Productions

Chatting with Janie Howland, Scenic Designer

We talked with Janie Howland, the scenic designer of Pacific Overtures!

What Lyric Stage shows have you worked on before?

JH: I’ve been working at the Lyric Stage for 25 years. I’ve done
at least two shows a season. So, it has to be at least 50 and a few
more—maybe 60. In fact, I did my first professional show ever at
the Lyric Stage and Spiro directed it.

What excites and challenges you about of Pacific Overtures?

JH: Pacific Overtures is difficult. In the beginning of the script,
Sondheim alludes to Kabuki Theater and so we started there, but
this space physically doesn’t lend itself to that and I question why
we are referencing it at all? It feels so separate from American
theater, and it’s so stylized—I feel like it would alienate the
audiences a little bit. If we’re trying to tell a real story about
something that’s important—which in this case is people
overcoming other people and imposing their culture on them—
then it feels like Kabuki is not going to help us. So then putting
that aside it becomes a challenge of “okay, well what story
are we telling? And how do we keep it Japanese but make it
accessible?”

How many different theaters do you work at in a year? How many shows do you design?

JH: I design, on average, ten shows a year. But the Lyric Stage
is home. The Lyric Stage has always been home. I know the
space. I dream the space.

What’s your favorite space to work in?

JH: The Lyric Stage!

You don’t have to say that! (But of course we’re thrilled that you did.)

JH: I love three-quarter thrust because I love the intimacy
and I love pushing the set out to the audience.

What’s your process like?

JH: Once I am hired, I read the script, listen to the music, and just
feel it. I don’t get into specifics of “there has to be a door, there has
to be….” I just ask what does this play feel like? I do what’s called
an emotional response. It’s any kind of creative regurgitation. I
tend to make little sculptures but when I teach I tell my students
they can do anything—compose a song, do a movement piece, etc.
Then I present it to the director as my initial “this is how I feel about
the play” and it becomes a jumping off point for further discussion.

Does it change for you when you read a play or musical that
you’ve never read or worked on before versus one you’re
familiar with or have worked on before?

JH: If it’s within a particularly small timeframe, it will be hard to
have a different response to it. I did A Streetcar Named Desire
twice a year apart and the directors brought completely opposite
concepts. In the first production the focus was how the outside
world impacted Blanche, and how the color, light, and noise
really pressed on her. With the second one, the director was really
interested in it being an internal monologue from Blanche—
almost like she dreamed it happened. And it was much more
abstract and (I think) a better design. The first one won multiple
awards; it was beautiful, it was huge—it was a classic Streetcar.
But the second one was more interesting. I didn’t go into the
second one with a different emotional response, but the director
took it in a whole different direction.

What inspires you as an artist?

JH: Anything visual can inspire you. Sometimes I walk around
outside and look up at the buildings. If you look up instead of
down, there’s beautiful architecture in Boston. My favorite art
movements are Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and Van Gogh is my
favorite painter because he’s very expressionistic. I always go to
art—I go to sculpture and painting for inspiration

More About Pacific Overtures

This startling, entertaining, and thrilling masterpiece puts a cap on Spiro Veloudos’ multi-year Sondheim Initiative. An unlikely friendship is forged between a samurai, Kayama, and an Americanized fisherman, Manjiro, during Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan. The two friends are caught in the inevitable winds of change and tell the story of Japan’s painful and harrowing Westernization. A highly original, inventive, powerful, and surprisingly humorous theatrical experience.

“Musical theater at its most intellectually challenging.  Extraordinary songs!”   – NY Times

“It’s enthralling to see Sondheim’s songs work so magically well!” – Huffington Post

About Janie E. Howland, Scenic Design

Janie E. Howland** (Scenic Design) has called the Lyric Stage home for 25 years, having recently designed Little Foxes and Anna Christie. Other recent designs: Nat Turner in Jerusalem (ASP), Caroline or Change (Moonbox), Art Makes Sense CONSENSES Exhibit (Mass MOCA), Madeline’s Christmas (BCT), Urban Nutcracker (City Ballet). Other venues: Lynn Redgrave Theatre (NY), Emerson Majestic, New Rep, Weston Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Odyssey Opera, Central Square Theatre, Gloucester Stage, SpeakEasy Stage, Ohio Star Theatre, A.R.T. Institute, Boston Conservatory, Company One, Greater Boston Stage Company, Seacoast Rep, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, and Huntington Theatre Studio 210. Brandeis University M.F.A.; four-time Elliot Norton Award winner, four-time IRNE Award winner, adjunct faculty at Emerson College, Wellesley College. USA Local 829. janiehowland.com

Chatting with Lisa Yuen

We talked with Lisa Yuen, who portrays Reciter, Shogun, Storyteller, and Emperor in our upcoming production of Pacific Overtures!

What Lyric Stage shows have you worked on before?

LY: The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Into the Woods,
Sweeney Todd, and Kiss of the Spider Woman

What you about of Pacific Overtures?

LY: Spiro Veloudos and music director Jon Goldberg LOVE
Sondheim! They are two of Boston’s most passionate and informed
Sondheim experts and I predict rehearsals to be masterclasses
about one of America’s greatest composers and lyricists.

What challenges you about Pacific Overtures?

LY: Pacific Overtures is commonly touted as Sondheim’s most
ambitious and sophisticated score and that description alone
is a daunting task. Everyone approaches Sondheim’s work with
deep intellect and then as an artist, you are reminded of how well
Sondheim can tap into the complexity of human emotion.

Where do you and The Reciter intersect?

LY: At the role’s heart, The Reciter is a storyteller and I’ve made
a career of being just that. We will be rediscovering the 1976
Broadway classic to its bare essence of storytelling—about
holding onto tradition while trying to be successful with change
and modernization. More importantly, we ask ourselves how
this dichotomy effects the human condition and its relations,
as so excellently portrayed in the development of the roles
of Manjiro and Kayama. I love hearing the role of the Reciter
through a woman’s voice since there are such great themes of
modernization and strength—very timely for now.
The Lyric Stage has always been very generous and has allowed
me to play roles that are not usually played by an Asian female.
The Baker’s Wife in Into the Woods was probably my most favorite
Lyric experience. The Baker’s Wife is traditionally played by
a white female but my goodness, the role is a made-up fairy
tale character. Why can’t she be Asian? I remember going to
the callbacks and thinking I should wear glasses so I could
appear to be a stereotypical “smart Asian” and that would be
my take. Fast forward to the actual production, and I lost the
glasses, any sense of racial identity, and just went to the heart
of the role. Most important was her mission to have, love and
protect her family, a mission any ethnicity can relate to. When
Pacific Overtures became a possibility, Spiro surprised me once
again with his progressive vision by casting a woman in a role
that is traditionally played by a man. Spiro knows that these
opportunities are so much greater than just one person, it’s
about opening the audiences’ eyes of inclusivity and ridding
ourselves of unconscious bias.

What excites you about working on a piece that is rarely
revived due to its complexity?

LY: Ha! You ask me this question after my last show at the Lyric
Stage was Kiss of the Spiderwoman, a musical about a homosexual
window dresser, who is serving his third year in an Argentinian
prison. The Lyric Stage is really highlighting the complex musicals
this year and I am in deep and in love with the challenge.

What does it mean to you to be working with an all-Asian
cast? Have you ever had that experience before?

LY: I spent 5 years performing in Broadway’s Miss Saigon,
performed with the national tours of The King and I and Flower
Drum Song, and I have worked with numerous all-Asian casts
regionally. From the first day of rehearsal, there’s usually this
very comfortable, loving, familial sense, like everyone knows
each other, even if we don’t. Boston is rich with talented and kind
Asian American actors and delving deeper into this community
was a great draw for me to want to do this show.

More About Pacific Overtures

This startling, entertaining, and thrilling masterpiece puts a cap on Spiro Veloudos’ multi-year Sondheim Initiative. An unlikely friendship is forged between a samurai, Kayama, and an Americanized fisherman, Manjiro, during Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan. The two friends are caught in the inevitable winds of change and tell the story of Japan’s painful and harrowing Westernization. A highly original, inventive, powerful, and surprisingly humorous theatrical experience.

“Musical theater at its most intellectually challenging.  Extraordinary songs!”   – NY Times

“It’s enthralling to see Sondheim’s songs work so magically well!” – Huffington Post

About Lisa Yuen, Reciter, Shogun, Storyteller, Emperor

Lisa Yuen* (Reciter, Shogun, Storyteller, Emperor) returns to the Lyric Stage having appeared in Kiss of The Spider Woman, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  Local credits include:  The King and I (North Shore Music Theatre), Ragtime and Mary Poppins (Wheelock Family Theatre), Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (Theatre by the Sea) and New Rep.  Other credits include 7.5 years on Broadway (Miss Saigonand The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.), 4 national tours (The King and I, Flower Drum Song, The Scarlet Pimperneland The Pirates of Penzance), Off-Broadway (Second Stage and York Theatre), Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, regional theatre (including Paper Mill Playhouse, The MUNY, PCLO, and Sacramento Music Circus) and TV/film including 23 episodes as “Rachel” on  All My Children, Body of Proof, The Martha Stewart Show, World Trade Center). Brookline mom to twins.  B.A. from UCLA.  Love and gratitude to Mom, Kevin, family, and friends.  

Why³ with Pacific Overtures Director Spiro Veloudos

We asked all of our directors this season the question “why?” Here are the answers from the director of our upcoming show, Pacific Overtures!

Why Pacific Overtures?

It’s one of the final major Sondheim musicals that I haven’t done (Passion and Merrily We Roll Along are the others.) As we are taking a hiatus from Sondheim musicals, Overtures seems fitting. In addition, its book was written by John Wiedman. I have directed the other two plays written by him with Mr. Sondheim (Assassins and Road Show), so with Overtures I close the circle that started in 1998 with our now famous production of Assassins.

Why at The Lyric Stage?

For the last 20 seasons, The Lyric Stage Company has made a “cottage industry” out of taking musicals that were originally conceived on a large scale and boiling them down to their essence (My Fair Lady, Kiss Me, Kate and Gypsy to name a few.) Overtures had one of the largest casts in its original production. We will scale that down to 11 or 12 without sacrificing this story of the effect of American Imperialism (along with several other western countries) upon Japan, which had isolated itself in 1600 (as described in the opening number).

Why now?

While it would be capricious to compare America’s current actions in foreign affairs to Millard Filmore’s “Gunboat Diplomacy” of 1853, American military influence in many areas (such as the Mideast, Viet Nam, and Korea) might bear comparison. The foisting of the “American Dream” on countries or areas of the world that might not be appreciative of it, and the sometimes tragic consequences of those actions (especially a little over 8 months after the evacuation of Saigon, when Pacific Overtures opened) might have had an influence on the writers. Whether it is opening trade, saving the world from Communism, or just preserving America’s need for oil, Pacific Overtures shines a light on the folly that is sometimes called American foreign policy.

More about Pacific Overtures:

Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan through gunboat diplomacy forges an unlikely friendship between the samurai, Kayama, and the Americanized fisherman, Manjiro. The two of them – and all of Japanese society – must face the wave of Westernization that follows.  Spiro Veloudos puts a cap on his multi-year Sondheim Initiative with this startling, entertaining, and thrilling masterpiece.

“Mr. Sondheim’s songs are complete miniature dramas, loaded and compressed to a profound intensity.” – New York Times

A First Look At Pacific Overtures

We’re busy building the set for Pacific Overtures, but we wanted to share with you a sneak peek of the beautiful set, designed by Janie E. Howland (
United Scenic Artists (USA-Local 829))!

About Pacific Overtures

This startling, entertaining, and thrilling masterpiece puts a cap on Spiro Veloudos’ multi-year Sondheim Initiative. An unlikely friendship is forged between a samurai, Kayama, and an Americanized fisherman, Manjiro, during Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 mission to open trade relations with isolationist Japan. The two friends are caught in the inevitable winds of change and tell the story of Japan’s painful and harrowing Westernization. A highly original, inventive, powerful, and surprisingly humorous theatrical experience.

“Musical theater at its most intellectually challenging.  Extraordinary songs!”   – NY Times

“It’s enthralling to see Sondheim’s songs work so magically well!” – Huffington Post

About Janie E. Howland, Scenic Design

Janie E. Howland** (Scenic Design) has called the Lyric Stage home for 25 years, having recently designed Little Foxes and Anna Christie. Other recent designs: Nat Turner in Jerusalem (ASP), Caroline or Change (Moonbox), Art Makes Sense CONSENSES Exhibit (Mass MOCA), Madeline’s Christmas (BCT), Urban Nutcracker (City Ballet). Other venues: Lynn Redgrave Theatre (NY), Emerson Majestic, New Rep, Weston Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre, Odyssey Opera, Central Square Theatre, Gloucester Stage, SpeakEasy Stage, Ohio Star Theatre, A.R.T. Institute, Boston Conservatory, Company One, Greater Boston Stage Company, Seacoast Rep, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, and Huntington Theatre Studio 210. Brandeis University M.F.A.; four-time Elliot Norton Award winner, four-time IRNE Award winner, adjunct faculty at Emerson College, Wellesley College. USA Local 829. janiehowland.com

Why³ with Paula Plum

We asked all of our directors this season the question “why?” Here are the answers from the director of our upcoming show, Twelfth Night. Photo of Paula Plum by Gary Ng.

Why this play? 

Because we love love stories when they’re both comic and sad. These characters are all looking for love in the wrong places. And for me, it’s send in the clowns: the ASP company members in this play are all the clowns.

Why a co-production with Lyric Stage?

Spiro has said that the future of theatre in this city is collaboration not competition. We all benefit by sharing resources. And plus, I’ve been working at the Lyric Stage since I was 20 and I’m a founding member of ASP. It’s a perfect fit. 

Why now? 

I can’t read or think about this play without thinking that Viola is a refugee who has to disguise herself because she can’t be who she is. It’s such a contemporary theme: the immigrant/refugee who has to change their identity in order to survive.

About Director Paula Plum

Paula Plum (Director) is a founding member of Actors’ Shakespeare Project and has worked as an actor and director with the Lyric Stage since 1975. She has been Artistic Director of WGBH’s A Christmas Celtic Sojourn since its inception in 2003, touring concerts throughout New England during the holiday season. She has directed in Paris, New York, and Boston and is the 2009 recipient of the Fox Actor Fellowship. In the last year she has directed the Leonard Bernstein Centennial Celebration for the Boston Pops and Reclaiming Lucretia for Boston Lyric Opera. Paula is the recipient of the Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence, five IRNE Awards, three Elliot Norton Awards for Outstanding Actress, and was the 2003 Distinguished Alumna of Boston University’s College of Fine Arts. paulaplum.com

About Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is a tale of unrequited love – hilarious and heartbreaking. Twins are separated during a shipwreck and are forced to fend for themselves in a strange land. The first twin, Viola, falls in love with Orsino, who dotes on Olivia, who falls for Viola but is idolized by Malvolio. Enter Sebastian, who is the spitting image of his twin sister… is it possible for this to all end well?   Well, it IS a comedy!

A co-production with Actors’ Shakespeare Project.

“If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it.”  – William Shakespeare

“She’s a Bit Like a Tennessee Williams’ Character Plopped into the Wrong Play” | Amelia Broome on “Birdie” in The Little Foxes

Amelia Broome, Craig Mathers, and Anne Gottlieb in The Little Foxes. Photos by Mark S. Howard.

If Regina Giddens is the complex and compelling anti-hero at the heart of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes, her sister-in-law, Birdie is her charming dramatic foil.

We sat down with Ameila Broome to learn how she brings Birdie to life in this great American hurricane of a play!

About Amelia Broome

Ameila Broome* (Birdie) has appeared at the Lyric Stage in Sweeny Todd, Rich Girl, and Kiss Me, Kate. Recent credits:  Fiddler on the RoofMaster Class (New Rep), Spring Awakening, My Old Lady (Gloucester Stage), Steel Magnolias (Next Door Theatre), Next Fall, Adding Machine: a Musical, The Light in the Piazza [IRNE Award, Best Actress], Jerry Springer-The Opera, (SpeakEasy Stage), Two Wives in India(Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), and Tea at Five (Worcester Foothills Theater). She holds an M.F.A. from Boston University and is currently on the acting faculty at Emerson College. Originally from Georgia, Ms. Broome resides in Wilmington with her husband, John Silberman.

The Little Foxes Must Close Sunday, March 17th!

Theatre Talk with Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino of The Little Foxes

The Little Foxes stars Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino sat down for an installment of Theatre Talk and were brilliant! Check out the full interview above and then see them on stage, now through March 17th!

About Michael John Ciszewski – Leo

Photo of Michael John Ciszewski

Michael John Ciszewski (Leo) is making his Lyric Stage debut. Recent credits: Peter and the Starcatcher (Hub Theatre Company of Boston), Midsummer Night’s DreamThree Sisters (Apollinaire Theatre Company), Antigone (Flat Earth Theatre), Citizens of the Empire (Boston Public Works), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Holiday Memories (New Rep). Michael trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and is a proud graduate of Boston University’s B.F.A Theatre Arts program. michaeljohnciszewski.com@micjcis

About Rosa Procaccino

Photo of Rosa Procaccino

Rosa Procaccino (Alexandra) is making her Lyric Stage debut. Rosa’s New York credits include Appointment with Death (The Gallery Players), Jerry Finnegan’s Sister (Emerging Artists Festival), Express, and A Fine Line (Manhattan Repertory Theatre)A recent graduate of Northeastern University her other credits include The Glass MenagerieAfter Miss JulieAfter the EndMr. Burns, and Romeo and Juliet.

Photo of Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino speaking
Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino in The Little Foxes. Photo by Mark S. Howard.
Photo of Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino sitting down and speaking
Michael John Ciszewski, Amelia Broome, and Rosa Procaccino in The Little Foxes. Photo by Mark S. Howard.
The cast sitting in the living room talking

DigBoston Review of The Little Foxes: The Fangs That Bind

This post is excerpted from the full DigBoston review section.

★★★★★

Lillian Hellman’s thrilling 1939 play about the greed that tears apart a Southern family has been given a first-rate revival at the Lyric Stage Company in a profoundly impressive production directed by Scott Edmiston.

Anne Gottlieb is a forest fire as Regina, a woman willing to do anything—and step over anyone’s dead body—for a chunk of change. It’s a role that was originated by Tallulah Bankhead and immortalized by Bette Davis, and Gottlieb ably makes the role her own, albeit with an impressive pair of fangs.

One of the best-acted productions in recent memory, this ensemble of actors is the finest assembled in several seasons. Amelia Broome is luminous as Regina’s damaged alcoholic sister, and Cheryl D. Singleton finds unimaginable beauty in the smallest moments as Regina’s maid, Addie. Also impressive are Michael John Ciszewski and Rosa Procaccino, who play two cousins at opposite ends of the morality spectrum. While Procaccino is new to me, Ciszewski is not, and he once again shows why he’s one of the most promising young actors on the Boston theater scene.

Janie E. Howland has designed the best set I’ve seen on the Lyric’s stage, and with Karen Perlow’s lighting and Dewey Dellay’s original music, this production is gloriously cinematic.

The Little Foxes is that rare classic that shows virtually no signs of age. And with this Edmiston home run, this is as close to a must-see as it gets.

THE LITTLE FOXES. THROUGH 3.17 AT THE LYRIC STAGE, 140 CLARENDON ST., BOSTON. LYRICSTAGE.COM

Winthrop Transcript Review

Run. Take the T. Drive. Call a transportation service. However you get there, don’t miss Lyric Stage Company of Greater Boston’s superb pro­duction of Lillian Hellman’s classic play, “The Little Fox­es”.  theater at its best.”

Screenshot of the review by Sheila Barth

The Life of Lillian Hellman

by Aliza Kenney

At the age of 15, Lillian Hellman stole a ring from her uncle which she pawned in order to buy books. When she confessed what she had done, her uncle said, “So you’ve got spirit after all. Most of the rest of them are made of sugar water.” This statement would go on to define Hellman’s life, and indeed, she used the line in The Little Foxes to describe her enigmatic heroine, Regina Giddens. Hellman was a fiercely unapologetic, intelligent, headstrong woman in an age when such behavior was met with shock, scorn, and condescension. She fought her whole career to be taken seriously as an artist and a public figure.

Photo of Lillian Hellman sitting in a chair in her home
UNITED STATES – APRIL 16: Author Lillian Hellman at home on Park Ave. (Photo by Dan Jancino/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

At the age of just 29, Hellman was the first woman to be admitted to the Club of American Dramatists after the huge success of her first play, The Children’s Hour. Yet much of her work, particularly The Little Foxes, has been discredited as “merely melodrama.” Some critics dismiss the dramatic plot and larger-than-life characters as too simplistic, comparing her work to the more down to earth, gritty work of her male contemporaries. They imply in their reviews that her gender limited her ability to tell complex, logical stories. But Hellman’s melodramatic style was intentional and effective. In an interview she reflected, “If you believe, as the Greeks did, that man is at the mercy of the Gods, then you write tragedy. The end is inevitable from the beginning. But if you believe that man can solve his own problems and is at nobody’s mercy, then you will probably write melodrama.” Despite detractors, her melodramas were highly successful, annd earned her a place in theater history.

Photo of a younger Lillian Hellman
Lillian Hellman

In 1952, Hellman was called in from of the House Committee on Un-American Activities along with many artists and writers of the time. Her Communist connections and history of political leftism made her an ideal target. In fact, the themes of greed and corruption in The Little Foxes were touted as evidence of her Socialist tendencies. She agreed to testify, but only about her own activities. In a letter to the committee she said, “to hurt innocent people whom I knew many years ago in order to save myself is, to me, inhuman and dishonorable.” She risked imprisonment for contempt of Congress, was blacklisted, and saw her income drop from $150,000 a year to virtually nothing. Still, she stood by her actions, declaring, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” This move gained her respect and support on the left, but only served to confirm the worst assumptions of her doubters. To this day some have written her off as a “lying, Stalinist traitor.”

A screenshot of the cover of Lillian Hellman's Memoir "An Unfinished Woman" with her sitting down

Hellman was not immune to the antics that seemed to go hand in hand with literary celebrity at the time. In the same era when Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal were coming to blows in talk show green rooms and at parties, Hellman found an enemy in novelist, critic, and political activist Mary McCarthy. In 1979 during an interview on The Dick Cavett Show, McCarthy laughingly declared, “Every word she writes is a lie, including ‘and’ and ‘the,’” a comment which led to a long drawn-out lawsuit between the two women, which only ended when Hellman died.) Cavett himself said, “No one was neutral about Lillian. She had a famous friendship with Dorothy Parker, yet to Jean Stafford she was ‘Old Scaly Bird.’”

The Cover of Lillian Hellman's book "Pimento"

Even when she moved on from playwriting, Hellman continued to ruffle feathers. In her later years she wrote three memoirs about different eras in her life: An Unfinished Woman, Pentimento, and Scoundrel Time. These books were even more popular than her plays, but the veracity of her stories was intensely debated. One chapter in Pentimento in particular led to a debate which haunts Hellman’s reputation to this day. It reflects on her relationship with a woman named Julia, and recounts that Hellman once smuggled $50,000 to her to be used in bribing Nazi guards to free prisoners. After the book’s release, Dr. Muriel Gardiner, a psychoanalyst who was active in the Austrian underground in World War II, suggested that her experience was the model for the Hellman story, though the two had never met. Hellman dismissed these accusations, claiming that that Gardiner “may have been the model for somebody else’s Julia, but she was certainly not the model for my Julia.”

Lillian Hellman and her long time partner Dashiell Hammett sitting and drinking

        Hellman split opinion and attracted the limelight all her life. At some points, she seemed to revel in the experience, at others she seemed to have been exhausted by the whole facade. She once quoted Dashiell Hammett, her long-time lover, as telling her, “The truth is you don’t like the theater except the times when you’re in a room by yourself putting the play on paper.” Though the apparent contradictions of her life may never be explained, some insight into the truth behind the imposing figure may be found in the stories she brought to life on stage. Above all else, she certainly had spirit, in a world of people made of sugar water.

More about The Little Foxes:

Lillian Hellman’s classic drama captures the riveting story of how a family’s vicious pursuit of financial success destroys the American Dream. In the post-Civil War South, Regina Giddens and her scheming brothers, Oscar and Ben, want to partner on a business deal to exploit the poor and increase their already substantial wealth. There is only one problem: Regina’s husband, Horace, refuses to give them the funds they need — setting in motion a vicious game of duplicitous dealings that ultimately leads to death. A timely story about corrosion of the soul and corruption of the heart.