'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 http://icwpohioretreat.blogspot.com/. 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 http://www.carolyngage.com/
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 http://www.netspace.org/~icwp/ 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 email@example.com.