Monday, June 26, 2006

'Til the Fat Lady Sings by Carolyn Gage and Andrea Jill Higgins 8/19

'Til the Fat Lady Sings, a one act operetta with book by Carolyn Gage, music by Richard Wagner, Giacomo Puccini, Christoph Willibald von Gluck, and Andrea Jill Higgins and lyrics by Richard Wagner, Carolyn Gage, Giuseppe Giacosa, Luigi Illica, and Raniere Calzabigi, will be given a reading on Saturday, August 19, 2006, in the Roy Bowen Theatre at the Drake Performance and Event Center. Curtain is at 8:00 p.m. Public welcome to this free reading.

The operetta, which is part of the International Center for Women Playwrights Archives at the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute, will be directed by Christopher Purdy, music director of WOSU-FM, Central Ohio's classical music station, and performed by Tamara Regensburger as Sara and Crystal Stabenow as Gillian. Patricia Ake will read the nurse.

We're delighted that both Carolyn Gage and Andrea Jill Higgins will be present for the reading, attending the Third Annual International Center for Women Playwrights Retreat. More information about the retreat is at A plot synopsis, provided by Carolyn Gage (who lives in Maine), follows:

Sara, a young woman in her early 30’s, lies in a hospital bed, waiting to be taken down to surgery for a gastric bypass operation. Sara is convinced that, without the surgery, she will never be able to realize her ambition to become a professional opera singer. Her years of training and graduate school will have been wasted.

Tamara Regensburger will read Sara

Sara’s partner, Gillian, is opposed to the surgery, and when she shows up in the hospital room, an argument ensues. Realizing that their conflict is causing Sara distress, Gillian apologizes and asks Sara to sing “Vissi d’arte,” a favorite aria by Puccini. When a nurse arrives to administer a sedative, however, Gillian renews her opposition and exits.

Under sedation, Sara experiences a series of dreams which incorporate elements of well-known operas with concerns about the impending surgery and her experiences with fat oppression. The dream sequences include a comic interlude as a Rheinemaiden, an encounter with the “Ghost of Callas Past,” a confusion between Madame Butterfly’s hari-kari and gastric bypass surgery, and a scene from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice in which Gillian plays the tormented troubadour on a mission to retrieve his love from the Underworld ― a mission which must be achieved without turning and looking back at her.

At this point, Sara wakes up, but she is still confused by the drugs. Mistaking Gillian for Orfeo, she insists that Gillian not look at her, because that is the only way to lead her out of hell. Gillian expresses a concern that perhaps Sara’s immersion in operas that reflect morbid male fantasies might be coloring Sara’s perceptions. She points out that what is making life hell for Sara is not the way she sees Sara, but the way other people see her. She challenges Sara to give a voice to her body, instead of trying to give a body to her voice.

Crystal Stabenow will read Gillian

Sara considers the suggestion and the play ends with her singing the aria, “This Body Is My Song,” a radical love song between a diva and her body.

Carolyn Gage, the playwright

Carolyn Gage is a lesbian-feminist playwright, performer, director, and activist. The author of four books on lesbian theatre and forty-seven plays, musicals, and one-woman shows, she specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history. More about Carolyn and her work at

Andrea Jill Higgins, the composer

Andrea Jill Higgins received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Composition from Mills College, Oakland, California, earned a Master of Music degree in Music Theatre Direction from Arizona State University, and has been involved as composer, conductor, music director or accompanist in more than 120 stage productions. Andrea presently is the Music Director and Composer-in-Residence of Temple Solel Synagogue in Paradise Valley, AZ.

The reading is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in the lot across Cannon Drive from the Drake Center (the lot between the towers) on weekends, and in the lot on the west side of the Ohio Stadium, a short walk to the Drake. The reading is the culmination of the third annual retreat for members of the International Center for Women Playwrights (see for more information about the ICWP). For additional information about the reading, contact the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute at 614/292-6614, or the Institute's director, Alan Woods, at

Monday, June 19, 2006

When Something Wonderful Ends--June 18, 2006

News of Sherry Kramer's When Something Wonderful Ends, which was read on Sunday, June 18th, will start this blog--which serves to publicize free readings of new plays at Ohio State, usually by playwrights whose work is archived in the Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.

It's appropriate to hold such readings at the Lawrence and Lee Institute, since both playwriting partners--authors of Inherit the Wind, Auntie Mame and its musical adaptation Mame, and The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, among many other plays, supported young playwrights throughout their long careers. Much more about these distinguished playwrights at the Institute's website,

Sherry Kramer's When Something Wonderful Ends, a play for one woman and one Barbie, masterfully combines the history and impact of American consumerism and American oil policies in the Middle East through the life of a woman, packing up her Barbie dolls and their outfits, for sale on ebay as she's closing out her parents' house four years after her mother's death; her father is now moving to assisted living. It was performed by veteran central Ohio community theatre performer Barbara Butler; bios of both playwright and performer are below.

Our next reading will be Carolyn Gage's operatic one act play, 'Til the Fat Lady Sings, which will be read on Saturday, August 19th by Tamara Regensburger and Cyrstal Stabenow of OSU Opera, directed by WOSU-FM's Christopher C. Purdy. More about that later. Here's information on Sherry Kramer and Barbara Butler.

Sherry Kramer

Sherry Kramer's work has been seen at theatres across America, including The Yale Repertory Theatre, Soho Rep, Ensemble Studio Theater, New York's Second Stage, Woolly Mammoth, The Theatre of the First Amendment, Seattle's Annex Theatre, Frontera at Hyde Park, Mixed Blood, and The Signature Theater in Arlington, VA. She is a recipient of N E A, New York Foundation for the Arts and McKnight Fellowships, the Weissberger Playwriting Award; a New York Drama League Award, and the Marvin Taylor Award (for WHAT A MAN WEIGHS), the L A Women in Theater New Play Award (for THE WALL OF WATER), and the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award (for DAVID'S REDHAIRED DEATH, which was produced by Ohio State’s Department of Theatre in the 2004-2005 season). Her other plays include THE RULING PASSION, PARTIAL OBJECTS, THE WORLD AT ABSOLUTE ZERO, ABOUT SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION, NANO AND NICKI IN BOCA RATON, THE RELEASE OF A LIVE PERFORMANCE, THE LAW MAKES EVENING FALL, and a music/theater adaptation of Bulgakov's THE MASTER AND MARGARITA with composer Margaret Pine. WHEN SOMETHING WONDERFUL ENDS will be produced in April, 2007, by the Playwrights Theatre in Madison, New Jersey.

Barbara Butler

Barbara Butler has appeared in numerous roles with the Dublin Senior Players over the past several years, including Kitty in DINNER AT EIGHT and Mrs. Melcher in WELCOME TO ACCEPTANCE. She has enjoyed a lengthy career as a choreographer, and studied with a pupil of famed modern dance giant Martha Graham. Barbara is an active volunteer at the Lawrence and Lee Theatre Research Institute, and serves on Ohio State’s Program 60 Board of Trustees.