By Ensemble Playwright Joel Drake Johnson
Kevin Anderson returns for a rare Chicago appearance in A Guide For The Perplexed, the newest play by the author of our 2008 smash hit, Four Places. Anderson plays Doug, a newly released convict who takes up reluctant residence with his sister’s husband, teenage son, and a tank of tropical fish. Doug’s rehabilitation process, absurdly funny and heartbreakingly sad, is by no means limited to the ex-con. When his over-heated female pen pal arrives bearing gifts, the play explores the characters’ mutual feelings of pain, guilt and fear which lead to a tenuous recovery, both hopeful and real. A Guide For The Perplexed also features favorite Chicago actor Francis Guinan.
What the Audience is saying:
About The Play
“I love you,” Shelia blurts into her cell phone. “No you don’t,” sighs her brother as he hangs up.
Just released from prison, Doug has reason to doubt Shelia: she didn’t pick him up as promised, and Doug has spent the last few hours at one of the questionable motels that line the northern end of Lincoln Ave. “If this is my new life, then execute me,” complains Doug with comic exaggeration.
Shelia didn’t just abandon Doug, however. She’s in New York on business, trying to keep the family afloat from afar. Her husband Philip is out of work, having been accused of theft at the office. It is Philip who will pick up Doug, and get him settled in the den next to the tank of tropical fish.
As Philip reviews the rules of the house (don’t feed the fish, lock the sliding door with a board, no cursing) he and Doug awkwardly attempt to connect over gardening, trashy romance novels, and West Side Story.
Included in this collection of perplexed souls is Philip’s son Andrew, a brilliant gay teen who is being systematically tormented by classmates at school. Unable to get the answers he needs from his emotionally distant parents, Andrew seeks advice from Doug.
And then there is Betty, Doug’s prison pen pal. She is convinced that she knows the true Doug through his poems and letters, and is coming to meet him face to face for the first time. Betty believes in new beginnings and the possibility of happiness. Doug isn’t so sure. Neither is anyone else in the family, for that matter. But where there is uncertainty, there is also hope.
When you first meet the characters in A Guide For The Perplexed, you are meeting people who know they have come close to self-destruction. They recognize this in each other. And in their own strange, sometimes warped way, they try to guide each other to a new kind of strength and bravery.
Please join us for one of our Access performances. Read more about our access services.
|Audio Descriptions for patrons who are blind or have low vision
Friday, August 6 at 8 pm | Sunday, August 15 at 3 pm
(On-stage touch tour begins 1-1/2 hour before the show)
|Word for Word Captioning for patrons who are hearing impaired
Wednesday, August 4 at 2pm | Friday, August 13 at 8 pm | Saturday, August 14 at 5 pm
|Sign Language Interpretation for patrons who are hearing impaired
Friday, August 13 at 8 pm
Audience Events Learn more about A Guide For The Perplexed at these events. Admission is complimentary with your ticket stub.
Thursday, July 1, 6pm
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek at rehearsal, followed by a talkback and a reception.
Thursday, July 15 and 22, 6 pm discussion; 7:30 pm show
Join Dr. Jonathan Shailor, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside for a pre-show discussion. He is the founder and director of the Shakespeare Prison Project which provides inmates with the opportunity to study, rehearse and perform full-length plays by Shakespeare.
Friday, July 30 at 6:30pm
Join Victory Gardens for live music, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres prior to the performance.
Post Show Discussions
Join members of the cast and VG Artistic Team in a post-play discussion Wednesdays after Opening Night.
Phillip ......................................................................................................................Francis Guinan*
Sheila ..........................................................................................................................Meg Thalken*
*Denotes a member of Actors’ Equity Association,the union of professional actors and stage managers.
KEVIN ANDERSON (Doug) is thrilled to be back home in Chicago at Victory Gardens Theater working with Sandy Shinner . Sandy cast him in his first play as an Equity actor right here in Close Ties. He has just returned from a year in Dublin , Ireland and London ’s West End having played Andy Dufresne in a new stage adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption. He has been a Steppenwolf ensemble member since 1984. Kevin’s first career breakthrough came in the Steppenwolf production of Orphans as the semiliterate, frenetic brother Phillip. This took him from Chicago to New York City to London ’s West End and the eventual movie with Albert Finney. Since then he has starred in an eclectic array and wide range of material, from plays and musicals in London ’s West End, to Broadway and off-Broadway, to Hollywood opposite some of the biggest names in the business including Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Julia Roberts, Naomi Watts, Jessica Lange, and Michelle Pfeiffer. He has worked with directors as diverse as Sir Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, and Mike Figgis to Norman Jewison, Danny DeVito, and Alan Pakula. He is perhaps best known for his performance as Father Ray, the maverick, self-doubting Catholic priest in ABC’s ill-fated TV series Nothing Sacred for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe Award. Other notable performances include Sleeping with the Enemy, Hoffa as Bobby Kennedy, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard with Patti LuPone, and Death of a Salesman on Broadway for which he won a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award, and was nominated for a Tony. Most recently, he was seen as Doc on Broadway in Come Back, Little Sheba for which he was nominated for an Outer Critics Award, and at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut with Olympia Dukakis in The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. He is eagerly awaiting the finished cut of Wilde Salome, Al Pacino’s docudrama of Oscar Wilde’s Salome in which he plays John the Baptist opposite Al Pacino’s King Herod. He last appeared in Chicago in the summer of 2004 in Steppenwolf’s I Never Sang for My Father with John Mahoney. Other credits include the films Charlotte’s Web, Carried Away, When Strangers Appear, Doe Boy, Gregory’s 2 Girls, A Thousand Acres, Eye of God, Firelight, The Night We Never Met, Rising Sun, Liebestraum, In Country, Miles from Home, and Risky Business. TV: Skin, Power and Beauty, Monday Night Mayhem, Ruby’s Bucket of Blood, Hunt for the Unicorn Killer, The Wrong Man, and Orpheus Descending. Theater: New York: Summer and Smoke, Brooklyn, Speaking in Tongues, The Red Address, Orpheus Descending, Brilliant Traces, Moonchildren; London: Dinner with Friends, Sunset Boulevard; Chicago: Earthly Possessions, Pal Joey, Three Sisters, Our Town, and One Shining Moment.
CYNTHIA BAKER (Betty) returns to Victory Gardens where, in the spring of 1975, she co-created and appeared in Three Women. Originally a work-in-progress in collaboration with the Goodman Theatre, Three Women later played to extended runs at Goodman, Organic, Victory Gardens , and the Ruth Page Center . Other Goodman credits include Night of the Iguana, A Doll’s House, and originating the role of Stacey in Tennessee Williams’ final play, A House Not Meant to Stand and its initial one-act, Some Problems Down At the Moose Lodge, which later went to the Miami New World Festival of the Arts. Other Chicago and regional credits include: Hillbilly Antigone at Lookingglass, Copenhagen at Madison Repertory, Steppenwolf’s As I Lay Dying, Steel Magnolias at the Royal George and Apollo, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid at St. Nicholas, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and The Big Knife at Arlington Park, for which she received a Jefferson nomination for her role as Dixie Evans, and Chicago Theatre Project’s The Pornographer’s Daughter. Film: HBO’s Normal, Disney’s Children on Their Birthdays, U.S. Marshals, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Fugitive, Risky Business, Naked Face, The Killing Floors, Ordinary People, and Chicago Film Festival Award winner Where is Dead? TV: “Early Edition,” “Missing Persons,” “In the Name of Love,” “The Untouchables,” “ Angel Street ,” “ Chicago Story,” and the “The Isaiah Thomas Story.”
FRANCIS GUINAN (Philip) Mr. Guinan is honored to be making his first appearance at Victory Gardens in A Guide For The Perplexed. He has been an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company since 1979. His recent appearances with Steppenwolf have been as Nagg in Endgame, directed by Frank Galati; as Donny in American Buffalo, directed by Amy Morton; as Arthur Conan Doyle and Jonathan Cole in Fake, written and directed by Eric Simonson; as Marc in Art, directed by Rick Snyder; as Col. Sanders and Johnny Walker in Kafka On the Shore, directed by Frank Galati; as Sharkey in The Seafarer directed by Randal Arney; and as Charlie in the Broadway production of August: Osage County, directed by Anna Shapiro.. Later this season he will be appearing at the Goodman Theatre in The Seagull, directed by Bob Falls . In January he will appear at Writers’ Theatre in Do the Hustle, a new play by Brett Neveu directed by Bill Brown. Also in 2011, Mr. Guinan will appear with American Blues Theater in Rantoul and Die and at Steppenwolf Theatre in their production of Middletown. Scheduled for release this summer is The Last Airbender, a film by M. Night Shaymalam. In it, Mr. Guinan appears as Master Pakku. For Kate, always.
MEG THALKEN (Sheila) A Guide For The Perplexed marks Meg’s eleventh show for Victory Gardens where she has also appeared in Four Places, Symmetry, Hanging Fire, Cahoots (with Sharon Gless), Winter (with Julie Harris), Voice of Good Hope, View of the Dome, Working Magic, Still Waters, The Long Awaited, and the Chicago Theatres on the Air production of Emma’s Child. Elsewhere she has appeared in Don Juan in Hell for Northlight, The Heidi Chronicles at both National Jewish Theater and the Halsted Theatre Center, Solomon’s Choice at NJT, My Fat Friend at Pheasant Run, Life with Father at the Drury Lane McCormick Place, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Laundry and Bourbon at Travel Light, and Bagtime at Wisdom Bridge. TV Credits include her recurring role of helicopter Nurse McManus on ER, as well as roles on What About Joan?, Turks, Chicago Hope, Early Edition, EZ Streets, The Untouchables, Chicago Story, Jack & Mike, Justice Greylord Style, The Richard Speck Case and Through Naked Eyes. Film work includes the award winning short Check Please, as well as Dragonfly, U.S. Marshals, Poltergeist III, A Family Thing, The Babe, Class and the recently released film version of Claudia Allen’s Hannah Free, starring Sharon Gless. Meg teaches acting and scene study at Columbia College and is heard regularly in a variety of roles on The Twilight Zone on radio stations across the country. She is married to film and TV production designer Gary Baugh, and they have two daughters, Molly and Riley. Meg is a proud member of Actors Equity since 1978.
BUBBA WEILER (Andrew) is thrilled to return to Victory Gardens where he performed in A Park in Our House and I Sailed With Magellan. Other Chicago credits include Graceland (Profiles Theatre), Picnic (Writers’ Theatre), Hecuba (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), Dandelion Wine (Chicago Children’s Theatre), Talking Pictures and The Actor (Goodman Theatre). New York stage credits include The Burnt Part Boys (Vineyard Theatre) and a workshop presentation of a new musical, SCK BSTD (Playwrights Horizons). Bubba’s film credits include Sony/Lifetime’s America and three Columbia MFA thesis films, Hidden Hearts, Tinsel, and Educating Cooper.
Creative Team Biographies
JOEL DRAKE JOHNSON (Playwright) is one of the newest members of Chicago 's Victory Gardens Theater Playwrights Ensemble. The critically acclaimed, Jeff nominated Four Places was produced by Victory Gardens in the spring of 2008. It is currently playing in LA where it has received unanimous praise from the critics and an extended run. His earlier works at VG, Before My Eyes and The End of the Tour, were also Jeff-nominated for Best New Play and all three plays were directed by Sandy Shinner , Victory Gardens Associate Artistic Director. Johnson has won three Illinois Arts Council grants including one for A Blue Moon, which was first produced at Chicago Dramatists and also Jeff nominated for best new work. He got his start as a writer at Chicago ’s critically acclaimed Econo-Art Theater, which (under the leadership of Lynn Baber, Barb Reeder and Marc Silvia) produced such plays as Beautiful Dreamer. His other plays include As the Beaver, first produced by Zebra Crossing, and The Fall to Earth (Rick Snyder, dir.) which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre and featured Tony Award Winner Rondi Reed. It was subsequently produced at The Penguin Rep, directed by Joe Brancato and featuring Tony Award Winner, Michelle Pawk. Steppenwolf later produced A Blameless Life (Anna Shapiro, dir.) and Tranquillity Woods (Sandy Shinner, dir.) as part of their 2005 and 2007 First Look Repertory. He has taught playwriting at Northwestern University, DePaul University and Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. He lives in Chicago and New Buffalo, Michigan where he is working on two new plays: The First Grade which was produced by the Aurora Theatre Company in the winter of 2010 and The Boys Room, a part of Northlight Theatre's Interplay and Steppenwolf Theatre's First Look reading series and now a part of Victory Gardens 2010-11 season. Johnson is a member of The Dramatists Guild and PEN America.
SANDY SHINNER (Director, Associate Artistic Director) has been with Victory Gardens for more than 30 years and, with Dennis Zacek and Marcelle McVay, was honored to accept the 2001 Tony Award® for Outstanding Regional Theatre on behalf of the theater. This world premiere marks her fifth collaboration with Joel: Four Places, The End of the Tour, Before My Eyes, all at Victory Gardens , and Tranquillity Woods for Steppenwolf’s First Look series. Most recently, she produced the inaugural IGNITION Festival which launched The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz and Year Zero by Michael Golamco. Last season, she directed Aditi Brennan Kapil’s Love Person for VGT, a showcase production of Jeffrey Sweet’s Flyovers at New York ’s 78th Street Theatre Lab and codirected (with Jessica Thebus) the revival of Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl. Other recent directing projects include the world premieres of I Sailed with Magellan adapted by Claudia Allen from Stuart Dybek’s novel, Memory House by Kathleen Tolan (Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival and VGT) and Trying by Joanna McClelland Glass, which transferred from Victory Gardens to off- Broadway’s Promenade Theatre. She directed the world premiere of Jeffrey Sweet’s Bluff here as well as at the 78th Street Theatre Lab in NewYork and Phoenix Theatre. Ms. Shinner is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and was a finalist for the Joe A. Callaway Director’s Award for the New York production of Trying. She is an editor of Victory Gardens Presents: Seven Plays from the Playwrights Ensemble, which was published by Northwestern University Press. She has been an adjunct professor at DePaul and directed the world premiere of The Civic by Patrick McLean at DePaul this spring.
JEFFREY BAUER (Scenic Design) has designed for most of Chicago 's professional theater, opera, and dance companies, including Court Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Wisdom Bridge , Northlight, Remains Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, The Lyric Opera, Hubbard Street Dance and Ballet Chicago. Mr. Bauer served as the resident designer at The Body Politic Theatre during its heyday, at Court Theatre for six years, and has received the Joseph Jefferson Award for Best Scene Design (Pygmalion at Court Theatre) along with four nominations. For the past twenty-five years Mr. Bauer's work has been devoted to creating designs for new works and world premieres in opera, ballet, and theater. Such noted productions as: The Picture of Dorian Gray and Show Biz at Wisdom Bridge , Frida: the Last Portrait, Comedians and Gross Indecency at Court Theatre. Among his dozens of designs at Victory Gardens are Still Waters, The Long Awaited, Winter and Fossils (both with Julie Harris) and Trying (also in New York and Washington). Collaborations with Hubbard Street Dance include three world premieres, and most noted are his designs for Ballet Chicago's The Gift Of The Magi and In A Nutshell, Gesualdo with PBS (Emmy Nomination), and Dracula, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cinderella, Can Can and Peter Pan (Grand Rapids Ballet) as well 6 years of collaborations on new dance works in Ann Arbor. Recent credits include Jack The Ripper (World Premiere, Grand Rapids Ballet), Love Person ( Victory Gardens ), and The Elixir of Love ( Ann Arbor ). Mr. Bauer received his BFA in Theatre and Music from Jacksonville University and an MFA in design from Northwestern University . He is co-founder and Artistic Associate of RPM Productions and is on the design faculty at The Theatre School at DePaul University.
CAROL J. BLANCHARD (Costume Design) is returning to Victory Gardens Theater, where her work was last seen in Jacob and Jack. She has designed Cleveland Symphony’s Blossom Opera’s Falstaff, Skylight Opera’s La Traviata, La Boheme, The Barber of Seville, and The Marriage of Figaro, New York’s Hillman Opera’s Hansel and Gretel, Shakespeare in the Park’s Much Ado About Nothing and A Winter’s Tale, First Stage Children’s Theatre’s Seussical and The Sleeping Beauty, Karamu Theatre’s Devil Mas and Hamlet Jones, and the Champlain Shakespeare Festival’s Love’s Labours Lost and The Importance of Being Earnest. Her Chicago credits include Goodman Theatre/Silk Road Theatre’s Yohen, Drury Lane’s Barefoot in the Park and Of Thee I Sing, Porchlight Music Theatre’s Sweeney Todd, Pacific Overtures and Once on This Island, Appletree Theatre’s Wings and Match, PTAP’s 7 Doors and Einstein’s Dreams and The Silk Road Theatre Project’s Caravaggio, Merchant On Venice, Golden Child and Pangs of the Messiah. She has been honored with a Joseph Jefferson Award for Costume Design and an After Dark Award. She is a Professor Emeritus of Design at The State University of New York.
TODD HENSLEY (Lighting Designer) has designed many productions with Victory Gardens , including: Fossils; Rain, River, Ice, Steam; Hauptmann (Chicago and New York productions); Cahoots; Wheatley; and The Romance of Magno Rubio. Recent productions include Go, Dog. Go! for Chicago Children’s Theatre, The Lady With All the Answers for Northlight Theatre, La Rondine for The Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, and Carmen for Washington National Opera. He has designed operas for companies including Minnesota Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Wolf Trap Opera, Skylight Opera Theatre, and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Todd is a partner with Schuler Shook Theatre Planners and was proud to lead its team for Victory Gardens at the Biograph. Other Schuler Shook projects include Lookingglass Theatre, Millennium Park ’s Pritzker Pavilion and the upcoming theater building for DePaul University.
ANDRE PLUESS (Sound Design) is based in Chicago. Credits include numerous productions for Court Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre (Artistic Associate), Victory Gardens Theater (Resident Designer), About Face Theatre (Artistic Associate), Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Northlight Theatre, and many other Chicago and regional theaters. Broadway credits: Metamorphoses, I Am My Own Wife, 33 Variations and The Clean House at the Lincoln Center. Mr. Pluess has received multiple Joseph Jefferson Awards and Citations, an L.A. Ovation Award, Barrymore Award, Drama Critics Circle Award, and Drama Desk/Lortel nominations for composition and sound design. Recent projects include: Legacy of Light at Arena Stage, Ghostwritten at the Goodman Theatre, After the Quake at Steppenwolf, Long Wharf, La Jolla, and Berkeley Rep; Argonautika at Lookingglass, McCarter, Berkeley Rep, and Shakespeare Theatre Company; The Lost Boys of Sudan at Victory Gardens and Children’s Theatre Company in Minnesota; The Clay Cart at OSF; A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Cal Shakes; and Endgame at Steppenwolf Theatre. Upcoming projects include: Equivocation at Seattle Rep, Merchant of Venice and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof both at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing both at the California Shakespeare Festival.
GRANT SABIN (Prop Designer) primarily works as a set designer in Chicago , but also acts as the charge scenic artist at Pegasus Players Theatre. He has had the great opportunity to teach scenic painting for Northwestern University ’s Cherubs Program. He’s a company member and resident set designer for Dog and Pony Theatre designing their past productions of God’s Ear, Ape, Mr. Marmalade (Jeff Award Nominee), Dead City, Osama the Hero, and Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake). He’s a graduate of Columbia College , with a BFA in theatre design, where he was awarded the 2005 Michael Merritt scholarship for collaboration in theatre design. Recent set design credits include: Sweet Tea, About Face; Garage Rep, Steppenwolf; It’s A Wonderful Life, American Blues Theatre; Lucinda’s Bed, Chicago Dramatists; Assistant Set Design for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Chicago Shakespeare; Whiff of Anarchy, The Seldoms; The U.N. Inspector, Next Theatre; Forbidden Broadway, Royal George; Dashiell Hamlet, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Juniper Tree, City Lit; Augusta, ATC; A Prayer for My Daughter, The 4 –H Club/ Cowboy Mouth, Mary-Arrchie; Crossing California, Lifeline Theatre; Faster, Thief River, The Side Project; Blasted, The Sea Horse (Jeff Award Nominee), A Red Orchid Theatre; Leaving Iowa, Royal George Theatre and The Overture Center, WI; and The Gift, Chicago Ballet. grantsabindesign.com
TINA M. JACH (Production Stage Manager) is excited to continue her eleventh season stage managing for Victory Gardens Theater. Some of her credits include The Lost Boys of Sudan, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, Eurydice, IGNITION Festival, Relatively Close, Four Places, I Sailed With Magellan, Cynical Weathers, The Snow Queen, Denmark, Half and Half, Cradle of Man, Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams, Memory House, Symmetry, Berlin ’45, Hanging Fire, The Family Gold, Trying, Affluenza!, Anna in the Tropics, The End of the Tour, Unspoken Prayers, God and Country, The Old Man’s Friend, Glamour House, Immoral Imperatives, Fossils, Hay Fever, Blissfield, Cahoots, and Knock Me a Kiss. Some other Chicago credits include Collected Stories, Belfry, An American Daughter, and Coming of the Hurricane. Tina completed her MFA in stage management at Rutgers University . Other stage management credits include Don Giovanni, Hedda Gabler, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. Tina has also worked in Business Theater. Tina is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
|Elizabeth Barrett Browning|
by Jake Lindquist
Barrett and Browning, Napoleon and Josephine--all found or established love in their letter writing. I know because I looked and looked for as many examples as possible to make sure I wasn’t just making it all up inside my overextended mind.
-- Betty in A Guide For The Perplexed
Betty and Doug have been exchanging letters while he has been in prison. In A Guide For The Perplexed they meet face to face for the first time. Both Doug and his brother-in-law Philip express skepticism about Betty’s feelings. But Betty has a point about the power of romance via letter – even if her examples involve heartbreak.
Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning
Browning’s first letter to Barrett began “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett,--and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write,--whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius…”
Barrett and Browning were two of the foremost poets of the Victorian Era. Their courtship began in 1844 when Robert sent Elizabeth a letter praising her work Poems. Robert continued to write letters and expressed that his love went beyond poetry. Elizabeth was hesitant, considering she was an invalid and six years his elder. They continued to communicate through letters and met face to face in 1845. During the 20 months of their courtship, the couple exchanged nearly 600 letters. They married secretly in 1846. When the marriage was made known, Elizabeth’s father disowned her, as he did with all his daughters who married. Elizabeth and Robert moved to Italy where they continued to live and write until their deaths.
Napoleon Bonaparte and Marie-Josephe-Rose de Beauharnais (Josephine)
Napoleon –a Major-General in the French army- was ambitious and believed he needed a rich wife to achieve his goals. Josephine saw a potential patron in Napoleon. A letter from Napoleon to Josephine in 1795, the year they became lovers begins: “I awake full of you. Your image and the memory of last night’s intoxicating pleasures has left no rest to my senses.”
They were married in 1796, just prior to Napoleon taking command of the French army in Italy. He continued to write her during the Italian campaign, even as Josephine was rumored to be having an affair with an army officer.
Despite an apparent reconciliation, Napoleon began to take lovers in retaliation. Napoleon and Josephine became Emperor and Empress in 1804. When a mistress became pregnant, the heir-minded Napoleon realized Josephine’s lack of children was not his fault, and he began to think of divorce.
Napoleon and Josephine were divorced in 1809. By 1814 Napoleon was defeated in war and in exile. In May of 1814, Josephine caught a cold, which progressed into diphtheria. Despite doctor’s care, Josephine died. After his return from exile, Napoleon visited Josephine’s garden and collected violets (her signature flower), which he would wear in his locket until his death.
Jack London and Anna Strunsky
At another point in the play, Betty quotes a letter from Jack London to Anna Strunksy: “you elude me. I cannot place you, cannot grasp you.”
Jack London, born in 1876, was author of such classics as The Call of The Wild, and White Fang. Rising out of a life of hard working poverty, London spent time in a variety as roles: a hobo, a sailor, a war correspondent, and pioneer in commercial magazine fiction. In part because of his experiences with the working poor, he was also a passionate socialist.
In 1899 Jack met author and socialist activist Anna Strunsky. Part of a group of San Francisco intellectuals known as “The Crowd,” some thought their relationship might lead to marriage. Jack surprised them by marrying Bess Maddern in 1900.
Anna and Jack continued their friendship, collaborating on a novel in the form of letters they published anonymously in 1903. The novel, The Kempton-Wace Letters, is a debate on the nature of love. The woman correspondent defines love in terms of romance, while the man defines it in terms of biology.
Jake Linqduist graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago in May 2009 with a B.F.A. in Acting. He most recently assistant directed for TUTA's production of “The Wedding” by Bertolt Brecht. He is a Literary/Artistic Intern with Victory Gardens Theater.
Joel Drake Johnson, a Chicago playwright on the cusp at age 60
Ex-Stevenson teacher devotes time to writing
Local actor makes return to Chicago theater
Gurnee native Kevin Anderson has had a roller-coaster career
VG Press Release
World Premiere of The Guide For The Perplexed Begins July 9
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