Diana- Two Different Views of Womanhood

Cicely Hamilton, playwright of Diana of Dobson’s (running now) was raised by foster parents. Her father was busy as a Captain in the Gordon Highlanders and her mother disappeared, assumed to have been committed to a mental institution. Is it because of the lack of her own mother that we do not learn about Diana’s mother in the play? We know about her father- Diana is dependent upon him, and it is due to his death that Diana is forced into the conditions we find her in. But when it comes to Diana’s mother, we know nothing.

Notwithstanding this, Diana of Dobson’s is a good choice of something to do this Mother’s Day with your mom.

In May of 1908 the first Mother’s Day celebration was held in Philadelphia, PA at a Methodist Church, leading to the holiday as we now know it. The organizer, Anna Jarvis, had conceived of the holiday as a way to honor the sacrifices mothers made for their children. She led a massive campaign to have Mother’s Day added to the national calendar by writing letters to newspapers and politicians. Her idea for the holiday was a day of personal celebration between mothers and families, along with church attendance and wearing a white carnation as a symbol.

That same year, only a few months earlier, Diana of Dobson’s premiered at the Kingsway Theatre in London. Cicely Hamilton’s play was also meant to honor women, though more to bring awareness to their living situation than to celebrate the unique nature of motherhood. The titular Diana is a free-willed, independent woman, determined to better her life.

Both Hamilton and Jarvis were women with strong views of how women were treated by society at large. Jarvis advocated for the addition of Mother’s Day as a national holiday because she thought most American holidays celebrated male achievements and that women deserved recognition as well. Hamilton is a well-known suffragist and feminist, her political views strongly evident in her plays.

Often, these two types of women – the kindly, strong mother and the free-spirited, career woman – are painted as opposites. Interestingly, though, in Roman mythology, one goddess, who shares the name of our production’s heroine, was patron to both types of women. 

That’s right, the goddess Diana, the virginal huntress, was also the goddess to whom pregnant women would pray for a healthy and easy childbirth. Why was the famously strong, single lady goddess connected with motherhood? Because of the inconsistency of mythology, there is no clear reason, though one theory is that because Diana was associated with the moon, which in turn is associated with women’s menstrual cycles, Diana became linked with childbirth. Another theory is that Diana acted as the midwife to her mother during the birth of her twin, Apollo.

For whatever reason, Diana and motherhood are connected. Yet in the modern mind, this is not how we think of Diana. The strong-willed woman who didn’t need a man is our more common association of her. It is surely this picture of Diana that Cecily Hamilton had in mind when creating her play. Her Diana proudly speaks her mind and wants a better life for herself. She is not content to be silent about the conditions in which she lives.

There is no one way to be a strong woman. Focusing on motherhood or on career, or trying to do both, depends upon the person. But this Sunday, we celebrate the strong women who are raising children and all of the sacrifices they make to ensure their children have the best lives possible. If you have the type of mother worth celebrating, bring her to the show or find another way to honor her this Mother’s Day.

 

Art Credit: Guillaume Seignac

Summer 2019 Antaeus Academy Classes

If you live in Los Angeles, the odds that you have, currently are, or plan to take an acting class would have bookies in Vegas reeling. However, if your interest in acting is primarily for the stage, as opposed to screen, that does put you in somewhat of a minority. In this glitzy town where film stars rise like bubbles in champagne, live theatre often takes a backseat to film. Yet, stage performance is where it all started; the skills necessary to be a great film or TV actor can be found in the classics. 

At Antaeus Academy, we offer a variety of classes, grounded in classic works, to teach the acting skills you need to succeed in the biz. Our moderators have years of training and practical work on stage and screen, so everyone from the most recent conservatory grad to a seasoned actor can learn here. The skills you learn in these classes will provide the foundation you need to be a strong actor whether you choose to pursue the stage or on-camera work. We have a variety of offerings, from Shakespeare to improv to new plays, and we are certain to have something for you this summer.

(Click on a class for more info)

It’s Alive! The Nuts and Bolts of Acting in New Plays- moderated by Emily Chase

Back In-Yer-Face Again: The Theatre of Discomfort- moderated by Rob Nagle

Shakespeare: From Page to Stage- moderated by Elizabeth Swain

Mastering the Master: The Incomparable Noël Coward- moderated by Kitty Swink

Summer Shakespeare Intensive- moderated by four Antaeus Company members

Under the Veil of Rejoicing: Being Human in the Plays of Strindberg, Chekhov & Ibsen- moderated by John Sloan

Voice, Presence, and Classical Text- moderated by Scott Ferrara

Advanced Improvisation: Looking at the Classics for Inspiration- moderated by Daniel Blinkoff

Auditions are required for first-time students. So, if you are intrigued and want to take a class (or three), make sure to sign up for an audition soon! We have one  audition date:

 Click here to sign up for an audition on May 25, 10am-1pm. 

Also available this summer for the first time- Success Teams! Previously offered only to Antaeus Company Members, we are extending the offer to our Academy students this summer. Led by company members who are experienced career coaches, these success teams will focus on creating plans to work both on your craft of acting and the business side. Through weekly meetings over 10 weeks, you will meet with like-minded artists, share strategies, and hold each other accountable to work hard and progress in your acting career.

Two sessions available:

Online team meets Mondays 1-3pm,  May 6 – July 8.

In-person team meets Tuesdays 8-10am,  May 7 – July 9

If you have any questions, visit our FAQ page or email academy@antaeus.org. 

 

Healing Through Art

For the past three years, Antaeus has partnered with the Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance (ADAA) to present an evening that commemorates the anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Last night we presented Triumph of the Armenian Spirit, which showcased excerpts from four new Armenian plays.

Serving as a partner to our local community is central to the Antaeus mission. We believe that theater is a profoundly social act, which is inherent in the way that we all experience it. The actors are not on a screen; you’re not watching with your earbuds in while you sit on the bus. The actors and audience share the same space. When we watch a piece of theater, we are sharing it and living it at the same moment as the stranger sitting next to us and the performer on stage.

Partnering with the ADAA, a not-for-profit Armenian organization for film and theatre, is particularly meaningful for us as members of the Glendale community. Armenians make up somewhere between 30-40% of the Glendale population. The influence of the Armenian population is evident across the city. One can see the Armenian flag waving from cars as they drive down Broadway. Armenian lettering adorns everything from churches to auto repair shops. Armenian businesses, schools, churches, and art abound.

For all that, though, your only familiarity with the Armenian culture may be the Kardashians (and maybe you didn’t even know that.) Which is fine. But, that is why we choose to partner with the ADAA on this event. We think it is important to illuminate diverse human experiences through performance, and we have a platform from which to do it.

The Armenian community, like many in the U.S., came here after facing persecution around the rest of the world. Though Armenian Christians have faced persecution throughout history, the biggest threat to their lives came in the early 20th century from the Ottoman Turks. From 1915-16, about 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered in a genocide.

Into this place of sadness and pain comes art. Art and theater play an integral role in the healing process; they allow stories from the past to live on and be shared with the future. The show was called Triumph of the Armenian Spirit because death and sadness do not define the Armenian experience. Though plagued by troubles, from Turkey to the USSR, the Armenian people have survived and flourished. Here in Glendale, where over 80,000 Armenians reside, we are so proud to play our small part in helping this identity thrive. 

The Armenian Dramatic Arts Alliance is celebrating its 14th operating year! Learn more about the ADAA here.

Photo credit: Karin Armen

St. Joan, Notre Dame, and George Bernard Shaw

In 1456, Isabelle Romée submits an impassioned plea to clear her daughter, Joan’s, name at a trial held 25 years after her death at Notre Dame Cathedral.

On April 18, 1909, Joan of Arc is beatified by Pope Pius X at Notre Dame Cathedral.

On April 15, 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral suffers devastating damage from a fire.

On April 21, 2019, Antaeus presents St. Joan by George Bernard Shaw as part of our Classic Sundays readings.

We have been examining Joan of Arc’s life and her depictions in classic plays throughout our Classic Sundays readings this year. Joan herself was not connected to Notre Dame. In fact, she probably never saw it, as it was her failed attempt to reclaim Paris which began her fall from grace.

Yet a statue of Joan resides (or, perhaps now, resided) in Notre Dame. So when our reading commences this Sunday, it will be with the burning of Notre Dame in the back of everyone’s minds.

Theatre is a living art. At Antaeus we know this particularly well. We continue to produce classic plays, from Shakespeare to Shaw, because what those playwrights wrote are plays about human nature, which resonate no matter when or where they are produced.

Theatre lives even beyond that. Not just each production but each performance is affected by the outside world or the artists involved with the show. A person in a new relationship approaches Romeo and Juliet differently than someone recently broken up. Measure for Measure speaks to a world inflamed by the #MeToo movement.

Joan of Arc’s story was relevant despite the recent devastation of Notre Dame. A person sticking to her religious convictions despite skepticism and who defies those who attempt to silence her is relevant today. There is a special significance brought about by the burning of Notre Dame which nobody could have foreseen, but which will certainly be in the minds of the artists and audience this Sunday.

At Antaeus we attempt to produce relevant, timely classics. As Notre Dame is rebuilt it will continue to give new life and resonance to a century-old play by George Bernard Shaw and the heroine who inspired him.

 

Photo source: A New Chapter in the Story of Joan of Arc’s Ring

Antaeus announces 2018/19 Season of Four Modern Classics

GLENDALE, Calif. (June 22, 2018) — Antaeus Theatre Company has announced four modern classics by American, Irish, British and German playwrights for its 2018/19 season at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale.

Opening the season in October, Cameron Watson, who helmed Antaeus’ 2017 multiple award-winning revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, will return to direct another epic drama about a Southern family in crisis: Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes. In a small Alabama town circa 1900, members of a decaying family battle society and one another for their continued place of prominence and authority amid changing times and the encroachment of outside forces. (Oct. 25 through Dec. 10, 2018; Previews begin Oct. 18)

In January, Steven Robman will direct The Cripple of Inishmaan by Martin McDonagh. Inspired by the real-life filming of the documentary Man of Aran, McDonagh’s dark comedy is set on the small Aran Islands community of Inishmaan (Inis Meáin) off the Western Coast of Ireland in 1934, where the inhabitants are excited to learn of a Hollywood film crew's arrival in neighboring Inishmore (Inis Mór) to make a documentary about life on the islands. “Cripple” Billy Claven, eager to escape the gossip, poverty and boredom of Inishmaan, vies for a part in the film, and to everyone's surprise, the orphan and outcast gets his chance... or so some believe. (Jan. 24 through March 11, 2019; Previews begin Jan. 17)

Spring will bring a rare revival of Diana of Dobson’s, a biting comedy by Cicely Hamilton that was the unexpected hit of the 1908 London theater season. Casey Stangl is set to direct Hamilton’s clever, thought-provoking romantic comedy about a fiercely intelligent Edwardian shop assistant who briefly escapes a life of drudgery with a small legacy — but who cannot escape the social and economic stricturesthat oppress her. (April 18 through June 3, 2019; Previews begin April 11)

The season will wind up in July with The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht in an acclaimed translation byAlistair Beaton, directed by Stephanie Shroyer. Deep in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, a humble kitchen maid named Grusha risks her life to rescue an abandoned baby from civil war. But when the child’s aristocratic mother returns to claim him, the entire social order of a corrupt and violent world is put on trial. (July 11 through Aug. 26, 2019; Previews begin July 5)

“Each of these plays explores themes of lies, truth and deception,” note Antaeus co-artistic directors Bill Brochtrup, Rob Nagle and Kitty Swink in a joint statement. “Are things what they appear to be? Are people who and what they say they are? What is true and what is false? These questions have never been more pertinent than right now.”

In addition to these fully staged productions, Antaeus is excited to announce first-time programming in its black box space, including a Playwrights Lab reading series and Classic Sundays, a monthly series of staged readings.

As an added bonus for its patrons, Antaeus is offering a “sneak-peek” into its plans for 2019/20, announcing now that the following season will include Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare, directed by longtime company member Tony Amendola.

Antaeus is a cooperative theater ensemble founded to empower the actor and to bring classical theater to Southern California. The company exists to create a family of artists and audiences and is dedicated to exploring stories with enduring themes. Taking their company name from the Titan who gained strength by touching the Earth, Antaeus members — many of whom are familiar to film and television audiences — regain their creative strength by returning to the wellspring of their craft: live theater. Members of the company span a wide range of age, ethnicity and experience; they have performed on Broadway, at major regional theaters across the country, in film, television and on local stages, and are the recipients of numerous accolades and awards.

The Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center complements Glendale’s ongoing commitment to integrate vibrant arts space into the fabric of city life, ensuring the arts remain accessible to all. Located just a few blocks away from The Americana at Brand and the remodeled Glendale Central Library as well as the Alex Theatre, the center promises to build upon Glendale’s growing reputation as an arts and entertainment destination. The center includes an 80-seat theater, a reconfigurable 45-seat performance/classroom space, and a theater classics library.

For more information about Antaeus Theatre Company, call 818-506-5436 or visit online at www.antaeus.org.

Help Our Students Thrive

Creating a space where actors can continue to explore their craft and take risks is so important to our community of artists. That is why in 2002, we created The Antaeus Academy, a place where artists could spend time developing essential techniques and fine tuning their skills amongst a community of respected professionals.

Today, our Academy serves over 240 artists each year, creating a thriving community where skills, work ethic, and inspiration are not just taught but “passed down.”

Help our students THRIVE by making a gift to the Antaeus Academy this Holiday Season.
 

A Letter From Harry Groener

My name is Harry Groener. You may be familiar with my work in theater, television or film. If you don’t know me, you can search for me online and see that my passion for the arts started in a ballet company in San Francisco and has continued from Broadway to Broadway – Broadway and Brand that is. I am talking about Antaeus Theatre Company which resides in the new Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center in Glendale. I am reaching out to you and encouraging you to support this company that I am so proud to be part of. From the time Dakin Matthews and Lillian Garrett-Groag gathered some L.A. actors together and began the journey from borrowed rooms and fax machines at The Taper Annex to a warehouse, and tiny spaces in NOHO, to our shiny new digs in Glendale, we have pursued preservation of existing classics and the search for new ones.

I am a proud Founding Member. However, in 2004 I had an epiphany regarding my home theater and my relationship to it. My wife Dawn Didawick and I performed in a production of Chekhov x 4 in The Bear and for me it was like coming back to the well. There was a kind of renewal as an artist that reignited my passion for theater and my commitment to Antaeus as an actor and an audience. I wanted to help my company grow and thrive. I get to do that by having the privilege of performing in iconic roles such as King Lear and Big Daddy in last year’s award-winning production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. I get to do that by serving as a Board Member. I get to do that by being an Ambassador for Antaeus all around the country as I work in other theaters and cities. I get to do that by reaching out to you today to ask you to contribute to a theater company devoted to bringing you world-class theater, to bringing arts and education programs to our community at William Tell Aggeler Opportunity High School, Homeboy Industries, New Village Girls Academy, and Hoover High School, and to training theater artists in our Academy who want to hone the skills necessary to accomplish the tasks that classical theater requires of its actors. I chose well when I put my passion to work for Antaeus.  

I hope you will join me by supporting us as an audience member and as a donor through a contribution today. I do, and I know that my donation is supporting all of the above and more. Give your regards to Broadway and Brand in any way you can by supporting Antaeus Theatre Company.

Sincerely,
Harry Groener

Help Us Find the Next Great Classic

Antaeus’ Playwrights Lab is looking for the next great classic, but a great play is not created overnight. A playwright needs a supportive environment where they can question, break apart, and put back together their work again and again. That is why each week, Antaeus actors collaborate with select Los Angeles-based playwrights to develop new work, giving them a rare chance to collaborate in real time.

The playwrights are able to hear their plays read aloud by some of the most talented actors in Los Angeles.
In 2017 alone, the Antaeus Playwrights Lab workshopped over 35 new plays.

Help our Playwrights Lab CREATE essential new work by making a donation today.