The East Lynne Company continues their ninth summer season in Cape May, NJ with a production of Rip Van Winkle, the original play performed more than a century ago by Joseph Jefferson III. Rachel Crothers' He And She is planned for August.
Company Artistic Director and Rip Van Winkle director Warren Kliewer told Playbill On-Line that "the whole purpose of the company is to do revivals of early American plays," and claims that there is no other theatre company in the country who does so with all its productions.
The East Lynne Company produces neglected plays, Kliewer quoted Thomas Jefferson, saying, "We are 'in search of the usable past.'"
He said he chooses plays "for being able to say something to modern audiences," and hopes that through such productions both audiences and actors will gain "a sense of the history of the traditions in which we are working," because, "we aren't in touch with our historical culture."
David Carlyon plays the title role in Rip Van Winkle July 12-30, but probably won't make a career out of the role, unlike Jefferson. Jefferson played other roles but it was Van Winkle that he was identified with, and that audiences demanded he play. Kliewer likens Jefferson's situation to that of contemporary actors like William Shatner as Captain Kirk and Peter Falk as Columbo. "Very often actors would like to move on but audiences demand" that they continue in the same role. Opening Aug. 9 and running through Aug. 27 is Rachel Crothers' He And She, a comic family drama about husband and wife sculptors and their neglected daughter. Teri Bartolo, who began her career as a sculptor, directs and Ginger Grace is cast as the self-sacrificing wife. Crothers premiered the play in 1911 under her own direction and after nine years of rewriting, cast herself in the lead role in a 1920 revival. Kliewer called Crothers "one of the most brilliant talents" of the early 20th century.
For tickets or more information call (609) 884-6900.
--By Laura MacDonald