The Ladies of the Camellias
November 20 through December 20, 2015
Written by Lillian Groag
Directed by Julian López-Morillas
Production Manager Wood Lockhart
A hilarious farce about an imagined meeting between famous theater divas Eleanora Duse and Sarah Bernhardt, the Ladies will leave you begging for more. Set in 1897 in Paris, the two stars- the biggest and most temperamental of their day – are scheduled to perform back-to-back productions of the same play at the same theater. Members of both acting companies expect fireworks, and fuel is added to the fire when a young Russian anarchist named Ivan threatens to blow everyone up, including the two rival stars!
Using their only weapon – theatrical dialogue – to disarm the would be murderer, they uncover his true ambition, a unifying discovery that leads to forgiveness and transformation for all involved.
“Civilization changes the world, not bombs.”
Starring Francisco Arcila, Geoffrey Colton, Adrianna Dinihanian, Laine Flores, Frederick Lein, Wood Lockhart, Liam Robertson, Mohammad Shehata and Michele Wolpe.
Schedule of Special Events
Opening Night! Subscriber/Press Reception at 7 pm. Included in the price of your 86th Season Subscription.
Buzz at the Barn! Bellini & Hors d’oeuvre at 7 pm. Included in the price of admission.
Talk Back with director Julian López-Morillas and the cast following the show.
Belle Époque with $9 Kir Royale cocktails and gourmet French macarons. Victorian dress optional.
$9 Kir Royale Cocktails
Talk Back with director Julian López-Morillas and the cast after the show.
Michele Wolpe, Mohammad Shehata and Adrianna Dinihanian. Photo by Robin Jackson.
Michele Wolpe and Adrianna Dinihanian as Bernhardt and Duse. Photograph by Robin Jackson.
Julian López-Morillas (Director) has been acting and directing in the Bay Area for the past four decades. In his many seasons as Associate Artistic Director at the Berkeley Shakespeare Festival (now California Shakespeare Theatre) he directed productions including Pericles, Henry IV Part One, All’s Well that Ends Well, Timon of Athens and Coriolanus. Other directing assignments have been with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Players’ Theatre, Berkeley Jewish Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre and Marin Theatre Company. Local audiences will also be familiar with his acting work from appearances with the Marin Shakespeare Festival (Romeo and Juliet, The Spanish Tragedy) and the Marin Theatre Company (The Seafarer).
Lillian Groag (Playwright) is an American playwright, theater director, and actor. She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina to a Viennese father and an Italian mother. Her father had fled to Argentina in 1938 when Austria aligned itself with Nazi Germany. When Lillian was only 7 years old her family fled from Argentina to Montevideo, Uruguay, but this time they were fleeing from the military dictatorship. Her father would die 7 years later in Uruguay. Lillian was schooled in Catholic boarding schools in both Argentina and Uruguay her entire life until she came to Lake Forest College in Chicago
and the University of Dijon in France. She would later go on to earn masters and doctoral degrees in Romance Languages and Literature from Northwestern University.
A Message from the Director
After the horror of the events in Paris last week, I told my producer that I couldn’t think of a more difficult time to be putting on The Ladies of the Camellias. A play set in a theatre in Paris, in which the major action is initiated by a radical breaking into the building, armed with a gun and a bomb, and threatening to execute hostages until his demands are met; and yet which bills itself as a comedy—how could we possibly dare, in the climate of terror that has gripped our culture, to ask people to laugh at that?
There is an old saying in the theatre: “comedy is tragedy plus time.” Events that we experience as catastrophic in the immediate present will eventually, with the longer perspective of life experience and the ripening of events over time, recede in memory into a form that can be dealt with– looked back upon, with benefit of wisdom, as something in which we might even find humor.
A century ago, the Western world was terrorized—in a way we might find familiar—by the political movement of Anarchism. Though many leading proponents of the philosophy espoused nonviolence, a small fringe element grabbed the headlines with a campaign of assassination and bombing that precipitated the First World War (through the murder of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo) and led to the Great Red Scare in this country soon afterwards. The figure of the “bomb-and-whisker anarchist,” popularized by editorial cartoonists, became a caricature as potent and terrifying for our great-grandparents as the symbol of the fanatical jihadist has for our own time.
Not to disregard the national panic that events like these inspired in the long view, violence for political ends has come to be seen as pointless and destructive, and democratic values of tolerance, understanding and diversity can yet hope to prevail. “There is unspeakable sadness in the world,” Sarah Bernhardt remarks in this play; but also, “Life is everything.” And La Duse adds, “No idea backed up by death is a good idea.”
One comic focus of Ladies is the idea that show people are so self-absorbed, so fixated on the practice of their “art,” that they are oblivious to events in the real world outside the theatre walls. These are not the show people that we want to be. We mourn with the people of France for the brutal violence that has been visited upon them. But we look forward, with hope, to a time at which such terrible events may seem as distant as the turn of the twentieth century, and its own conflicts, seem to us.
In order of Appearance
A Girl Laine Flores
Benoit Wood Lockhart
Alexandre Dumas, Fils Geoffrey Colton
Sarah Bernhardt Michele Wolpe
Eleonora Duse Adrianna Dinihanian
Flavio Andó Francisco Arcila
Gustave Hippolite-Worms Frederick Lein
Ivan Mohammad Shehata
Benoit Constant Coquelin Liam Robertson
Presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc.
St. Mary’s College Performing Arts Department Center Repertory Company of Walnut Creek College of Marin Drama Department Jeffra Cook, Jan Koprowski, Igor, Bobby Cook
Director Julian López-Morillas
Producer Wood Lockhart
Stage Manager Maureen Scheuenstuhl
Set Design Michael R. Cook
Lighting Design Frank Sarubbi
Costume Design Michael A. Berg
Sound Design Billie Cox
Property Design Maureen Scheuenstuhl
Set Construction Ian Swift, Eugene De Christopher
Set Painter Dhyanis
Ass’t Stage Manager Maia Stevenson
Rehearsal Assistants Ann Armour, Maureen O’Donoghue
Light Operator & Sound Operator Maureen Scheuenstuhl
Graphic Design Mark Shepard
Program Consultant Suzie Hughes
Photography Robin Jackson
Publicist Hamilton Ink
Volunteer Coordinator Eleanor Prugh
Web Design Jayme Catalano