Kate Nelligan, opened April 13 at Broadway's Cort Theater. The play depicts the controversy surrounding its title character's nomination as Surgeon General of the United States. Debbie Jackson recently saw "An American Daughter" & liked it. "The play provokes thoughts about truth, honor, family ties, & lifelines, while highlighting important aspects of women's health care & medical research. It asks the profound question, 'What happens when no matter how hard you try, you can't make your dreams come true?' And it answers, 'You keep going.' I would definitely recommend it."


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