In the Downstairs Theater at La MaMa, María Irene Fornés' lost work Evelyn Brown (A Diary) opens May 25. The revival began previews May 19 for a run through June 4.
Starring Ellen Lauren and Violeta Picayo, the work was created from the diary of the real life Evelyn Brown. Entirely inspired by the found object, Fornés forewent a plot in favor of creating an intimate portrait of women’s domestic labor and the tenderness of care. The dance-theatre piece explores the housekeeper's life in 1909 rural New Hampshire, and the physical cost of women’s domestic labor. In turn, the work also considers the surprising possibilities for mental and spiritual escape.
Alice Reagan directs the production, with the creative team featuring Fornés’s long-time scenic and costume designers Donald Eastman and Gabriel Berry who worked on the play's 1980 premiere. They are joined by lighting designer Christina Watanabe and sound designer Jordan Rose Bernstein. Shannon Sindelar serves as producer.
It took five years for dramaturg Gwendolyn Alker to recover the long-lost script. Alker said in a statement, “Reconstructing the script for Evelyn Brown (A Diary) from various script fragments and interviews with cast and crew has been a highlight of my career. It’s the only Fornés play taken completely from a found text and preceded a profound moment of creativity that included The Danube, Mud, and The Conduct of Life.”
Evelyn Brown (A Diary) originally premiered at Theater for the New City in April 1980 and featured performances by Margaret Harrington and Aileen Passloff.