Endangered Species Project has announced a rare reading of a play that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1921 - the first play by a woman to do so - Miss Lulu Bett by Zola Gale.
An astonishing find, brought to us by director John Dillon, Miss Lulu Bett is a feminist comedy, set in, as Gale called it, "the Middle Class." It centers on the beautifully drawn title character, a woman who chafes at the choices she doesn't have; but the characters around her are hilariously accurate portraits: a wild little girl, a braggart husband, a hopeless suitor, a wily mother...
Zona Gale (1874-1938) was born and spent most of her life in Portage, Wisconsin. She was active in progressive causes and in the interest of women's suffrage - and a full-time successful writer whose work is now, unjustly, almost unknown outside her native state. She wrote a volume of poetry, eleven novels, and seven plays. Miss Lulu Bett, adapted by Gale from her novel of the same name, was a 1920 Broadway hit, and the next year it was made into a successful silent film by director William B. DeMille (Cecil B. DeMille's elder brother, and father of choreographer Agnes DeMille, a feminist trailblazer in her own right).
The June 11 reading will take place at West of Lenin, at 203 N. 36th St. Seattle, WA 98103. Featured in the cast, as of this date, are: Susan Corzatte, Shannon Erickson, Chad Kelderman, Leslie Law, Jessica Martin, Ben McFadden, Jeanne Paulsen, Larry Paulsen, Jeff Steitzer and Richard Ziman... all under the direction of John Dillon.
ESP is a confederation of Seattle theatre artists dedicated to presenting plays that seldom get full productions. In the present economic straits in which regional theatre now finds itself, much of the so-called established international repertoire is neglected, for various reasons: there are too many different settings, or the casts are too large, or, simply, the publicity requirements of selling a play that is both "old" and unfamiliar to general audiences may seem too daunting.
ESP feels that while it is an essential duty of theatres to develop new work, the group sees a parallel need to celebrate older or otherwise neglected plays, and to explore the genius of playwrights such as Maxwell Anderson, George Abbott, Harold Brighouse, Arthur Wing Pinero, and so many more. Through its simply staged readings, the group hopes to lend live voices to plays that are now silent on our bookshelves.
For more about ESP and previous shows, click here.