Theatre Department Celebrates American Women Playwrights During 2019-2020 Season
Events and Lectures

The Franklin College Department of Theatre will present four plays, all written by female playwrights, during the 2019-20 academic year. The plays are The Heidi ChroniclesMachinalThe Wolves and Spike Heels.  All performances will be in Théâtre Margot in the Johnson Center for Fine Arts, located at the corner of Branigin Blvd. and Grizzly Dr.

Each of the four plays are written by American women to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave women in the United States the right to vote.

“We have produced plays by women before, but never a season of just women,” said Robin Roberts, professor of theatre at Franklin College. “We thought this would be a great opportunity to highlight the wide variety of plays women have written and spotlight some lesser known, but historically important, works like Machinal by Sophie Treadwell.”

The first play, The Heidi Chronicles written by Wendy Wasserstein and directed by Roberts, will hold performances on Oct. 3, 4 and 5 at 8 p.m. and Oct. 6 at 2 p.m.

The Heidi Chronicles, a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatic play, follows the coming of age of Heidi Holland as she tries to find her way in the rapidly changing world. Her story begins in 1989, and the audience follows Heidi from her high school years to her career as a successful art historian. Along the way, she navigates a romantic relationship with a smooth-talking publisher, and a meaningful friendship with a pediatrician. Heidi also experiences different encounters with other women, now much changed, from her childhood and college years. Please note: Audience discretion is advised due to language.

Robin Roberts, professor of theatre at Franklin College, will direct the play. Roberts earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in playwriting from Southern Illinois University. He has a Master of Arts degree in theatre and speech from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in English from Clemson University. Roberts is a resident of Franklin.

The second play is Machinal, written by Sophie Treadwell.  Nicolas Crisafulli, assistant professor of fine arts and theatre at Franklin College, will direct the play, with performances held Nov. 14, 15 and 16 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.

The story chronicles the life of a young woman who is victimized and dehumanized by everyone around her. Treadwell, who was a playwright and journalist, based her drama on the real-life sensational Ruth Snyder-Judd Gray murder trial. When it premiered in 1928, this classic American play was praised for its innovative, expressionistic style and staccato dialogue.

Treadwell held professional careers in journalism and theatre in New York City during the 1920s and was a member of the Lucy Stone League of women’s rights activists, which advocated for a woman’s right to keep her maiden name after marriage. She passed away in February 1970.

Nicolas Crisafulli earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre arts and political science from Presbyterian College in South Carolina and his master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Memphis. He joined the Franklin College faculty in 2009, after serving as a graduate instructor at the University of Memphis. He is a resident of Franklin.

The third production will be The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe and directed by Crisafulli, with performances held March 12, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m. and March 15 at 2 p.m.

A Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2016, The Wolves follows an indoor women’s soccer team as they go through a series of warm-up and practice sessions, and its members navigate big questions and wage tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. The play is described as a portrait of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for nine American girls who just want to score some goals. Audience discretion is advised.

 Sarah DeLappe attended Yale University to pursue acting, but became frustrated by always being cast in the same role: the ingénue. During her junior year she was inspired to try something different. She enrolled in a playwriting class with Paula Vogel, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and the chair of the playwriting department at Yale. The class allowed DeLappe to write the characters that had been lacking for her on stage. Soon, she abandoned acting and focused on playwriting. After graduating from Yale, she attended Brooklyn College, where she received a Masters of Fine Arts in playwriting.

The final play of the academic year will be Spike Heels written by Theresa Rebeck and directed by Chelsea Anderson, with performances held April 30, May 1 and 2 at 8 p.m. and May 3 at 2 p.m.

Pygmalion goes awry in this contemporary comedy of manners, which explores sexual harassment, misplaced amour, and the possibility of a four-sided love triangle. The combatants are a sexy, volatile young woman, a lawyer, a writer, and a fiancée in sensible shoes. The setting is Boston, the ending is happy, and laughter abounds. Audience discretion is advised.

Theresa Rebeck is an American playwright, novelist and television writer with many plays on and off-Broadway. Her work has also appeared in film and on television. Among her awards are the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award. In 2012, she received the Athena Film Festival Award for Excellence as a Playwright and Author of Films, Books and Television.

Chelsea Anderson is an actor, director, producer, dialect coach and playwright in Indianapolis and has worked with many theaters including Indiana Repertory Theatre, Forward Theatre, and Great River Shakespeare Festival, among others. She earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre from the University of Indianapolis and a Master of Fine Arts in acting and directing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She currently serves as Artistic Manager at Phoenix Theatre.

Tickets are free for students, faculty and staff with a valid Franklin College ID, $8 for students and seniors and $12 general admission.  Reservations can be made by email at or by phone at (317) 738-8029 or (800) 852-0232, ext. 8029.  Please claim reservations ten minutes before the performance. The box office opens one hour before the performance.

For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Communications at (317) 738-8185.

POSTED Oct 2, 2019