Sarah Ferris on HEDDA GABLER | Quotidian Theatre Company

Sarah Ferris

Sarah Ferris

Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of  Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen updates the action of the play to the socially relevant climate of D.C.’s Georgetown, 1963. The production opens Friday and runs October 24 – November 23. Sarah Ferris plays Thea Elvsted and has this to share about the complexity of her character and the play’s universal themes:

Being a preschool teacher, I’m always trying to find ways for my kiddos to connect; I want to encourage a connection with their friends, with their teachers, with their activities at school, with their own feelings and the feelings of those around them. And every day we sit in a circle, criss-cross-applesauce, and connect. So when they’re asked a question (it’s nice when they raise their hands to answer it, but when they don’t, that’s okay too) it usually goes something like, “Oh! I went to my grandma’s this weekend!” “Oh, me! Me! Me too! I went to my grandma’s, and saw my grandma and grandpa and played Pokemon!” “Oh! I like to play Pokemon! I love Pikachu!” “Hey! Pikachu starts with P like my name!” These associations would probably go on all morning long if the kids had it their way. Because just like us adults, they couldn’t help themselves! All my kids sit around and relate to one another through their stories and the shared experiences they’ve had so far in their little lifetimes. And when they find common ground, they are always so excited to continue to talk about it. They can’t get enough of it. And those moments, to me, feel like magic.

So in one of our very first read-throughs of Hedda Gabler, our director Michael Avolio asked all of us if we had experienced a time in our lives where we felt oppressed, trapped, stuck in a situation that we couldn’t get out of. What I remember about that moment was something like Michael essentially asking everyone to raise their hand (or maybe just head-nod) if they could relate to those feelings. I don’t know if that’s exactly how it happened, or if I only remember it that way because that’s what I do with my kiddos, but regardless of how we were asked the question, every single one of us could in fact relate. This experience is universal. And how incredible it is to dive head first into a character like Thea, whose seemingly naïve persona causes those around her to doubt her strength and resilience. Even at times her intelligence and will. But what I have found is that she is truly a remarkably strong, brave, and inspirational young woman that I have fallen in love with.

My grandmother used to talk to me about how all of us have many different “I”s inside of us. And sometimes those “I”s can come off as being hypocritical or can contradict each other. For instance, I’m an insecure woman and a confidant woman. I’m aggressively outgoing and at times I’m painfully shy (really, I can be). I can be a jealous person, a loving person, a gentle person, a calm person, a moody person, and on and on, perhaps to infinity, it goes. And now that I’ve been exploring Thea and many of her different “I”s, I’m moved by the many women I have met in her. There is no doubt that her energy and attitude create a stark contrast to Hedda. Thea is sweet, polite, and gentle. Her warmth can at times bring on the naïvete mentioned throughout the play and make her seem powerless, unaware, or smaller than the force of Hedda. But Thea has left a situation in her life where she has been stuck for years. She has been in a loveless marriage, playing the role of caretaker to everyone around her, and has finally left that part of her life to begin to take care of herself, and she has done it all on her own. A risk that is scary for anyone to take, whether it be in 1890 Norway, 1963 Georgetown, or 2014 anywhere. It takes guts, and I’ve loved going on this journey with her through all the mess and all the fear.

If there is one thing Thea has taught me, it is to remember to be bold. Some people might say, “Thea Elvsted? Bold?” because I think she has been misunderstood as quite the opposite. But I’m moved by her never-ending patience, her desire to follow through, and her growing accomplishment of going with her gut. Like Thea says, “I’m free now. It’s scary, but I’m free.” To which I say, “You go, girl!”

~Sarah Ferris

Hedda Gabler w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents
Hedda Gabler
by Henrik Ibsen
Oct 24 – Nov 23, 2014


The magnetic and mysterious Hedda, stifled by society’s conventions, has captivated audiences since she sprang from Ibsen’s imagination in 1890. Her perplexing machinations find the perfect home in Washington, D.C.’s politically-charged Georgetown of 1963 in this new adaptation by Michael Avolio.

This production, directed by Michael Avolio, features Katie Culligan as Hedda, Brian McDermott as George, Sarah Ferris as Thea, Francisco Reinoso as Judge Brack, Christian Sullivan as Elliott Lovborg, Laura Russell as Aunt Julia, and Kecia Campbell as Berta.

 Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, November 22.

Tickets are $30 regular price, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (email for reservations). Subscribers, email QTC or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Stephanie Mumford on HEDDA GABLER | Quotidian Theatre Company

Stephanie Mumford

Stephanie Mumford

Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of  Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen updates the action of the play to the socially relevant climate of D.C.’s Georgetown, 1963. The production runs October 24 – November 23. Quotidian co-founder, frequent actor, and resident costume designer Stephanie Mumford suggested the new setting, and writes here about how it suits Ibsen’s play. (This piece can also be read at DC Metro Theater Arts.)

Quotidian Theatre Company’s new season takes off with an updated version of Ibsen’s classic Hedda Gabler. “Onstage for almost every moment of the play — fruitlessly directing the action around her in an attempt to garner some control over her own constrained life — Ibsen’s Hedda is the archetypal trapped woman, a general’s daughter consigned by her own upper-middle-class domestic ambitions to marriage with a dull academic who cannot match her intensity, depth, and intelligence,” according to New York Magazine’s Matt Dobkin.

Director Michael Avolio has transported the action of the play from Oslo, Norway in 1890 to Georgetown, D.C. in 1963, the same year Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, her now-classic feminist treatise on the pervasive unhappiness of American housewives in the early 1960s. Like Friedan, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen was a strong advocate for women’s rights. In Hedda Gabler, as well as in A Doll’s House, Ibsen criticizes what he characterized as “an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint.”[i] Women have made great strides since Hedda first sprang from Ibsen’s imagination, but even today, let alone in 1963, male legislators are found trying to have a say in certain women’s issues.

For that reason alone, updating the play to the 1960s on the brink of the women’s movement seemed natural, as did re-locating its setting to the politically-charged Georgetown during President Kennedy’s administration. Placing the play in our own backyard just made it more accessible and relevant. Hedda’s husband George Tesman could teach at Georgetown University, the late WWII General Gabler could rest in peace at Arlington Cemetery, and the powerful, unctuous Judge Brack could spend his evenings partying at the home of journalist Joseph Alsop — a Georgetown bon vivant who was ringmaster of Camelot social life.

And then there are the ties to the highly-acclaimed, stylishly-retro TV series Mad Men… Parallels can be drawn between Ibsen’s deeply dissatisfied Hedda and Mad Men’s repressed housewife, Betty Draper, including their mutual facility with shotguns. And, as is the case with Mad Men anti-hero Don Draper, Hedda’s deeply flawed character and despicable actions fascinate us, while their own self-loathing and yearning for something better make it possible to sympathize with Hedda and Don.

~Stephanie Mumford

[i] Ibsen, “Notes for a Modern Tragedy”; quoted by Meyer (1967, 466)

Hedda Gabler w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents
Hedda Gabler
by Henrik Ibsen
Oct 24 – Nov 23, 2014


The magnetic and mysterious Hedda, stifled by society’s conventions, has captivated audiences since she sprang from Ibsen’s imagination in 1890. Her perplexing machinations find the perfect home in Washington, D.C.’s politically-charged Georgetown of 1963 in this new adaptation by Michael Avolio.

This production, directed by Michael Avolio, features Katie Culligan as Hedda, Brian McDermott as George, Sarah Ferris as Thea, Francisco Reinoso as Judge Brack, Christian Sullivan as Elliott Lovborg, Laura Russell as Aunt Julia, and Kecia Campbell as Berta.

 Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, November 22.

Tickets are $30 regular price, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (email for reservations). Subscribers, email QTC or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Don Slater on HEDDA GABLER | Quotidian Theatre Company

Don Slater

Don Slater

Quotidian Theatre Company’s production of  Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen updates the action of the play to the socially relevant climate of D.C.’s Georgetown, 1963. The production runs October 24 – November 23. Quotidian’s resident lighting designer Don Slater reflects on the project:

As we enter October, I find myself in the familiar position of planning the lighting for Quotidian Theatre Company’s fall show. Last year, it was the inimitable The Iceman Cometh, an enormous challenge wonderfully directed by Michael Avolio. Michael beautifully described the look of the show through a painting, McSorley’s Bar by John Sloan. With that image in front of me, I set out to paint a picture on the stage at The Writer’s Center. I think I succeeded in that effort.

"McSorley's Bar" by John French Sloan, 1912

McSorley’s Bar by John French Sloan, 1912

This year, Michael is again directing the fall show. He has taken the Norwegian classic, Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, and set it in Washington’s Georgetown neighborhood in 1963. Hedda is just as challenging a piece as Iceman, but for very different reasons. While the backroom at Harry Hope’s saloon is a warm and welcoming place to its inhabitants, the Tesman living room seems much more like a stage for Hedda’s performances.

From left: Danny Brooks as McGloin, Ted Schneider as Harry Hope, and John Decker as Jimmy Tomorrow in QTC's 2013 production of The Iceman Cometh, lit by Don Slater.

Lighting by Don Slater in Quotidian’s 2013 production of The Iceman Cometh. From left: Danny Brooks as McGloin, Ted Schneider as Harry Hope, John Decker as Jimmy Tomorrow. Photo by St. Johnn Blondell. Click to enlarge.

As a lighting designer, I am often faced with making the characters on the stage look as good as possible, using the light to provide them with color and depth. For Hedda, I will be trying to move in the opposite direction, with somewhat flatter lighting. I hope to emphasize the starkness of the play and calculating nature of its central character. At the same time, I will use elements of the light to show time of day and significance of place. If I am successful, the audience may recall it later.

As with all QTC shows, I try to keep the lighting as unobtrusive as possible. Most people don’t have fancy lighting in their houses; neither do our people.

~Don Slater

Hedda Gabler w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents
Hedda Gabler
by Henrik Ibsen
Oct 24 – Nov 23, 2014


The magnetic and mysterious Hedda, stifled by society’s conventions, has captivated audiences since she sprang from Ibsen’s imagination in 1890. Her perplexing machinations find the perfect home in Washington, D.C.’s politically-charged Georgetown of 1963 in this new adaptation by Michael Avolio.

This production, directed by Michael Avolio, features Katie Culligan as Hedda, Brian McDermott as George, Sarah Ferris as Thea, Francisco Reinoso as Judge Brack, Christian Sullivan as Elliott Lovborg, Laura Russell as Aunt Julia, and Kecia Campbell as Berta.

 Show times are 8pm Fridays and Saturdays, and 2pm Sundays, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, November 22.

Tickets are $30 regular price, $25 for seniors, and $15 for students, and can be purchased by cash or check at the door, online at Brown Paper Tickets, or by phone at 1-800-838-3006 ext 1 (ask for Quotidian Theatre Company). $15 per ticket for groups of 10 or more (email for reservations). Subscribers, email QTC or call 301-816-1023 for reservations.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD.
The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Quotidian Wishes Theater Lobby Actress, Champion of Small Theaters Jean Scott a Speedy Recovery | Quotidian Theatre Company

The Veil ensemble panorama

Jean Scott, who several years ago was presenting Theater Lobby awards at The Writer’s Center, severely injured herself there during Quotidian Theatre Company’s July 27th performance of Conor McPherson’s The Veil. We all wish her the best and a speedy recovery!

From the 1950s to 1972, Jean acted with D.C.’s Theater Lobby, which after its close became the champion of other small, non-profit theater companies from 1987 to 2006 by bestowing awards upon local actors, directors, designers, and other small non-profit theaters at an annual ceremony. In 1993, the Theater Lobby honored me, Stephanie Mumford, with its Mary Goldwater Award. It was one of the most meaningful recognitions of my theater career. I will never forget it. Continue reading

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The Veil closes Aug 17! | Quotidian Theatre Company

Veil 1 Post

Veil 2 MDTG

Veil 3 DCTS

Veil 4 BWW

Veil 5 DCMTA

The Veil w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents the U.S. premiere production of
THE VEIL
by Conor McPherson
July 18 – August 17, 2014

The New York Times calls Conor McPherson “the finest playwright of his generation”. Set in a haunted mansion in rural Ireland in 1822, surrounded by a restive, starving populace, The Veil weaves Ireland’s troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental, and the circularity of time.

Featuring Christine Alexander, Michael Avolio, Jane Squier Bruns, John Decker, Steve LaRocque, Chelsea Mayo, Stephanie Mumford, and Michele Osherow. Directed by Jack Sbarbori.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD. The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and students, and can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, August 16.

Subscribers, please contact quotidiantheatre@comcast.net or 301-816-1023 for reservations.

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The Veil’s soundtrack | Quotidian Theatre Company

 

Sarah Foard at Glen Echos Creek

Sarah Foard at Glen Echo’s Creek

Quotidian Theatre Company presents the US premiere of Conor McPherson’s The Veil, now through August 17. 

***

Violinist and Fiddler Sarah Foard Creates Her Own Sound for The Veil 

My violin instructor at the Levine School of Music, Sarah Foard, is not only the best violin teacher I have ever had, but an accomplished fiddle player who plays professionally with the Sligo Creek Stompers and other groups. Since beginning work with her a few years ago, she has been very kind to find the time in her busy schedule to perform with QTC, first in James Joyce’s The Dead as “the red-wigged fiddler,” the nickname she aptly came up with for her character, and most recently, at QTC’s May fundraiser with the other members of the Sligo Creek Stompers.

Sarah Foard (L) in James Joyce's The Dead

Sarah Foard (L) in James Joyce’s The Dead

So, when QTC wanted original renditions of standard Irish tunes for The Veil, I once again turned to Sarah, who worked her magic to create the haunting melodies we were seeking. I asked Sarah to write a couple of paragraphs about her process…

The music chosen for The Veil is an array of haunting and powerful Irish ballads. I was quite excited to learn this new repertoire on the violin and have the opportunity take the pieces to new places through the recordings used in Quotidian Theatre Company’s production.

For several of the pieces, I recorded multiple tracks, layering drones* and original harmonies under the melody. This gives the music an orchestral sound, yet because of the drones it maintains its roots in the Irish tradition. In the song “Fanny Power,” I used a theme-and-variation approach, and in “Lament for O’Donnell” and “The Coulin”, I decided to play them a cappella with only the melody voice and no harmonies, giving the songs a lonely and sparse feel.

*In music, a drone is a harmonic or monophonic effect or accompaniment where a note or chord is continuously sounded throughout most or all of a piece.

You can hear and purchase the soundtrack to The Veil here.

Sarah’s stunning rendition of “Trip to Sligo/Sligo Creek/Sligo Maid” is here.

Sign up to take lessons with Sarah at either the Levine School or her Arlington-based studio, L’Adore.

~Stephanie Mumford

***

The Veil w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents the U.S. premiere production of
THE VEIL
by Conor McPherson
July 18 – August 17, 2014

The New York Times calls Conor McPherson “the finest playwright of his generation”. Set in a haunted mansion in rural Ireland in 1822, surrounded by a restive, starving populace, The Veil weaves Ireland’s troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental, and the circularity of time.

Featuring Christine Alexander, Michael Avolio, Jane Squier Bruns, John Decker, Steve LaRocque, Chelsea Mayo, Stephanie Mumford, and Michele Osherow. Directed by Jack Sbarbori.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD. The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and students, and can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, August 16.

Subscribers, please contact quotidiantheatre@comcast.net or 301-816-1023 for reservations.

xxxxxxxxxxxx in The Veil

From left: Michele Osherow, Jane Squier Bruns, Stephanie Mumford, John Decker, and Steve LaRocque in The Veil. Photograph by St. Johnn Blondell.

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Conor McPherson on THE VEIL | Quotidian Theatre Company

Conor McPherson

Conor McPherson

Quotidian Theatre Company presents the US premiere of Conor McPherson’s The Veil, opening tomorrow, July 18, and running through August 17.

Playwright Conor McPherson says, “I was brought up as a Roman Catholic, so perhaps this is why I see supernatural stories as the most natural thing I can present on stage. I have always felt that the theatre is the perfect place to contemplate the unknown. I want the audience to dream their way into the play and out the other side only to arrive deeper inside themselves via their most powerful emotions. I want to invite the darkness that surrounds the stage onto the stage in order to illuminate all that is truly important to us. And something that feels important to me is that we recognize that the experience of being alive — and being conscious of being alive — is an unfathomable mystery. Life is a transcendental experience. It’s a mystery we should marvel at and celebrate.”

Read more of McPherson’s thoughts in this Evening Standard interview and in his piece for The Telegraph, and watch this video interview about the 2011 world premiere production at London’s National Theatre.

Previous blog posts about The Veil can be read here.

The Veil w textQuotidian Theatre Company presents the U.S. premiere production of
THE VEIL
by Conor McPherson
July 18 – August 17, 2014

The New York Times calls Conor McPherson “the finest playwright of his generation”. Set in a haunted mansion in rural Ireland in 1822, surrounded by a restive, starving populace, The Veil weaves Ireland’s troubled colonial history into a transfixing story about the search for love, the transcendental, and the circularity of time.

Featuring Christine Alexander, Michael Avolio, Jane Squier Bruns, John Decker, Steve LaRocque, Chelsea Mayo, Stephanie Mumford, and Michele Osherow. Directed by Jack Sbarbori.

All performances are held at The Writer’s Center: 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD. The venue is a short walk from the Bethesda Metro Station. There is free parking on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are $30, or $25 for seniors and students, and can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets.

Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm, with one additional 2pm performance on Saturday, August 16.

Subscribers, please contact quotidiantheatre@comcast.net or 301-816-1023 for reservations.

The Veil cast

The Veil cast: Christine Alexander, Michael Avolio, Jane Squier Bruns, John Decker,
Steve LaRocque,  Chelsea Mayo, Stephanie Mumford, and Michele Osherow.

 

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