" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2020-03-06 13:21:43" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["post_title"]=> string(15) "Ellida's Choice" ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["slug"]=> string(14) "ellidas-choice" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1642540801:6" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "6" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["article_description"]=> string(165) "How is Ellida similar to other Ibsenian heroines? Learn about the choice she's faced with in THE LADY FROM THE SEA and how she navigates society's gendered confines." ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(58) "By Carissa Villagomez, Marketing and Communications Intern" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13854" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_estimated-reading-time-minutes"]=> string(1) "6" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-03-06 19:21:43" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(14) "ellidas-choice" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2022-01-18 15:20:00" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2022-01-18 21:20:00" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.courttheatre.org/?p=13850" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "publish" } [1]=> object(Timber\Post)#3635 (51) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(13) { ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1642541091:6" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "6" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13802" ["article_description"]=> string(86) "Ibsen scholar Dr. Ruth Schor reflects on the role of choice in the playwright's canon." ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(10) "Ruth Schor" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["_yoast_wpseo_estimated-reading-time-minutes"]=> string(1) "6" } ["___content":protected]=> NULL ["_permalink":protected]=> NULL ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(13795) ["ID"]=> int(13795) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_content"]=> string(10677) "

Ruth Schor, an Ibsen scholar, focuses on modern drama, theatre and cultural history with particular emphasis on Ibsen and the German-speaking avant-garde. She provides her own perspective on THE LADY FROM THE SEA, providing context about the role of choice in this play and other works by the Norwegian playwright. 

“My consolation in moments of spiritual anguish is The Lady from the Sea,” the famous Italian actress Eleonora Duse writes to a friend at the beginning of the twentieth century, “she is beautiful and comforting - ever-changing, like the sea itself.” With this assessment, Duse gets to the heart of the play's problem: is the protagonist, Ellida, free, and if so, what kind of freedom does she have? After a celebrated success playing in and producing Ibsen’s Rosmersholm, Duse embarks on another journey to seek an understanding of Ellida’s freedom. But the translation she has does not suffice and she crosses out the word “choice” and replaces it with the word “decision.” With this small edit, Duse was coming to grips with a central question that dominates discussions about The Lady from the Sea to the present day. Is the freedom to decide true emancipation, or does it lead the woman, as wife, right back into the confinement of marriage? After all, the play has little of the dramatic resistance to domestic life that can be found in other Ibsen plays. This play's “happy ending” is a rarity. Preceded by Rosmersholm and succeeded by none other than Hedda Gabler, The Lady from the Sea has caused puzzlement over its appeasing tone since it was first performed. What makes this woman capable of converting the weight of her past into a source of transformation without escaping? 

Lou Andreas-Salomé, one of Ibsen’s contemporaries, published a book about Ibsen’s heroines from Nora to Hedda in 1892. She finds an explanation in Ellida and Dr. Wangel’s mutual ability to “consider the other’s needs” and attributes an equally healing quality to the re-connection between Ellida and Hilde, Wangel’s child from the previous marriage. If we take this explanation seriously, does Ellida’s story then suggest that reconciliation is the true goal, and in fact there was hope for some of Ibsen‘s previous heroines? In short, the play calls into question the actions of other heroines. Why did Hedda Gabler have to crush that same hope? Are we meant to reconsider Nora’s exit in A Doll’s House? These are only some of the unresolved questions Andreas-Salomé leaves us with. 

Anna Bloch as Hilde in THE LADY FROM THE SEA.

Despite its more conventional plot, The Lady from the Sea does join Ibsen’s other plays in its openness to ambiguity. Similar to A Doll’s House, The Lady from the Sea presents its audience with an outcome that seems conclusive, and yet, leaves just enough inconclusive openings to fuel the imagination about what might come next. In The Lady from the Sea, this question mark is brought to us by the next generationthrough Bolette’s subplot, a marriage of convenience in exchange for an education. And most decisively, in The Master Builder, a play Ibsen published four years after The Lady from the Sea, the same Hilde Wangel appears as a young temptress in her twenties who has escaped her father’s “cage” with no mention of a stepmother.

At this point, even Lou Andreas-Salomé needed to reconsider. A few months after her book came out in 1892, The Master Builder was published. She hastily writes a review admitting that the re-appearance of Hilde Wangel sheds new light on the ending of The Lady from the Sea. A century later, Susan Sontag takes the significance of Hilde Wangel’s return even further. Her adaptation for Robert Wilson’s famous production concludes with a sense of unease about the domestication of this sea creature. Ibsen, she claims, made Hilde Wangel reappear in the later play, when he developed second thoughts about The Lady from the Sea. Originally titled The Mermaid, Sontag says, the play draws on a folkloric theme about untamable sea creatures that do not belong on dry land. 

Whichever interpretation one might be drawn to, it is evident that The Lady from the Sea, and moreover Ibsen’s plays in general, continue to generate a sense of mystery and curiosity by remaining in constant conversation with each other. It is arguably one of Ibsen’s most distinct talents to ensure an audience never gets too comfortable. As he expressed it himself, his works can only be understood when read in their entirety when read as part of an ongoing series. Ibsen perfectly timed this series by publishing a new play every two years just in time for the Christmas season. By the time he wrote The Lady from the Sea, the arrival of the plays had become a national sensation in his native Norway.

Living in Munich at the time, amidst a milieu of theatre-makers, cultural innovators and thinkersmany women amongst themIbsen’s plays fueled discussions at coffee houses and literary salons like few others. It is therefore the continuation of this Ibsenian journey to ask ourselves where this play could be taking us today, and how it makes us reconsider our own sense of freedom. Just as we become comfortable with this interpretative direction, Ibsen’s notes on The Lady from the Sea take us in yet another direction. Perhaps the play is a prelude to a different humanity entirely. He writes: “Has the path of human development taken the wrong direction? How did we come to belong on dry earth? Why not the air? Why not the ocean?”     


Court's production of The Lady from the Sea begins February 25, 2022. Learn more and buy tickets →

Ruth Schor completed her PhD at the University of Oxford and subsequently worked as Associate Professor at the Centre for Ibsen Studies, University of Oslo. Her research focuses on modern drama, theatre and cultural history with particular emphasis on Ibsen and the German-speaking avant-garde. She is currently completing a monograph on the significance of Ibsen's work in creating an avant-garde culture in Munich and Berlin for which she received a Martin Buber Fellowship. Her chapter on the German Ibsen reception will shortly be published in the volume Ibsen in Context by Cambridge University Press. She is also a theatre practitioner and has worked with a number of international theatre companies.

 

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The work of one of modernism’s central figures is prime material for various adaptations. With the play’s enduring themes, filmmakers around the world have seized the chance to direct their own rendition of The Lady from the Sea. Adaptations provide insight into the changing perceptions of the play and how a piece of theatre can withstand the test of time to continue enrapturing audiences. 

In 1954, an Argentine production of The Lady from the Sea, called La Dama del Mar, went to the silver screen. In 1922, an Italian production La Donna del Mare was also created. This far-reaching presence of Ibsen betrays the enduring relevance of his plays. This work has also been adapted for other mediums, such as the ballet Kvinnan från havet from choreographer Birgit Cullberg. Soaring operatic works have appeared at festivals from Scotland to China. The sci-fi movie Star Quest directed by Vic Alexander is also loosely based on the play, featuring a woman from the stars who comes to Earth and marries a scientist but is forced to choose between two paths when a figure from her past returns.

Planet Ibsen is a dramatic film adaptation centering around Ibsen’s infamous rivalry with August Strindberg. It takes the figure of Strindberg and plops him in one of Ibsen’s own plays with the ultimatum that he must rewrite it in order to change his life in reality. The film plays with themes found in Ibsen’s works, such as the nature of choice and its consequences. Carl Gottlieb, the co-screenwriter of the film Jaws, even once claimed that he and Spielberg drew inspiration for the blockbuster from Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People.

The motifs of this play connect audiences of entirely different backgrounds in a thoughtful examination of the social institutions that inevitably bind them together. The complexities of relationship dynamics and cultural pressures on the individual remain relevant points of modern-day discourse, ensuring the continued presence of Ibsen in the academic field and beyond.  

As for Ibsen the person, the controversial figure went into a self-imposed exile to Italy after finding extreme dissatisfaction with his life in Norway, despite his professed love for the country. He did eventually return, though nearly three decades later. He is considered the father of modernist theatre, and with this title comes the adulation of both him and his works. In 2006, a puppet play about the playwright called The Death of Little Ibsen premiered and was even performed that same year at the International Ibsen Festival of Norway.

The legacy of Ibsen’s works continues to touch the stage and beyond. This palpable permanence and the gravity of his motifs ensure that his plays remain relevant and performed throughout the world. Audiences continue to be enraptured by the nuanced characters and lasting effects of Ibsen on media, as exemplified by plays like The Lady from the Sea and countless others.


Ready to dive into The Lady from the Sea? Begins February 25, 2022. Learn more →

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Henrik Ibsen was a Norwegian playwright in the 19th century who became well-known throughout the world for his significant influence on decades of authors and playwrights after him. Considered the father of realism, he holds a place in history as a founder of modernism in theatrical works. His plays, often considered quite controversial when published in the morally stringent 19th century, were and continue to be widely discussed beyond just an academic setting. 

The Lady from the Sea was written in 1888, inspired by the Danish ballad Agnete og Havmanden. In the ballad, a young woman named Agnete meets a merman who rises from the sea and promptly offers a marriage between them. She goes with him, embarking on a domestic journey underneath the waves as she and her husband make a new family of seven children. However, one day she hears the church bells from above the water and decides to revisit her homeland. Upon returning, she decides to leave her underwater family forever and once again live on land. The tale is so famous that underwater artwork depicting Agnete’s abandoned family was installed in Denmark. Although Ibsen drew inspiration from it, the tale of Ellida Wangel is significantly different, yet just as enduring for its powerful motifs and a marked departure from Ibsen’s typical characterization. Motifs of free will, marriage, and the necessity of reconciling dreams with reality permeate the play and their presence ensures it remains startlingly relevant no matter the time period. 

[caption id="attachment_13751" align="alignnone" width="800"] Scene from a 1901 production of THE LADY FROM THE SEA in Berlin.[/caption]

Ibsen is a figure who led a remarkable life himself. The man who would go on to produce works that are often only outperformed by Shakespeare was born in the Norwegian town of Skien to an opulent household, though this material prosperity disappeared so that the rest of his childhood and part of his adult life was spent in poverty. His natural talent burgeoned in the face of his responses to the social and political occurrences of the time. Events of his own life, such as his political activism, his eventual self-imposed exile, his affairs with younger women, and his eventual marriage to another woman all influenced his plays. The beauty of the Norwegian landscape and local tales also captivated him. His mystique even captured the imagination of artist Edvard Munch, whose paintings hosted subject matter that was markedly influenced by Ibsen’s characters.

Upon its release, The Lady from the Sea was considered less shocking in comparison to Ibsen’s other plays. However, as Ibsen was notable for doing, the play still challenged the state of Norwegian society at the time, focussing on themes other playwrights overlooked, such as marital unfulfillment, the life of an artist, and grappling with stifling social expectations when trying to formulate one’s individual identity. In the modern-day, Ibsen fanatics and the newly-initiated can all recognize Lady as a moving and powerful testament to theatre’s ability to critique and change social norms.


The Lady from the Sea hits Court's stage February 25, 2022. Learn more and save your seats →

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August Wilson’s Two Trains Running

Directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson Performance Dates: September 3 - October 4, 2020 Amidst the Civil Rights Movement, Memphis Lee’s restaurant is slated for demolition. While Memphis fights to sell his diner for a fair price, the rest of the restaurant’s regulars search for work, love, and justice as their neighborhood continues to change in unpredictable ways. Two Trains Running explores Black identity in the 1960s with passion, humor, and prescience, demonstrating why Wilson is one of America’s most essential voices. With his singular point of view, Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson directs the penultimate play in Court’s ongoing commitment to staging all of Wilson’s American Century Cycle.

Violet

Music by Jeanine Tesori Book and Lyrics by Brian Crawley Based on The Ugliest Pilgrim by Doris Betts Directed by Charles Newell Music Direction by Tom Vendafreddo Performance Dates: November 5 - December 6, 2020 In 1964, a young Southern woman travels to Oklahoma, hoping that a televangelist will perform a miracle to heal the physical scars that have destroyed her confidence. On her pilgrimage, she meets a soldier who holds the promise of a different path to happiness. Based on Doris Betts’ short story, Violet is brought to life with a complex score of folk, gospel, and blues anthems from Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Caroline, or Change). Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, helms this musical about faith and the true nature of beauty.

Antigone

by Sophocles Directed by Seret Scott Performance Dates: January 21 - February 21, 2021 In the aftermath of a civil war, Creon shames the rebel Polynices by leaving him unburied on the battlefield. In defiance of the Theban ruler, Antigone plans to bury her brother’s body, risking her life in the process. With intellect and unstinting vision, director Seret Scott stages Sophocles’ exploration of notions of justice. Antigone concludes Court’s Oedipus Trilogy, which ambitiously linked three ancient Greek dramas to bridge cultures, cities, and communities. 

Fen

by Caryl Churchill Directed by Vanessa Stalling Performance Dates: March 18 - April 18, 2021 On the foggy fens of England, the ghosts of the past haunt the women laboring in the fields. Seizing on a new relationship as a potential path to escape, Val leaves the stultifying constraints of work and family behind, only to be confronted with the repercussions of her decision. Employing astonishing theatrical imagery, Caryl Churchill’s Fen interrogates issues of gender, class, and exploitation with grace, humor, and anger. Jeff Award-winning director Vanessa Stalling (Photograph 51) returns to Court Theatre to bring her striking clarity and fresh perspective to the play that won Churchill the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

Othello

by William Shakespeare Adapted and Directed by Charles Newell Performance Dates: May 13 - June 13, 2021 Othello, the great Venetian general, unknowingly seals his fate when he fails to select his standard-bearer, Iago, for a military promotion. Implicating Othello’s wife, Desdemona, in an affair, Iago sets forth a series of irreversible events that spell catastrophe for Othello and his country. Kelvin Roston, Jr. and Timothy Edward Kane who sparred in Oedipus Rex return to Court to star in this intimate new take on Shakespeare’s tragedy about jealousy, ego, and betrayal. Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director Charles Newell combines Shakespeare’s words with exhilarating movement and elements of the 16th-century story by Cinthio that inspired Othello, crafting a production that physicalizes the poetry of the original text with raw immediacy.
2020/21 Season Subscriptions are now available for both new and renewing subscribers." ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2020-02-03 17:58:46" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["post_title"]=> string(29) "Announcing Our 2020/21 Season" ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["slug"]=> string(29) "announcing-our-2020-21-season" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_edit_lock"]=> string(13) "1619465290:12" ["_edit_last"]=> string(2) "12" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["article_description"]=> string(67) "Presenting a season that showcases a cadre of prolific playwrights." ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(0) "" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "17" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(0) "" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1581160848" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "15923" ["_yoast_wpseo_estimated-reading-time-minutes"]=> string(0) "" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-02-03 23:58:46" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(29) "announcing-our-2020-21-season" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2021-04-26 14:30:28" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2021-04-26 19:30:28" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.courttheatre.org/?p=13466" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "publish" } [5]=> object(Timber\Post)#3641 (54) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(16) { ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1579297585:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13359" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "60" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["article_description"]=> string(89) "Find out what you shouldn't do if you find yourself in an Agatha Christie murder mystery!" ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(58) "By Carissa Villagomez, Marketing and Communications Intern" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_wp_old_date"]=> string(10) "2020-01-09" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1579384759" } ["___content":protected]=> NULL ["_permalink":protected]=> NULL ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(13358) ["ID"]=> int(13358) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_content"]=> string(3386) "With her play The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie presented what would become a classic murder mystery, brimming with suspicion and paranoia as every possible suspect turns against one another and no one is safe from their past. She also constructed an amazingly accurate guide on exactly what someone should not do if they find themselves as a suspect in a murder investigation. From running away to breaking down about how you never meant to do something, all the characters exhibit some outward sign of guilt that points to them. Based on the characters' reactions, we compiled a list of things you probably don't want to do if you are innocent but find yourself under scrutiny in an Agatha Christie murder mystery. *Please note this does not constitute formal legal advice and is only inspired by this magnificent tale of Christie’s. Confused, Hands, Up, Unsure, Perplexed, Young Don't Say Cryptic Stuff Don’t bring up things relating to the case. If the murderer is known for being obsessed with Three Blind Mice, don’t start singing it randomly as you enter a room. Don’t reply in a weird, insinuating way to people’s comments and then laugh maniacally.   man running on road near grass field Don't Flee Running away is sometimes a sign of guilt. If you are innocent, then you do not need to flee from the accusations. It’s a stressful situation, we know, but just breathe and stand your ground. Unless you might be the next murder victim. Then maybe consider leaving. Long, Nose, Lying, Emoticon, Face, Eyes, Yellow Don't Lie Lying makes everything worse. It’s an age-old adage, and it remains pertinent in this situation. Don’t give vague answers like you were brushing your hair in your room when you obviously weren’t and then proceed to get huffy about it.  Man, Fashion, Model, Fashion Man, Sunglasses, Cool Don't Mock the Investigation This attitude tends to make you seem like you feel superior to the investigation and that vocalized disrespect attracts a lot of attention. While a murder investigation can be stressful, it's important to not lose your cool. Keep the above tips in mind and you'll be able to maintain your innocence with ease." ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2020-01-17 15:48:46" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["post_title"]=> string(45) "What (Not) To Do When You're a Murder Suspect" ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["slug"]=> string(42) "what-not-to-do-when-youre-a-murder-suspect" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1579297585:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13359" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "60" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["article_description"]=> string(89) "Find out what you shouldn't do if you find yourself in an Agatha Christie murder mystery!" 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["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(51) "By Derek Matson, THE MOUSETRAP Production Dramaturg" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_wp_old_date"]=> string(10) "2020-01-15" } ["___content":protected]=> NULL ["_permalink":protected]=> NULL ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(13384) ["ID"]=> int(13384) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_content"]=> string(17418) " The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie is the longest continuously running play in the history of commercial Western theater, having officially opened in London on November 25, 1952, in a production that, after more than 28,000 performances, runs to this very day. Christie wrote her first version of the story on a commission from the BBC for a new radio play to honor the 80th birthday of King George VI’s mother, Queen Mary, in May 1947. Titling it Three Blind Mice, she reworked the script into a novella, published in Cosmopolitan in 1948, then wrangled it back into a play, expanding it to its current length. Before it opened, she renamed it The Mousetrap in a winking reference to the play-within-a-play in Hamlet. [caption id="attachment_13279" align="alignright" width="252"] Agatha Christie, 1925[/caption] Box-office records for The Mousetrap have done little to secure Agatha Christie critical esteem. In venerable precincts of established criticism and scholarship, Christie’s works, more often than not, have been written off, even derided, as middlebrow, formulaic, conservative, or just for fun. Alison Light calls attention to the unusual intensity of this animus in her landmark book Forever England from 1991: “There is something about Agatha Christie... which seems to mark her out for an especially cold shoulder and the particularly gratuitous insult. It may be respectable to write about Conan Doyle or even Raymond Chandler but Christie remains beyond the pale, the producer of harmless drivel, an unsuitable case for a critic.”[1] A decade later, Susan Rowland echoes Light’s observation in her book about British women writers of detective fiction, noting that, despite having “enchanted millions of readers,” there has been an “inverse relationship” between the enormous popularity of these women writers and the serious critical attention they’ve been given.[2] Rowland sees this lack of engagement with such profoundly influential works as simply “astonishing,” and she expresses mystification at “the refusal to treat these authors as literary artists.”[3] Critical disregard for Christie’s plays has been even more glaring than for her novels. Her contributions to the theater are mostly elided in canonical histories and anthologies of the 20th-century British stage or are, at best, addressed with a quick, embarrassed mention of her work en passant.[4] Theater scholarship would seem to either discount her as a populist interloper or apologize for her as not really a playwright. For their part, scholars of detective fiction who actually do take her writing more seriously tend to brush past her plays, waving them off as ungainly, embodied adaptations of novels that are really best read at home.[5] [caption id="attachment_13396" align="alignleft" width="413"] A plaque memorializing Agatha Christie in London's West End.[/caption] Even so, Christie’s achievements in the theater are nothing short of monumental. She wrote more than 20 plays, and she is the only woman to have ever had three plays running simultaneously on London’s West End.[6] The Mousetrap alone has been presented in 50 different countries and in 27 languages.[7] Agatha Christie is, in the summation of theater producer Julius Green, “the most successful female playwright of all time.”[8] Such accomplishments demand “more complex explanations than that people like a good yarn, or a neat puzzle,” to quote Christie scholar Gillian Gill,[9] and the cultural significance of Christie’s theatrical output deserves serious consideration, free from biases related to gender or genre. Denying that true artistry and literary excellence have played a role in Christie’s prodigious success is mere fatuousness, or else insufferable elitism. Like all masterly playwrights, Christie was an astute observer of people, and she crafted a unique style of dialogue with idiosyncratic rhythms that were hers alone. She was a sophisticated chronicler of the rapidly changing world around her, and built into her stories are morally nuanced cultural commentaries. The genre that she came to define, the English country house murder, in which staid, upper-middle-class comfort is shattered by violence and mayhem, offered Christie the perfect vehicle for tapping into social anxieties that circulated all around her, about class, desire, gender, nationhood, and justice. Devoted readers like cultural historian Jacques Barzun and poet W. H. Auden have held her stories up as classical parables that speak to deep-seated, inarticulable fears and yearnings of her readers and audiences.[10] This ability of popular art to “tap into the collective unconscious,” Gill argues, is what makes stories like Christie’s so compelling to us, and so irresistible.[11] In a word, there’s no shortage of meaningful ideas to explore in Christie’s canon, and the presumption that her worlds are straightforward or simplistic is a miscalculation that we perpetrate at the expense of our own enrichment. If Christie’s stories teach us anything at all, it’s not to trust appearances, and we’d do well to apply that same lesson to how we approach her mysteries, which comprise so much more than just cozy puzzles. Diligently and unassumingly, Christie created strands of narrative that needled away at tensions and sinister frustrations underpinning her social fabric, and nowhere perhaps more so than in The Mousetrap. The kernel for the story is an actual event that Christie lifted from the headlines of 1945. The previous summer, 12-year-old Dennis O’Neill and his brother Terence, soon to turn 10, were placed in the foster care of Reginald Gough and his wife Esther on their farm in a remote valley of Shropshire. Bank Farm was an expansive, 70-acre property that the O’Neill boys were forced to work, milking the cows and tending the other livestock. While there, the boys were only ever allotted two to three slices of bread to eat per day, and they were whipped on their open palms for the slightest infractions. When winter came, they were made to strip naked and sprint across the snow-blanketed yard to go bathe in the animals’ icy watering trough. As the boys’ hunger grew more desperate, they took to furtively eating cow feed, and in one especially heartbreaking incident, Dennis was so starved that he lowered himself beneath the udder of a milking cow to to secure nourishment. On the night of January 8, 1945, Mr. Gough punished Dennis for not gathering enough dry firewood. He tied the child, naked, to a bench that was used for slaughtering pigs, and he savagely beat him. As the brothers huddled together in their bed later that night, Dennis lay in so much pain that he was unable to stifle his sobbing. Demanding that the boy keep quiet, Gough burst into their room and punched Dennis’s emaciated body repeatedly with the full weight of his 31-year-old fist. Dennis O’Neill was pronounced dead the next day from acute heart failure caused by blows to the chest.[12] [caption id="attachment_13398" align="alignright" width="411"] Agatha Christie as a child.[/caption] The Bank Farm case made front-page news in early 1945, as a horrified nation tracked the breathless coverage of the Goughs’ trial alongside headlines like “‘Massacre’ on the Rhine” and “Nazi Purge Coming.”[13] Anguished, soul-searching editorials flooded the pages of newspapers, with writers demanding accountability and begging to know how, on the home front, any such slaying could happen. Abiding concerns over the welfare of working-class children like the O’Neills fueled public outrage, at a moment when foster care itself was already a lightning-rod issue. More than two million British children had been evacuated from sites deemed vulnerable to bombing during the war, and those children were scattered throughout the English countryside, living in foster situations with perfect strangers under the aegis of the same government machinery that allowed Dennis O’Neill to die. The day the Goughs were found guilty and sentenced to prison, the judge expressed utter indignation that their abuse happened “not in a slum, not in a hovel, but in a farm in our countryside in England.” Turning to Reginald Gough, he stated simply, “Your behaviour has shocked the world, has shocked England.”[14] The tragedy of Dennis O’Neill deeply moved Agatha Christie, who, already upon reading about it in the news, set to work formulating the story that later became The Mousetrap.[15] In the play, the Bank Farm case becomes “the Longridge Farm case,” though audiences in 1952 knew what Christie was referring to. The play offers a response to that harrowing event by laying bare the inadequacies of important institutions that Britons feared were collapsing around them. Marriage, the family, the judiciary, the police, the educational system—all are interrogated in some way by the people of the play, and the soundness of these systems is found to be deficient. It’s not merely out of comedic snobbishness that we hear Mrs. Boyle say, “This country has gone sadly downhill.”[16] Certainly, many in the play’s opening night audience agreed, and the fact that Dennis O’Neill tragically died in the way that he did was seen as evidence that the country was in shambles. [caption id="attachment_13405" align="alignnone" width="800"] Kate Fry and Tina Muñoz Pandya in THE MOUSETRAP. Photo: Michael Brosilow.[/caption] At the same time, The Mousetrap implicates all of us in the breakdown of social safeguards and shared compassion that made the death of a child like Dennis O’Neill possible. As we hear Detective Trotter say, “One might almost believe that you’re all guilty by the looks of you.”[17] The play’s designed to work on our sense of collective guilt—“We must have done something,” Mollie says[18]—and Christie preys on our gnawing dread that the supports which failed the vulnerable before may yet fail them again, either because we’ve chosen to run away from our own complicity, or because we’ve turned our backs on it and willed ourselves to move on. For The Mousetrap, this is a central proposition: when we refuse to face up to the role that we’ve played in the collapse of our communal responsibilities, we are haunted and hunted by those who’ve been hurt by our negligence. And the dangers of our negligence are matched only by the dangers of our bias. Christie offers us ample room to indulge myopic assumptions about the people around us, only to pointedly turn those assumptions against us, and show us what heels we are for having held those assumptions in the first place. The recurring references to macabre nursery rhymes in the play leave the audience a breadcrumb trail back to the fairy-tale cruelty of the Goughs on Bank Farm, and out of that nightmarish landscape the characters struggle to find a path that puts childhood behind them once and for all. “You’ve got to grow up some time,” we hear Mollie say to Chris. “You can’t go on being looked after all your life.”[19] Artfully, Christie poses these questions about responsibility, complicity, and adulthood within the framework of the theater’s space of play, where actors make believe and audiences sit together for story time in trusting wonder. But the theater is also a space of ritual, where we gather as a community to experience collective reckonings with traumatic events. In the end, The Mousetrap urges us toward a bracing release from the horrific circumstances that inspired it. With the tentative prospect for healing that it ultimately proposes, The Mousetrap extends to its audience a succession of open invitations: to be attentive to those who are abandoned or unrooted; to be their caretakers rather than their tormenters; to be welcoming to the stranger; and to protect the vulnerable souls among us.
[1] Alison Light, Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars (London: Routledge, 1991) 63-64. [2] Susan Rowland, From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell: British Women Writers in Detective and Crime Fiction (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001) vii. [3] Rowland vii. The work of Rowland and Light have helped to undo the decades-long exclusion of Christie from serious scholarly treatments, and led to a blossoming of monographs in more recent years. Merja Makinen’s Agatha Christie: Investigating Femininity (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2006); R. A. York’s Agatha Christie: Power and Illusion (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2007); Ed. J. C. Bernthal’s The Ageless Agatha Christie: Essays on the Mysteries and the Legacy (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016); and J. C. Bernthal’s Queering Agatha Christie: Revisiting the Golden Age of Detective Fiction (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2016) are all brilliant additions to the academic literature about Christie, offering some much-needed counterbalance in the scholarly record. [4] Julius Green outlines this state of affairs in the opening chapter of his book Curtain Up: Agatha Christie, A Life in Theatre (New York: HarperCollins, 2015), which itself performs an important intervention in the longstanding critical dismissal of Christie’s plays. [5] See Green 12-15. [6] https://www.agathachristie.com/theatre/a-brief-history-of-agatha-christie-and-stage [7] https://www.agathachristie.com/news/2019/agatha-christies-the-mousetrap-the-facts [8] Green 1. [9] Gillian Gill, Agatha Christie: The Woman and Her Mysteries (New York: Free Press, 1990) 207. [10] See Jacques Barzun and W. H. Taylor, A Catalogue of Crime (New York: Harper & Row, 1971) 7-9 and W. H. Auden, “The Guilty Vicarage,” The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays (New York: Random House, 1962) 157-158. [11] Gill 205-206. [12] For a fuller account of the O’Neill children’s time on Bank Farm, see Terence O’Neill, Someone to Love Us: The Shocking True Story of Two Brothers Fostered into Brutality and Neglect (London: HarperCollins, 2010) 84-152. [13] Daily Mail 20 Mar. 1945, 4am ed.: 1 and Daily Mail 14 Feb. 1945, 4am ed.: 1. [14] Quoted in Montague Smith, “Shock to the Nation,” Daily Mail 20 Mar. 1945, 4am ed.: 1. [15] Janet Morgan, Agatha Christie: A Biography (New York: HarperCollins, 2017) 262. [16] Agatha Christie, The Mousetrap (London: Samuel French, 1954) 29. [17] Christie 89. [18] Christie 33. [19] Christie 67 & 68." 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["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(51) "By Derek Matson, THE MOUSETRAP Production Dramaturg" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_wp_old_date"]=> string(10) "2020-01-15" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-16 16:57:03" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(37) "a-closer-look-beyond-gender-and-genre" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2020-01-17 12:56:08" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-17 18:56:08" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.courttheatre.org/?p=13384" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "publish" } [7]=> object(Timber\Post)#3643 (55) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(17) { ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1579294949:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["article_description"]=> string(170) "We wanted to learn more about what drew director Sean Graney to Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery, so we sat down with him before a rehearsal to pick his brain. " ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(0) "" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13381" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1579143268" ["_oembed_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(220) "" ["_oembed_time_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(10) "1579143268" } ["___content":protected]=> NULL ["_permalink":protected]=> NULL ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(13377) ["ID"]=> int(13377) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_content"]=> string(4814) "[caption id="attachment_13381" align="alignright" width="350"] Kate Fry and Sean Graney at the 50th Annual Jeff Awards ceremony. Fry won Best Solo Performance for THE BELLE OF AMHERST.[/caption] We wanted to learn more about what drew director Sean Graney (The Belle of Amherst, The Mystery of Irma Vep) to Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery, so we sat down with him before a rehearsal to pick his brain.  Discussing his return to Court and Chicago, Graney shared that one impetus for pitching The Mousetrap to Artistic Director Charles Newell was the opportunity to work with actor Kate Fry (The Belle of Amherst) again. “I think it’s a great role for her,” he shared, talking about the heroine at the center of The Mousetrap. “It’s a well-written role for a woman by a woman, and I thought that this piece would be a great fit for Court audiences.”  Fry is joined by an all-star cast including David Cerda, Allen Gilmore, Alex Goodrich, Erik Hellman, Tina Muñoz Pandya, Lyonel Reneau, and Carolyn Ann Hoerdemann. “I’m surprised at the depth of character development that the actors are bringing out,” Graney reflects. “I’ve always felt that the play is meaningful and relevant, but it’s still surprising to see just how deep the cast is delving into this world and the characters.” That depth, in part, is thanks to Christie’s writing, which Graney describes as “deep,” “funny,” and “super-duper smart.” It’s also spurred on by Graney’s approach in the room. The Mousetrap is sort of dismissed as a frivolous mystery,” he explains. “But on top of the mystery, it tells a story about a bunch of people who are living lies and how the lies keep them from being able to connect to each other.”  While other productions foreground the play’s plot, Graney wants to do more than just tell a “really cool, well-crafted murder mystery.” Instead, he says, “what’s more important to me is this theme about lies keeping us in isolation. I’m not sure what themes are at the heart of other productions, but I’m telling a dramatic story with a mystery on top of it.” What does he hope audiences will gain from his take on this classic piece of theatre? “What an audience leaves with is whatever magnetizes in their brain while they’re experiencing this production,” he acknowledges. “Maybe people will try to be more truthful with each other. I hope they all have a good time.” And with the cast and team he’s assembled, it’s no mystery whether or not audiences will enjoy this spirited take on an old favorite.
Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap runs through February 16, 2020. Save your seats →" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2020-01-15 11:31:11" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["post_title"]=> string(71) "Sean Graney On Staging Agatha Christie's THE MOUSETRAP at Court Theatre" ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["slug"]=> string(70) "sean-graney-on-staging-agatha-christies-the-mousetrap-at-court-theatre" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1579294949:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["article_description"]=> string(170) "We wanted to learn more about what drew director Sean Graney to Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery, so we sat down with him before a rehearsal to pick his brain. " ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(0) "" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13381" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1579143268" ["_oembed_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(220) "" ["_oembed_time_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(10) "1579143268" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-15 17:31:11" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(70) "sean-graney-on-staging-agatha-christies-the-mousetrap-at-court-theatre" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2020-01-15 11:31:11" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-15 17:31:11" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.courttheatre.org/?p=13377" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "publish" } [8]=> object(Timber\Post)#3644 (55) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(17) { ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1578352193:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(0) "" ["article_description"]=> string(65) "You never know who may stumble into your cute little guesthouse. " ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(58) "By Carissa Villagomez, Marketing and Communications Intern" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13355" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1578381888" ["_oembed_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(220) "" ["_oembed_time_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(10) "1578381888" } ["___content":protected]=> NULL ["_permalink":protected]=> NULL ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(13350) ["ID"]=> int(13350) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_content"]=> string(5717) "In THE MOUSETRAP, Mollie Ralston and her husband, Giles, open up a guesthouse in the 1950s. However, the dreams of financial success are put on hold when their first round of guests is snowed in amidst reports of a murderer on the loose. In this humorous article, the pros and cons of opening up a B&B during a murder investigation are weighed. You finally did it. After months of unconvincing discussions with your reluctant business partner, gathering supplies, and coordinating the rooms, it’s the opening day of your very own B & B. You never thought this day would come, but it’s here, and now you’re plagued by doubts. Did you stock enough wine? Will the hens lay enough eggs for everyone? I didn’t investigate my clients to see if they are upright citizens—what if someone is unruly? You never know who may stumble into your cute little guesthouse.  two person wearing horse heads sitting on folding chairs while playing accordions beside brown concrete building #1: You will deal with strange people. The guests are somewhat eccentric. They definitely have distinct personalities...and complaints. Nobody told me this was going to be so stressful.  two brown fox #2: You will fight with your business partner. My business partner is beginning to sound unsupportive. Why didn’t they mention all of these points when I first introduced the idea to them? Why wait until we have a manor full of strange customers?  House, Snow, Buried, Winter, December, January, Storm #3: You will be at the mercy of nature. Look forward to the most inconvenient weather possible. And now there’s a blizzard outside trapping us all together. My business partner is constantly refueling the heating system with coke. Nobody can come in or leave. What if we run out of supplies? We’ll be stranded! Cat, Feral, Street, Homeless, Animal, Kitten, Stray #4: You will be suspicious of everyone. A murder investigation?! At MY manor?! I heard about the crime on the radio, but how was I supposed to know that my adorable manor was going to be the primary site of investigation? I don’t know who to trust anymore. Nobody told me cold-blooded killers use houses in the middle of nowhere to hide from the law.  Question Marks, Punctuation, Symbol, Sign, Help #5: You will be a suspect. It’s already challenging being a young entrepreneur making it in 1950s England, now I have to contend with murder accusations. Nobody told me my past was going to come back to haunt me when I decided to open up this B & B. I thought I was moving forward, now all I’m doing is looking back. Mop, Bucket, Chores, Housework, Clean, Household #6: Someone will die and you’re going to be the one to clean up after the murderer. Now THIS. A dead body in my living room. Not only was I the first one to come across the body, I’m also the one who has to clean up that room now. I did not sign up for this. Nobody told me how unpleasant this would be. Skull, Cemetery, Genoa, Teeth, Bone, Die, Death #7: You might die. This would seem self-evident but when the reality sets in, it is difficult to cope. Question Mark, Important, Sign, Problem, Search, Help #8: Your beliefs will be questioned. I like to believe the best in people, but now, I realize everybody has their secrets, including me, that they cannot escape. So much for my B & B dreams. At the end, you realize you should have thought your business plan over more. After everything is resolved, maybe you’ll consider opening again one day, when murder is not afoot. 
Want to see how things fare for Mollie Ralston's B&B dreams in The Mousetrap? Performances run January 16 - February 16, 2020. Save your seats today!" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2020-01-06 16:41:14" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["post_title"]=> string(75) "Things Nobody Tells You About Opening a B & B During A Murder Investigation" ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["slug"]=> string(73) "things-nobody-tells-you-about-opening-a-b-b-during-a-murder-investigation" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1578352193:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(0) "" ["article_description"]=> string(65) "You never know who may stumble into your cute little guesthouse. " ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(58) "By Carissa Villagomez, Marketing and Communications Intern" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13355" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1578381888" ["_oembed_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(220) "" ["_oembed_time_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(10) "1578381888" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-06 22:41:14" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(73) "things-nobody-tells-you-about-opening-a-b-b-during-a-murder-investigation" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2020-01-06 17:12:14" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-06 23:12:14" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.courttheatre.org/?p=13350" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "1" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "publish" } [9]=> object(Timber\Post)#3645 (59) { ["ImageClass"]=> string(12) "Timber\Image" ["PostClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Post" ["TermClass"]=> string(11) "Timber\Term" ["object_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["custom"]=> array(21) { ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1578333409:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_oembed_fbe26c97fe4af00ea15489a7bc80089b"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_fbe26c97fe4af00ea15489a7bc80089b"]=> string(10) "1578074619" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["article_description"]=> string(158) "Listen to our MOUSETRAP-inspired playlist! We chose a variety of songs that directly and indirectly mention characters’ struggles and the play’s motifs. " ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(55) "Carissa Villagomez, Marketing and Communications Intern" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1578332079" ["_oembed_71996827271a8bfb41510cf95c4f122d"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_71996827271a8bfb41510cf95c4f122d"]=> string(10) "1578074669" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13346" ["_oembed_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(220) "" ["_oembed_time_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(10) "1578100560" } ["___content":protected]=> NULL ["_permalink":protected]=> NULL ["_next":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_prev":protected]=> array(0) { } ["_css_class":protected]=> NULL ["id"]=> int(13347) ["ID"]=> int(13347) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "9" ["post_content"]=> string(11427) " The legacy of The Mousetrap is extensive, embodying what audiences love about the mystery genre. To capture the emotions and attitudes of the characters in the play, we compiled a playlist to shed light on their personalities and encapsulate their mindsets as they get caught up in a mystery where no one is safe from the accusations of others. The playlist is presented as one unit but each song was chosen with respect to a different character. A variety of genres are explored. Below, each song is listed in relation to what character/theme it parallels, along with a brief discussion pointing out these similarities. https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7tmSNSXtQTJbDiBLuBAktx MOLLIE RALSTON: “Suspicion” by LP After the announcement that the murderer has to be one of them and Mollie discovers that Giles was in London on the day of the crime, she becomes increasingly suspicious toward him. The lyrics “you seem so heaven sent but somehow I still invent the fear in me” relates back to their whirlwind marriage after only knowing each other for a short time and her current fear that he is the criminal. The lyrics “the past becomes the crime in my mind” can refer to Mollie’s reexamination of Giles’ past behavior and her interpretation of the reason he went to London that week. At a certain point, suspicion changes Mollie’s heart and attitude toward her husband. “Blank Page” by Christina Aguilera The lyrics “In my own way, I regret choices I’ve made” refer to Mollie’s obscure mention of a past tragedy and her discussion with Christopher on what she is running away from. At the end of the play, the choice she regrets is revealed but there is now way to “erase decisions [she] made”, as the song says. The question “how do I say I’m sorry?” not only refers to her past mistake, but also her eventual reconciliation with her husband if her suspicions are invalidated. GILES RALSTON: “Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order The lyrics “Why can’t we be ourselves like we were yesterday?” applies to Giles’ annoyance with being hosts for the manor and his irritation with the entire investigation after everyone arrives to their abode. He wants everything to go back to the way it was before the murder happened and everyone starts blaming one another. The lyrics “I don’t think you’re what you seem” apply to his growing suspicion of the guests, as well as toward his wife when he discovers she went to London without telling him and when she begins to act strangely when interrogated. If Giles “hurt someone else”, i.e., murdered the two women, then he will indeed “never see just what [he and Mollie] are meant to be” as their relationship may disintegrate if they cannot trust one another.  “Who Is He (And What Is He To You?)” by Bill Withers The lyrics “who is he and what is he to you?” encapsulate Giles’ fury toward Mollie when he sees her interactions with Christopher. Her amiable relationship with the young man creates tension in the couple’s relationship as Giles is left to wonder about his wife’s interactions with the guest and all the secrets they both may be hiding. CHRISTOPHER WREN: “Suit and Jacket” by Judah & the Lion This song captures Christopher’s desire to remain young and never have to grow up. While everyone around him berates him for his child-like and flighty demeanor, Christopher has to reconcile his aversion to responsibility and the reality of having to grow up eventually.  “Responsibility” by MxPx Christopher does not enjoy the responsibilities and realities of adulthood, like facing the past rather than running away from it. The lyrics “you think I’m so simplistic / I’m onto you and your tricks” applies to his role in the play. Everyone around him thinks he is foolish at first, and then they hold deep suspicions that he is the murderer. However, Christopher realizes that they think this of him and he maintains his innocence. The lyrics “I’m still young and I’d like to stay that way / ‘Cause growing up won’t make everything okay” is a fine summation of Christopher’s attitude, particularly when he talks to Mollie about his desire to never grow up as he feels doing so won’t help him anyway. MRS. BOYLE: “Treatment” by August Burns Red When Mrs. Boyle arrives to the manor, she is unpleasant and critical of her hosts. Her critiques are constant and “the more animosity [she spits] out, the less [the others] want to hear” as the guests try their best to steer clear from her. Although she has the right to provide her reviews as an experienced guest at similar places, her rude judgement of her hosts’ honest efforts annoys everyone present. She should indeed “relax [her] grip of disapproval” of others as she herself has made choices in the past that she will come to regret. “Judge Not” by Bob Marley Maybe Mrs. Boyle should take a lesson from Bob Marley. She is exceedingly judgmental of Monkswell Manor, its hosts, and its guests when she has sins to pay for herself. As she criticizes the manor and the behavior of its inhabitants, someone else is examining her past actions and is coming to to make her pay for them. MAJOR METCALF: “Simple Man” by Shinedown  As he appears to be a simple, proper person, we’re going to keep the songlist for him short and to the point. Major Metcalf is disciplined in demeanor and courteous to others, though his motives remain suspicious. The sentiment of the songs seems to be something the major would identify with. We know this is a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd but Brent Smith’s vocals capture the energy and presence of Metcalf. MISS CASEWELL: “Idiot Wind” by Bob Dylan Just as the other guests, Miss Casewell is one of the suspects for the murders, which can be related to the lyrics “Someone’s got it in for me/ They’re planting stories in the press”, as the detective interrogates her in front of the other guests, manipulating the story to make her seem like the criminal. However, upon first hearing of the murder, Miss Casewell is mostly unperturbed, making light of it as something intriguing. Her initial blasé attitude and interactions with the other guests are captured by the lines “idiot wind/ blowing every time you move your mouth”. When she insinuates that she holds a dark past and that she is often on the move from place to place, her testimony suggests that she has “not known peace and quiet for so long [she] can’t remember what it’s like.” “It’s a Wonderful Lie” by Paul Westerberg Miss Casewell is mysterious and closed off, refusing to divulge the details from her past when the detective interrogates her, so the lyrics “I’ve been accused of never opening up” do apply to her. The lines “I’m gonna run to the wind where the big bad city blows” calls to mind her frequent travels and evasions. “It’s a wonderful lie” ties back to her true identity and her true purpose at the manor. She tries to convince herself that nothing from the past will affect her unless she wants it to, yet its effect on her psychology and course of actions becomes apparent over the course of the play.  MR. PARAVICINI: “Stranger Blues” by Elmore James Mr. Paravicni is the last to arrive to the manor and he does so quite unexpectedly. He is described as “foreign” and his demeanor shocks the other guests. Due to the circumstances surrounding his sudden arrival and his behavior, the others immediately point the finger at him when it is revealed the murderer is one of them. However, as each tries to project their own mistakes on others, then they all must face judgement in the end as everyone reaps and sows suspicion and tension amongst the entire group. DETECTIVE SERGEANT TROTTER: “We Are Detective” by Thompson Twins Trotter acts as a detective, interrogating each of the guests and pointing out supposedly incriminating behavior so that everyone remains under suspicion. While he does not go about in the same style as Thompson Twins, his efforts do indeed sow chaos and his actions eventually reveal the identity of the true criminal. THE PLAY: We won’t reveal who the killer is, but we will put songs about their motives and attitudes. “Someone Will Pay” by Justin Townes Earle  The motive for murder is often revenge and the criminal in Christie’s play is no different. Some people (the “Three Blind Mice”) will indeed pay for their past decisions. “Disarm” by Smashing Pumpkins The killer in this play was indeed traumatized as a child so that they are “old in their shoes” even at a young age. They see no other option but to murder those who wronged them, which harkens back to the lyrics “and what I choose is my choice / What’s a boy supposed to do?” The line “the killer in me is the killer in you” encapsulates the spirit of the play as each character turns on the other, everyone seeing the killer in each other’s eyes while being blamed for the crime themselves. Anyone and anybody has the potential to be the true criminal in Christie’s play. 
On stage January 16 – February 16, 2020, The Mousetrap  is revived in an exuberant staging by Sean Graney that eschews cliché and begs for a repeat viewing as the traps characters lay are sprung in surprising ways. Save your seats and see if you can solve whodunnit →" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2020-01-03 12:04:27" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["post_title"]=> string(53) "Get Ready for THE MOUSETRAP with Our Curated Playlist" ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["slug"]=> string(53) "get-ready-for-the-mousetrap-with-our-curated-playlist" ["__type":protected]=> NULL ["_edit_lock"]=> string(12) "1578333409:9" ["_edit_last"]=> string(1) "9" ["_oembed_fbe26c97fe4af00ea15489a7bc80089b"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_fbe26c97fe4af00ea15489a7bc80089b"]=> string(10) "1578074619" ["_yoast_wpseo_content_score"]=> string(2) "30" ["article_description"]=> string(158) "Listen to our MOUSETRAP-inspired playlist! We chose a variety of songs that directly and indirectly mention characters’ struggles and the play’s motifs. " ["_article_description"]=> string(19) "field_5927045f742d7" ["article_byline"]=> string(55) "Carissa Villagomez, Marketing and Communications Intern" ["_article_byline"]=> string(19) "field_592de516b020a" ["add_feed"]=> string(1) "0" ["_add_feed"]=> string(19) "field_5939a562bed44" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_category"]=> string(2) "14" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_subscription-type"]=> string(0) "" ["_yoast_wpseo_primary_production-section"]=> string(3) "231" ["_oembed_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_3284759a80b07d59a4ede83b1714b428"]=> string(10) "1578332079" ["_oembed_71996827271a8bfb41510cf95c4f122d"]=> string(213) "" ["_oembed_time_71996827271a8bfb41510cf95c4f122d"]=> string(10) "1578074669" ["_thumbnail_id"]=> string(5) "13346" ["_oembed_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(220) "" ["_oembed_time_e3113e73a4434664582f08d2ebddae1c"]=> string(10) "1578100560" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-03 18:04:27" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(6) "closed" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(53) "get-ready-for-the-mousetrap-with-our-curated-playlist" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2020-01-06 11:34:37" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2020-01-06 17:34:37" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["guid"]=> string(37) "https://www.courttheatre.org/?p=13347" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "0" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" ["status"]=> string(7) "publish" } } --> Productions - Page 5 of 14 - Court Theatre
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Ellida’s Choice

How is Ellida similar to other Ibsenian heroines? Learn about the choice she's faced with in THE LADY FROM THE SEA and how she navigates society's gendered confines.

Her Choice

Ibsen scholar Dr. Ruth Schor reflects on the role of choice in the playwright's canon.

Ibsen in Popular Culture

How have Ibsen and THE LADY FROM THE SEA influenced other aspects of pop culture? Find out in this blog about Ibsen on film.

A Closer Look: Beyond Gender and Genre

Production Dramaturg Derek Matson delves into the history surrounding Agatha Christie's THE MOUSETRAP, making the case that the author's examinations of society are often overlooked by critics.

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