Battle Hymn, Charting a Pregnancy That Lasts 150 Years, to Premiere in L.A.

News   Battle Hymn, Charting a Pregnancy That Lasts 150 Years, to Premiere in L.A. Circle X Theatre Co. in Hollywood will present the world premiere of Battle Hymn, billed as a fantastical epic about a young girl's "amazing pregnancy and kaleidoscopic journey through history," Jan. 15-Feb. 21, 2009.

Award-winning playwright Jim Leonard (The Diviners, CBS's Close to Home") created a tale that spans time between the Civil War and the beginning of the 21st century. John Langs directs. Performances will play the 87-seat venue [Inside] the Ford. Opening is Jan. 17.

This is the second production (following Song of Extinction) in the 2008-09 season of new plays that is part of the Ford partnership program with L.A. County-based performing arts organizations.

According to production notes, "On the eve of the Civil War, 16-year-old Martha (Los Angeles newcomer Suzy Jane Hunt) finds herself pregnant and ostracized. As Martha travels through and fights in the Civil War, she settles on one incontrovertible fact: she will not raise her baby in a blood-soaked, violent country. Martha stays pregnant for over a century, until she arrives in San Francisco in 1967. For a moment Martha thinks she's landed in heaven, but before she knows it, half the world is at war once again. From the mud and the blood of Fort Sumter to singing cows and the summer of love, Martha's journey embodies the tragedy, humor and hope that have shaped the last 150 years of U.S. history."

Original music is by Michael Levine. The play features Bill Heck, Robert Manning, Jr., William Salyers and John Short.

"The Civil War revolutionized American culture," playwright Leonard said in production notes. "Lincoln emancipated slaves as an act of war against states that were trying to secede from the Union. The freedom that resulted was terrifying for a nation in which the idea that all men are truly created equal was incomprehensible at the time. It changed the course of American society, eventually leading to women's suffrage, gay rights — and even gay marriage." Director Langs, who previously directed The Brothers Karamzov and Eurydice for Circle X, describes Battle Hymn as "an incredible adventure story — a harrowing tale of courage that takes on all kinds of sociopolitical and gender-based stereotypes in hilarious ways."

Leonard's published plays include The Diviners; And They Dance Real Slow in Jackson; V & V Only; Home Base; Crow and Weasel; and Anatomy of Gray. Theatrical honors include two NEA Fellowships; a New York Villager Award; the Midland Writers Award; and the Dramatists Guild Award. He wrote the screenplay for Mira Nair's award-winning film "My Own Country." He created and executive produced the television series "Close to Home," "Skin" and "Thieves."

Circle X is a not-for-profit ensemble theater company "dedicated to highly provocative and theatrical productions of new and rarely-seen plays. The company's emphasis on innovation goes beyond the selection of thought-provoking, highly challenging plays and extends into everything from design, performance and direction to administration and marketing, creating the unique aesthetic for which Circle X is known."

The Battler Hymn creative team includes set and lighting designer Brian Sidney Bembridge, costume designer Dianne K. Graebner and sound designer Cricket S. Myers. Tim Wright and Jennifer A. Skinner co-produce for Circle X Theatre Co.

[Inside] the Ford is located in the Ford Theatres complex at 2580 Cahuenga Blvd. East, Hollywood, CA.

For reservations and more information call the Ford Theatres Box Office at (323) 461-3673 or go to www.FordTheatres.org.

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