Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), concludes its 19th season with "Las Meninas," playwright Lynn Nottage's account of the seduction of Louis the XIV's queen, Marie-Therese, and the consequences of her scandalous relationship with Nabo, her African servant. Nottage weaves an imaginative tale based on a fascinating but forgotten time in history that examines truths about women and race. Eve Muson, who helmed last season's "Speech & Debate," directs a large cast in this rarely produced play. "Las Meninas" opens April 18 with a limited run through May 6, 2012, in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC.
"I came across a piece of obscure history that really intrigued me," playwright Nottage said of her inspiration for "Las Meninas" in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "The more I discovered about Louise Marie, the more fascinated I became with not just her but that era in history, the court of Louis XIV, and the rituals and mores of court society.'
The play's title comes from a 1656 Diego Velázquez painting, "Las Meninas," Spanish for "The Maids of Honour" (ladies in waiting to the Spanish Queen). Velazquez was considered to be the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age. "I was exploring the way in which women have been marginalized by history to the point that we are practically erased from it,' Nottage said. "I had to dig very deep into diaries and primary resources in order to find any information about the women of that period. Particularly as an African-American woman, one would think there were no people of color living in France at that period.'
A post-show reception follows the Saturday, April 21 evening performance and free post-show discussions follow the Friday, April 27 and May 4 performances. There will be a pre-show lecture Saturday, May 5 at 12:30 p.m. (prior to the 2 p.m. matinee) in Monteabaro Hall. Renee Brozic Barger, director of HCC's dance program, will be demonstrating period dance and movement as well as talking about the importance of dance, music and order in the court of Louis XIV. The lecture is free and open to the public.
For tickets and additional information, visit www.repstage.org or call 443-518-1500.
Meet the Playwright:
Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play (2009) "Ruined" has also received an OBIE, the Lucille Lortel Award, New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Other plays include "Intimate Apparel" (New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best Play); "Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine" (OBIE Award); "Crumbs from the Table of Joy"; "Mud, River, Stone"; "Por'knockers" and "POOF!" Nottage is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2007 MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, the National Black Theatre Festival's August Wilson Playwriting Award, the 2004 PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama, the 2005 Guggenheim Grant for Playwriting, as well as fellowships from the Lucille Lortel Foundation, Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists and New York Foundation for the Arts. She is a member of The Dramatists Guild, an alumna of New Dramatists and a graduate oF Brown University and the Yale School of Drama, where she is a visiting lecturer. Before becoming a playwright full time, she served as National Press Officer for Amnesty International. Nottage's plays are being produced worldwide.
Meet the Director:
Eve Muson's directing credits include "Speech & Debate" (Rep Stage); "Venus," "Big River," and "Peter Pan" (Olney Theatre Center); and many productions at Boston Playwrights Theatre, American Stage Festival, and Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She is a key participant in "GRRL Parts," UMBC's festival of new plays by women. For this annual project, Eve has directed commissioned works by Sheila Callaghan, Tanya Saracho, Lucy Thurber, Ellen McLaughlin, and Timberlake Wertenbaker. She serves as a director in new play development at WordBRIDGE Playwrights Laboratory. She has directed dozens of university productions and many new plays and devised works. She has been cited for Outstanding Direction by the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for her work on "Un Tango En La Noche" (Boston University). She is an assistant professor of theatre and head of the B.F.A. Acting program at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.