UTS Backstage are thrilled to present The Children’s Hour, written by Lillian Hellman. Based on a true story about a nineteenth century Scottish boarding school, Hellman found in a crime anthology this drama is set in a 1930s all-girl’s boarding school run by Karen Wright (Brenna Harding, Puberty Blues) and Martha Dobie (Gabrielle Stapleton, UTS Backstage Presents The Crucible). With Martha’s eccentric, ex-actress aunt Mrs. Lily Mortar (Ally Moulis, UTS Backstage Presents Dole Diary) teaching, and her class consisting of girls on the cusp of adolescence, the school runs as smoothly as it can. That is, until bored schoolgirl Mary Tilford (Shannon O’Connor, DRAMAC Presents Pygmalion), manipulative and taunting in the way only young girls can be, spreads a rumour that Martha and Karen are sleeping together, thus destroying the women’s lives, careers, reputations, and relationships.
Premiering on Broadway in 1934, the play had a successful run of over six hundred shows; however, due to the themes of lesbian sexuality, it was restricted from travelling to both Chicago and Boston. Two decades later, the film adaption saw Audrey Hepburn star as Karen; more recently in 2011, Keira Knightly succeeded the role opposite Elizabeth Moss as Martha on the West End.
This is a seminal piece of LGBT+ theatre that reminds audiences of the terrifying struggle for queer identity—and queer survival— throughout history. It reminds us how far we’ve come; and, as the opening night of our run coincides with the release of the marriage plebiscite, how far we may have yet to go.
“Breaking emotional barriers in an actor in a play which was pivotal in the LGBT writing movement brings me a challenge that I hope to conquer,” director Jake Bayssari says. “The cast impeccably hold a sense of rawness and emotional vulnerability while the crew have encompassed all what the aesthetic of the play needs.”
The Children’s Hour will be performed at the Bon Marche Theatre, 15 Broadway, Ultimo NSW 2007. The show will run from Wednesday November 15 th , through to Friday November 17th , with curtains up at 7pm.
Backstage Member: $10
Karen Wright: Brenna Harding
Martha Dobie: Gabrielle Stapleton
Mary Tilford: Shannon O’Connor
Joseph Cardin: Sam Allan
Amelia Tilford: Lucy Allen
Mrs. Lily Mortar: Ally Moulis
Rosalie Wells: Emma Hilton
Agatha: Josie Bray
Evelyn Munn: April-Rose Desalegn
Peggy Rogers: Alex Greenhalgh
Lois Fisher: Sophie Dallimer
Helen Burton: Jordana Wegman
Director: Jake Bayssari
Assistant Director: Lucille MacKellar
Creative Director/ Producer: Lucy Tassell
PR: Jordana Wegman
Set Designer: Will Hall
Photography/ Graphic Design: Sophie-Jaye Hayman