History Matters/Back to the Future celebrity reading at Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center highlights historic women playwrights
Featuring award-winning New York-based actors, free public event culminates day-long conference exploring gender and performance
Update 7-27-12: Please note that Maryann Plunkett, Tony Award winner for "Me and My Girl" will now replace Mary Beth Peil in the cast of this concert reading.
July 13, 2012 — Washington, D.C. — The Women and Theatre Program of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and Georgetown University’s Davis Performing Arts Center co-sponsor a free reading, “History Matters/Back to the Future,” featuring scenes by historic women playwrights read by luminaries of the stage, screen, and television on Wednesday, August 1 at 7:30 p.m. Held at the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theatre, located on Georgetown University’s main campus in Washington, D.C., the concert reading stars three acclaimed New York-based actors, Kathleen Chalfant (Tony Award and Drama Desk Award nominee – “Angels in America: Millennium Approaches,” Drama Desk Award winner – “Wit”); Mary Beth Peil (Tony Award nominee – “The King and I,” Outer Critic Circle nominee – “Sunday in the Park with George” and “Nine”); and Tamara Tunie (Tony Award and Drama Desk Award winner – “Spring Awakening,” contract player on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).
Directed by Joan Vail Thorne, the reading spotlights work of gifted women playwrights of the past, featuring scenes from plays by Zoë Akins adapted from Edith Wharton, Jane Bowles, Alice Childress, Rachel Crothers, Angelina Grimké, Lillian Hellman, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Fay Kanin, and Maurine Watkins. The celebratory event highlights the great, often unsung contributions of women to American theater history with wit, drama, and lively contemporary stakes, and is presented in conjunction with the Women and Theatre Program's annual national conference, hosted this year in the Davis Performing Arts Center. The evening reading is free and open to the public on a first come, first seated basis.
“We’re excited to give center stage to classic American women playwrights through this event, and to recognize exceptional new plays by contemporary women playwrights who have won our annual Jane Chambers Contest—which we will announce that evening,” says Maya E. Roth, chair of Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts and a member of the Executive Board for the Women and Theatre Program. “In the context of such meager rates of production for plays by women in American theatre, including for classic works and for exceptional new plays by rising and established talents, we see buzz around women playwrights (past and present) as part of our civic engagement as theater artists, scholars, and audiences. All of these works features significant roles for women performers, another boon.” The reading thus riffs on the larger conference theme, “Staging Dissent, Performing Patriotism: Feminist Engagement in Social/Civic Dialogues.”
Director Joan Vail Thorne adds, “This evening event will be a celebration of the rich legacy of women in theatre. All the scenes selected were chosen from plays that should occupy a significant place in the consciousness of all informed theatre persons but have been largely forgotten.”
The dates of the plays range from 1916 – a passionate and uncompromising play by African American poet-playwright, Angelina W. Grimké, entitled RACHEL – to 1947 – a romantic comedy by Fay Kanin, a writer for film and television, as well as theatre, who was at one time President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. The roster includes farce – SO HELP ME GOD by Maurine Watkins; the best of melodrama – THE OLD MAID by Zoë Akins after the novella by Edith Wharton; and a kind of poetic expressionism – IN THE SUMMER HOUSE by Jane Bowles.
Full program of scenes and monologues includes the following:
THE OLD MAID (1934) by Zoë Akins/Adapted from Edith Wharton, IN THE SUMMER HOUSE (1953) by Jane Bowles, TROUBLE IN MIND (1955) by Alice Childress, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING A WOMAN by Rachel Crothers, RACHEL (1916) by Angelina W. Grimké, THE LITTLE FOXES (1939) by Lillian Hellman, PLUMES (1927) by Georgia Douglas Johnson, GOODBYE MY FANCY (1947) by Fay Kanin, and SO HELP ME GOD (1936) by Maurine Watkins.
Visit http://performingarts.georgetown.edu for more information about the Davis Performing Arts Center.
Broadway: ANGELS IN AMERICA (Tony and Drama Desk nominations); City Center ENCORES! BLOOMER GIRL (Dolly Bloomer), RACING DEMON (New York premiere, dir. by Richard Eyre), DANCE WITH ME, M. BUTTERFLY.
Off-Broadway: PAINTING CHURCHES by Tina Howe, PROPHECY by Karen Malpede, FAMILY WEEK by Beth Henley, VITA & VIRGINIA with Patricia Elliot at the Zipper Theatre; DEADMAN'S CELL PHONE by Sarah Ruhl at Playwrights Horizons. In addition to WIT for which she won the Drama Desk, OBIE, Lucille Lortel, and Outer Critics Awards, Kathleen has appeared Off-Broadway in A HARD HEART by Howard Barker at Epic Theatre Ensemble; SPALDING GRAY: STORIES LEFT TO TELL at The Minetta Lane Theatre; GREAT EXPECTATIONS at Theatreworks/USA; 5 BY TENN at Manhattan Theatre Club; GUANTANAMO at the Culture Project directed by Nicholas Kent and Sacha Wares; THE LAST LETTER by Vasily Grossman directed by Frederick Wiseman, Alan Bennett’s TALKING HEADS; SAVANNAH BAY by Marguerite Duras; FAR AWAY by Caryl Churchill; THE VAGINA MONOLOGUES with Nell Carter and Annabella Sciorra; NINE ARMENIANS (Drama Desk Nomination); TWELVE DREAMS (written and directed by James Lapine); HENRY V (New York Shakespeare Festival, directed by Doug Hughes, Callaway Award); TRUE HISTORY AND REAL ADVENTURES (by Sybille Pearson, dir. by Michael Mayer).
Regional Theater: Guthrie Theater, Arena Stage, Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep, Long Wharf Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, Mark Taper Forum, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Sundance Playwrights Lab, Mlwaukee Repertory Theatre, Paper Mill Playhouse and others.
Film: DUPLICITY by Tony Gilroy ; THE PEOPLE SPEAK by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove; THE LAST NEW YORKER; MURDER AND MURDER (written and directed by Yvonne Rainer),; BOB ROBERTS; FIVE CORNERS; JUMPIN’ AT THE BONEYARD; DREAM WORK (with Eric Bogosian); A PRICE ABOVE RUBIES; THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO; SIDE STREETS; RANDOM HEARTS; COMPANY MAN and KINSEY.
TV: The Damn Thorpes (pilot for the CW network), Mercy (new series for NBC), Rescue Me (Ma Garrity), One Life to Live (Headmistress), Book of Daniel (Katherine), Jo (Kate in the CBS pilot), The Guardian (social worker Laurie Solt in the CBS series), The Laramie Project, Benjamin Franklin, A Death in the Family (Aunt Hannah) for PBS Masterpiece Theatre, Law & Order (Lisa Cutler), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Beat, Storm of the Century (Stephen King miniseries for ABC); Prince Street, Spin City, LA Law.
MARY BETH PEIL
Broadway: FOLLIES, WOMEN ON THE VERGE, SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE, NINE (Outer Critic Circle nomination), KING AND I (Tony nomination)
Off Broadway: THE ROOM, FRAME 312, MISSING PERSONS/Obie (Atlantic Theatre Company); HEDDA GABLER (NYTW); FIRST LADY SUITE (Transport Group); AS 1000s CHEER (Drama Dept); LATERLIFE, CHEEVEREVENING/Obie (Playwrights Horizons); SYLVIA (MTC); FINDING the SUN (Signature); NAKED TRUTH/Obie.
Regional: FOLLIES (LA Music Center); THIRD STORY(La Jolla) ; 33VARIATIONS/Helen Hayes nomination, MONTH in the COUNTRY(Arena Stage); MPROUST/Jefferson nom (About Face); THE COCKTAIL HOUR (Longwharf); THINGS YOU LEAST EXPECT (Georgestreet); MADAGASCAR, WIT (Adirondack Theatre); LUCKY DUCK (Old Globe); SWEENEY TODD (Kennedy Center); HAYFEVER,TRIUMPH of LOVE (Yale Rep); HAMLET (Huntington)
Film: MIRRORS, FLAGS of OUR FATHERS,STEPFORD WIVES 2, ODD COUPLE 2
TV: THE GOOD WIFE (Jackie), DAWSON’S CREEK (Grams), FRINGE, SVU, L&O, THE REAGANS,THE JOB
Atlantic Theatre Co. member; YOUNG CONCERT ARTISTS Alum.
Tamara Tunie currently stars as Medical Examiner, Dr. Melinda Warner, on the hit drama series LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT. Her credits include:
Broadway: JULIUS CAESAR (with Denzel Washington), OH Kay (with Brian Stokes Mitchell), DREAMGIRLS (20th Anniversary Benefit Concert), LENA HORNE: THE LADY AND HER MUSIC.
Regional: CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, LES LIASONS DANGEREUSE, TARTUFFE, ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, TROILUS AND CRESSIDA (New York Shakespeare Festival, Central Park), LOOSE KNIT.
Film: FLIGHT, DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, CITY HALL, SNAKE EYES, EVE’S BAYOU, THE CAVEMAN’S VALENTINE.
Television: 24 (Season 1), LAW AND ORDER, SEX AND THE CITY, NYPD BLUE, NEW YORK UNDERCOVER, CHICAGO HOPE, and Jessica Griffin on AS THE WORLD TURNS.
Broadway Producer: Tony Award, SPRING AWAKENING, Tony nominated, RADIO GOLF, MAGIC/BIRD.
Off-Broadway Producer: DUTCHMAN (The Cherry Lane). Directorial Debut: SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER (available on Amazon.com). You can hear her voice on national commercials, documentaries, radio spots, and PSAs.
Ms. Tunie is Chair Emerita of the Board of Directors of FIGURE SKATING IN HARLEM, a non-profit organization that teaches education and life skills to young girls in the Harlem community through the art and discipline of Figure Skating. She serves on the Board of Directors of GOD’S LOVE WE DELIVER and is President of the Board of Directors of HARLEM STAGE/THE GATEHOUSE. She also serves on the Advisory Board of HEARTS of GOLD and LANDING STRIP FILMS.
About the Women and Theatre Program
The Women and Theatre Program is a self-incorporated division of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE). Founded in 1974, our mission is to bring theater professionals together with academics and activists. In the years since our inception, WTP has sponsored panels and activities at ATHE’s annual conference. In 1980, WTP began holding its own annual pre-ATHE conference. WTP conferences feature panels, informal discussions, workshops, and performances as a means to foster both research and production of feminist theatre activities. WTP conference topics have included the intersection of theory and performance, multicultural theatre, lesbian theory and theatre, and many related aspects of feminist inquiry. In addition to its conference activity, WTP, in collaboration with ATHE, sponsors the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award. This award is one of the few nationally recognized competitions for women playwrights and attracts over 200 submissions annually. The award-winning play is given a reading at ATHE, and an annotated list of the top contenders is circulated to the WTP members and over 400 regional theaters. The continuing goal of WTP is to enable feminist inquiry and to provide opportunities for discussion between those who teach, perform, and theorize about feminism, theatre, and performance. http://www.athe.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=135
About the Davis Performing Arts Center
Opened in November 2005 in the center of Georgetown University’s campus as the only building in Georgetown history designed specifically for arts education, the Davis Performing Arts Center is the academic home to the Department of Performing Arts and features two theatre spaces: the proscenium Gonda Theatre and the black box Devine Studio Theatre. The Davis Performing Arts Center season unfolds in intimate dialogue with the Department’s curricular offerings. In addition to mainstage theater productions, the Department sponsors numerous music and dance performances, workshops, readings, master classes, symposia, and guest lectures, placing students from the entire Georgetown community in regular contact with leading professionals from the US and beyond. http://performingarts.georgetown.edu
About History Matters/Back to the Future
History Matters/Back to the Future, producing entity of this reading also sharing its name with the evening’s event, promotes the study and production of women’s plays of the past in colleges and universities and theatres throughout the country and encourages responses to those plays from contemporary women playwrights. The steering committee includes Sallie Bingham, Jill Dolan, Jann Leeming, Helen Mills, Joan Vail Thorne, and Ludovica Villar-Hauser, and this reading is the organization’s kickoff event. www.historymattersbacktothefuture.wordpress.com
- There are no upcoming events scheduled at this time.
- Leading Washington Artists Reach Across Disciplines for World Premiere Dance-Theatre Collaboration: May 3-5
- Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program presents area premiere of “Trojan Barbie: A Car-Crash Encounter with Euripides’ ‘Trojan Women’” by newest faculty member Christine Evans
- Anna Deavere Smith Residency at Georgetown University Includes Symposium, Staged Reading of “On Grace”