Playwright Sheds "Light"

On Wednesday, March 15, we continue our series Time and Memory: Looking Forward, Looking Back with "Available Light" (2000), by local playwright Heather McDonald. Our first brand-new play, "Available Light" tells the true story of a 15-year-old peasant, in 1835 Normandy, who killed his mother, brother, & sister with a pruning hook. The Village Voice called McDonald's "Dream of a Common Language" (1992) "gripping, sexy, and subversive," the Washington Post found it "touching and illuminating," & a 1994 DC-area production won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Resident Production. Bob Mondello in the City Paper praised McDonald's "An Almost Holy Picture" (1995) as full of "subtlety and eloquence"; Variety called it "abound[ing] with intelligence, imagery and emotion." One of America's leading historical dramatists, McDonald says she likes "looking at things going on now through the prism of another period."  

Our March meeting will feature Heather McDonald herself. A native of Canada, McDonald studied journalism & theology at Florida State University, then earned a graduate degree in playwrighting from New York University. In addition to writing & directing, McDonald has taught theater at various schools, including Colorado College, American University, & George Mason University. She will direct the world premiere of "Available Light" at Signature Theatre March 7-April 16.

We will meet at Luna Books, 1633 P St., NW (3 blocks E of Dupont Circle).  Dinner begins at 6:30 & our discussion at 7:30; we end at 9:30. To attend this meeting you must have a reservation: call 202-638-0444 or e-mail [email protected]. If we're full we'll put you on our waiting list. For a copy of the play, send a $10 check (payable to Footlights) to Betty Byrne, 1822 Ingleside Terrace, NW, Washington, DC 20010 (202-483-4048 & [email protected]).

"Light" On at Signature

At 2 p.m. Sunday, March 26, Footlights will attend "Available Light" at Signature Theatre, 3806 S. Four Mile Run Dr., between Columbia Pike & I-395 in Arlington, VA. Tickets are $23 but we're sold out & will issue no refunds after March 5. To get on our waiting list, contact Robin Larkin at 240-669-6300 or [email protected]. Or you can attend the 2 p.m. Sunday April 16 performance for $25 with the theatergoing group Ushers; call 202-363-7047 or e-mail [email protected]. For tickets to other performances, call ProTix at 703-218-6500.

Molly Does Miller

On Thursday, April 13, as part of our Time and Memory series, Footlights
for the first time will revisit a playwright we've already discussed:  Arthur Miller, "America's greatest living playwright" (Cambridge Guide to Theatre). We'll discuss Miller's first hit play, "All My Sons" (1947).  "All My Sons" portrays a businessman's desperate attempt to hide a shameful secret about his past from his adoring son. The New York Herald Tribune found "All My Sons" "incandescent," while the New York Times's Brooks Atkinson called it "fresh and exciting" & proclaimed "the theatre has acquired a genuine new talent." We will start taking reservations for this meeting at 9:30 p.m. March 15; contact Mark Gruenberg (202-638-0444 & [email protected]). Our guest speaker: director Molly Smith, artistic director of Arena Stage, 1101 6th St., SW, where we'll attend "All My Sons" at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 8. Tickets are $26. Tempus fugit!  Mail your check today to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852.

Vacation Plans

For our annual August break, Footlights is considering organizing a trip to the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Niagara-on-the-Lake is just N of the famous falls & an 8-hour drive from Washington. The Shaw Festival specializes in plays by George Bernard Shaw & his contemporaries.  This summer's line-up includes Luigi Pirandello's "Six Characters in Search of an Author," an adaptation of William Golding's "Lord of the Flies," the Jerry Bock-Sheldon Harnick musical "She Loves Me," Shaw's "The Doctor's Dilemma," & a play from Footlights' current series, Time and Memory: J.B. Priestley's "Time and the Conways," which we'll be discussing this July. Our trip would take place around either August 18-20 or August 25-27. If you're interested, contact Robin Larkin (240-669-6300 or [email protected]). Indicate your date preference and budget.

Working a "Miracle"

In November 1998 our own Rachel Hartig led our discussion of William Gibson's "The Miracle Worker" (1959). The experience inspired Rachel to restudy the life & works of Helen Keller & her French counterpart, Yvonne Pitrois. This summer, Rachel will travel to France for further research.  From March 10-April 30 you can see "The Miracle Worker" at Arena Stage under director Nick Olcott, who led our discussion last November of Alan Ayckbourn's "Communicating Doors" (1994). Tickets are $10-45. At 7 p.m. Monday, March 13, artistic director Molly Smith will interview Nick Olcott at the Fichandler Theatre. Tickets are $3 (free to Arena subscribers).  For tickets or more information call Arena at 202-488-3300.

Playwrights on Parade

Last June we discussed Tony Kushner's "Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches" (1991). Earlier we discussed Lanford Wilson's "5th of July" (1978) & Marsha Norman's "'night, Mother" (1983). You can meet all 3 playwrights when the Corcoran Gallery of Art hosts a series of interviews by Shakespeare Theatre artistic director Michael Kahn. The series begins March 1 with Peter Shaffer ("Equus," "Amadeus"), & continues with Wilson, Norman, & Kushner on March 8-22. Tickets for the series cost $95; individual lectures cost $30 ($75 & $25 for museum members). All interviews start at 7:30 p.m. at the Corcoran, 500 17th St., NW. For more information call 202-639-1770.


Wednesday, March 15, 6:30 p.m.: "Available Light," Luna Books
Thursday, April 13, 6:30 p.m.: "All My Sons," Luna Books
Monday, May 15, 6:30 p.m.: "Death and the Maiden," Delray Viet Gdn
Tuesday, June 20, 6:30 p.m.: "Collected Stories," Luna Books
Wednesday, July 19, 6:30 p.m.: "Time and the Conways," Delray Viet Gdn
Sunday, March 26, 2 p.m.: "Available Light," Signature Theatre
Saturday, June 3, 8 p.m.: "Death and the Maiden" (video), Arl. U-U Church
Thursday, June 8, 8 p.m.: "All My Sons," Arena Stage
Sunday, July 16, 3 p.m.: "Collected Stories," Theater J
August 2000, date TBA: "Time and the Conways," Shaw Festival, Ontario