Why Anton in Show Business?

When the women of Valley Players first got together, we decided we wanted to do a play we could all be in and that none of us had done before. How hard could it possibly be to find a play with good roles for five women over the age of 50? It turns out, it was much harder than we thought!
Women, in general, and older women, in particular, are traditionally under-represented both on and off stage, even though they comprise the majority of theater audience members. In the words of Kate Todorovskia, “Eighty percent of the roles in the American theatre are played by men, and ninety percent of the directors are men…” and “of the twenty percent of roles that are for women, ninety-five percent are for women under forty.”

We went online and used Dramatists’ and Samuel French’s search engines to single out plays that had casts of 5 or more women. Their search engines are pretty good at that, but what they don’t give you is the option to search on age-range. Between us, we purchased and read close to thirty plays… and discarded almost all of them. The majority by far, had only roles for women in their 20’s or 30’s. Some were just plain bad plays.

We happened upon a play called Love, Loss and What I Wore (by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman) and thought, yes—this could be it—all five of us loved the script! And then we discovered it was being produced in Sonoma later that year. Okaaayy… we discovered the stage version of Calendar Girls (by Tim Firth)…. this one looked good—four of us approved anyway. But guess what? They were doing that one in Sonoma, too! Back to reading….

We found a few more scripts, most of which we were not crazy about, but could work. And then there was Anton… we were split on this one actually, two for, one against and two ambivalent. A quandry. We had already asked Megan Palagi to be our director and it was decided we would give her our top three contenders and let her choose. After all, nothing is worse than trying to convince a director to do a show she doesn’t want to do!

When she announced her choice, she said she had chosen Anton not only because she liked it best, but also “it seems to speak directly to what your group is all about.” Indeed it does. It is hilarious, satirical and all 15 roles (including the male ones) are played by eight ageless women. Perfect.

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