Tampa Repertory Theatre will present Lillian Hellman's groundbreaking 1934 drama The Children's Hour in the Smith Black Box theater at Tampa Preparatory School, 727 West Cass Street in downtown Tampa, September 17 through October 4. Performances are at 7:30 PM on Thursdays, 8 PM on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 PM on Sundays. Patrons may purchase tickets at the door or from a link on TampaRep's website.
The Children's Hour was Hellman's first play, and its two-year initial Broadway run made her a global literary celebrity at 29. Along with her next hit, The Little Foxes, five years later, the play cemented Hellman's stature as America's first important female dramatist.
Despite the accolades, The Children's Hour's still-resonant themes of teen bullying in an all-girls boarding school touched off a firestorm. The play was initially banned in Boston, Chicago and London and was judged too risqué for Pulitzer Prize consideration. When the first screen adaptation reached cinemas in 1936, the story's revolutionary treatment of gay attraction and the insidious effects of gossip had been reimagined as a heterosexual love triangle to comply with the Hays Code.
The play has since received a more faithful film treatment in 1961 (still scandalous for its time) and numerous stage revivals worldwide, including a 2011 West End production starring Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) and Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean).
Written long before social media modernized its core conflict into "cyberbullying," The Children's Hour explores how gossip and lies can “go viral” within a community. When a young girl seeks revenge on her teachers, her whispered words shatter lives.
The Children's Hour is directed by celebrated actor/director Emilia Sargent (Creative Loafing "Best of the Bay" Best Actress winner for her performance as Blanche DuBois in TampaRep's A Streetcar Named Desire), who was last seen in TampaRep's Betrayal.
For the key teenage roles of Mary and Rosalie, Sargent has landed two of the area's most promising young actors: Olivia Sargent (Jo March in Little Women at Tampa Prep) and Tallulah Nouss, fresh from an award-winning performance in a New York production of Hello Dolly.
Rounding out the cast is a crack ensemble of some of Tampa Bay's most prominent actors, including Emily Belvo and Katie Castonguay (both of Jobsite Theater's recent Occupation), Lynne Locher, Derrick Phillips, and Donna DeLonay.
The Children's Hour kicks off TampaRep's fifth season. Dubbed "American Visions," the season features plays by great writers of the American canon, including Eugene O'Neill and Sam Shepard.
More information about TampaRep and its mission is available at TampaRep.org.