Saturday, March 04, 2006

Women's history play, "Looking for Elizabeth" opens March 17 in North Adams

(Submitted by Bette Craig)

Looking for Elizabeth, a two-character play written by Bette Craig, will open at the Main Street Stage, 55 Main Street in North Adams, on March 17th. For reservations and information, telephone (413) 663-3240. Performances will be Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. through April 1st, with Sunday matinees on March 19th and April 2nd at 4:30 p.m. and a Thursday (pay what you wish) performance on March 23rd at 8 p.m. It's especially appropriate that the play will be performed during Women'ss History Month," says playwright Bette Craig, "Because 'Elizabeth' refers to Elizabeth Robins, an American actress/writer/suffragist who wrote one of the 20th Century's first works of feminist theory, Ancilla's Share, published in 1924." The play explores the intersections of art and politics and family obligations, as Elizabeth Robins talks about her early career in the theater (she toured with James OÿÿNeill and with Edwin Booth and Lawrence Barrett in the 1880ÿÿs and was the first person to perform Ibsen's Hedda Gabler in English in London in 1891) and her development of political consciousness. "It was not my original intention," continues the playwright, "but I wound up as a character in my own play, and I am playing the part. I spent quite a lot of time at the Fales Library at New York University, which has most of Elizabeth Robins' papers. I was intrigued to discover that Elizabeth's mother was mentally ill, as is my own mother. Elizabeth never acknowledged this publicly, but I knew from my own experience that it had to be a significant factor in her life. This wound up forming the core of the play."

New York City actress Mary Anisi, who has been working with Craig on the play for the last four years, will play Elizabeth Robins. Bruce MacDonald, Main Street Stage Artistic Director, is sharing direction with Chuck Portz, who played the father in Main Streetÿ's 2004 production of Proof. Both Craig and Portz have been part-time residents of South Williamstown since 1980. They produced (and Portz wrote and directed) the PBS American Playhouse version of Mary Wilkins Freeman's A Mistaken Charity which was filmed in the Berkshires in 1986. Craig's three previous plays, Working Our Way Down, I Just Wanted Someone to Know and A Peaceable Kingdom were produced by The Labor Theater in New York City and on tour. I Just Wanted Someone to Know, a documentary play about women's lives by Craig and Joyce L. Kornbluh was published by Smyrna Press.

(Posted for: Bette Craig (413) 458-5257


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