LILLIAN HELLMAN'S

THE CHILDREN'S HOUR

EgoPo’s American Giants II season opener!

 

Lillian Hellman’s renowned play, set in an all-girls boarding school in the 1930s, returns to Philadelphia to launch the season. When one of the wealthy girls does not get her way, she destroys the lives of the headmistresses by accusing them of a secret love. This powerful tragedy that confronts the dangers of sexual prejudice, shockingly, still resonates today. Guest director Adrienne Mackey, of Swim Pony Performing Arts, brings this classic to an exciting new life for EgoPo.

 

THOUGHTS FROM DIRECTOR ADRIENNE MACKEY: “THE CHILDREN’S HOUR is an interesting exploration of female spaces, something you don’t see a lot of in that time period. The show is so overwhelmingly dominated by female viewpoints and concerns and I liked the fact that in it you get to see a world in which the control and shift of power are explored through that lens. I started thinking a lot about my own pre-teen and teenaged years and the ways in which society really confines what it means to be a young woman. I was really struck by the central character of Mary as a girl who is obviously smart and a little bit of an outsider, something that I think a lot of people can relate to. I think there’s a version of this play, where she’s simply a bad seed. But I’m hoping instead to explore how something so casual as an accusation from a child can expose the darker forces that are woven into our culture and viewpoints…There are a lot of characters in this show that might be easy to stereotype, but my hope is really to pull out the humanness underneath those archetypes.” Click here for full article in Phindie.

 

HISTORY OF THE PLAY: The play was Hellman’s first hit, and was originally staged on Broadway in 1934 at Maxine Elliott's Theatre, where it ran for over two years.  At the time of the Broadway run, any mention of homosexuality on stage was illegal in the state of New York, but the play was such a success and so widely praised by critics that the rule was not enforced.  However, the play was banned in Boston, Chicago, and London. Adapted to film twice, the first was produced in 1936 and directed by William Wyler, with a new title and changed plot which purged the story of its homosexual content. It wasn’t until 1961 that the play was fully adapted into a film, starring the likes of Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner.

 

THE PLAYWRIGHT:  The New York Times has called Hellman "one of the most important playwrights of the American theater." She was born in New Orleans on June 20, 1905 to wealthy German-Jewish parents. Following her three years at NYU, Hellman married and moved to Hollywood where she worked as script reader for Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and fell in love with Dashiell Hammett, a mystery writer. Due to her connections in literary circles, Hellman became known as a pro-Stalinist, and in 1948, she was blacklisted from Hollywood by Senator Joseph McCarthy's anti-Communist witch-hunt. In 1952, when she was called to testify before the House of Un-American Activities Committee, she refused to name names or speak of anything other than her own activities. In a line from one of her most famous plays, she told the Committee: "I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions."

 

Want to read more of Hellman’s work?
The Little Foxes
(1939), Watch on the Rhine (1941), The Searching Wind (1944), Another Part of the Forest (1947), The Autumn Garden (1951), Toys in the Attic (1960) 

Directed by Adrienne Mackey

 

CAST

 

Karen....................................Jenna Horton

Martha..................................Emilie Krause

Mrs. Tilford.....................Cheryl Williams*

Mrs. Mortar.................Mary Lee Bednarek

Joe.....................................Keith Conallen*

Agatha................................Maryruth Stine

Mary...............................Maggie Johnson*

Rosalie..................................Samia Merritt

Evelyn......................................Katie Verde

Helen............................Francesca Piccioni

Peggy..................................Rebekah Sharp

Lois.....................................Twoey Truong 

Catherine...............................Kishia Nixon

 

* Actors appearing with permission of Actors' Equity Association

Performance Dates
October 9- October 25

 

Performances at:
The Latvian Society, 

531 N 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123

 

Run Time:
TBA
 

Tickets:

  • Opening Night 10/9: $35

  • Wed-Thurs: $25

  • Fri, Sat, Sun: $32

  • Student: $12 

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  • The Latvian Society is not fully handicap accessible. Please contact EgoPo with any assistance needs.

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Student Matinee

 

© 2015 by EgoPo Classic Theater. 

Theater Location: 531 North 7th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123.

 

Office Location: 317 Dickinson Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

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