At tonight’s opening performance of BUREAU OF MISSING PERSONS, Artistic Driector Andrew Hungerford announced the next show of their season.
It is THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood, adapted for the stage by Joe Stollenwerk. The world premiere of this production was presented by Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in April 2011 as a season extra for nine performances only. That run of the one-woman show was directed by Brian Isaac Phillips and starred Corrine Mohlenhoff. Both are returning for the fully-staged production at Know Theatre of Cincinnati.
I was lucky enough to attend a performance and it was an extremely well-done. Well-written, directed and acted. I look forward to seeing it again. Below I have pulled some information about Stollenwerk and that production from the original press release.
The author, Joe Stollenwerk is originally from Cincinnati where he spent nearly ten years as the Artistic Director of Ovation Theatre Company. A vibrant member of the local theater community, Mr. Stollenwerk has also directed and/or acted with Cincinnati Music Theatre, Covedale Theatre, Cincinnati Playwright Initiative and Madisonville Arts Center. It was during this time in Cincinnati, that Mr. Stollenwerk and Ms. Mohlenhoff first met and began working with each other actually inspiring Mr. Stollenwerk to create this piece with Corinne in mind during the process.
“I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in a course on feminism and utopia/dystopia in literature in 2002. This was in the wake of 9/11 and it seemed that our country might all too easily be teetering on the brink of something reminiscent of Gilead from this novel. I immediately began thinking about turning it into a play, despite the fact that this seemed an insurmountable task. Then I remembered that one of my favorite genres of plays is the one-woman show, and that was that.” Mr. Stollenwerk began with a draft in 2006 which was well over six hours long. “I cut, and cut, and cut, always trying to be mindful that I wanted to preserve the plot and characters but also the social/political commentary as well as the marvelous language Atwood employs.”
The artistic process continued and Mr. Stollenwerk invited close friends over for informal readings of the script in his living room throughout 2007. “Finally, I felt ready to give Corinne a draft of the script, and in May of 2009 we did a staged reading here at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. I’m so pleased that I was finally able to secure the rights to have a production staged and to present the world premiere right here in Cincinnati, OH.”
I will post more details on the upcoming production when they become available.