PhD Student Joe Stollenwerk’s adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale @ Cincinnati Shakes

[Adapted from several entries at cinstages.com]

A World Premiere of Modern Classic: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is proud to present the world premiere production of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, adapted for the stage by Indiana University Department of Theatre & Drama PhD student Joe Stollenwerk, April 3-20, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale, adapted by Joe Stollenwerk from the Novel by Margaret Atwood. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Cincinnati, OH.

Corinne Mohlenhoff as Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale, adapted by Joe Stollenwerk from the Novel by Margaret Atwood. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Cincinnati, OH, April 3-20, 2011. Directed by Brian Isaac Phillips, Sound Design by Chris Guthrie, Costume Design by Heidi Jo Schiemer, Lighting and Scenic Design by Andrew J. Hungerford. | Photo copyright Rich Sofranko. See more photos at Hungerford’s personal web site.

Opening April 3rd, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is proud to present the world premiere of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, adapted for the stage by Joe Stollenwerk. For a limited run of only nine performances, this captivating one-woman show features CSC Ensemble member Corinne Mohlenhoff and is directed by Producing Artistic Director Brian Isaac Phillips. The Handmaid’s Tale will run concurrently with CSC’s production of Julius Caesar through April 20th.

Phd Student Joe Stollenwerk

Phd Student Joe Stollenwerk

Joe Stollenwerk is originally from Cincinnati where he spent nearly ten years as the Artistic Director of Ovation Theatre Company. A vibrant member of the local theater community, he has also directed and/or acted with Cincinnati Music Theatre, Covedale Theatre, Cincinnati Playwright Initiative and Madisonville Arts Center. It was during this time in Cincinnati, that Stollenwerk and Mohlenhoff first met and began working together, this collaboration actually inspiring Stollenwerk to create this one-woman role with Corinne in mind:

“I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in a course on feminism and utopia/dystopia in literature in 2002. This was in the wake of 9/11 and it seemed that our country might all too easily be teetering on the brink of something reminiscent of Gilead from this novel. I immediately began thinking about turning it into a play, despite the fact that this seemed an insurmountable task. Then I remembered that one of my favorite genres of plays is the one-woman show, and that was that.”

He began with a draft in 2006 which was well over six hours long.

“I cut, and cut, and cut, always trying to be mindful that I wanted to preserve the plot and characters but also the social/political commentary as well as the marvelous language Atwood employs.”

The artistic process continued and Stollenwerk invited close friends over for informal readings of the script in his living room throughout 2007.

“Finally, I felt ready to give Corinne a draft of the script, and in May of 2009 we did a staged reading here at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. I’m so pleased that I was finally able to secure the rights to have a full production staged and to present the world premiere right here in Cincinnati, OH!”

Photo copyright Rich Sofranko. See more photos at Hungerford's personal web site.

Photo copyright Rich Sofranko. See more photos at designer Andrew J. Hungerford’s personal web site.

Cincinnati Shakespeare Company presents The Handmaid’s Tale for a limited run of nine performances. Performances are scheduled for April 3-20 on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm. The theater is located at 719 Race Street, downtown Cincinnati, two blocks west of the Aronoff Center. Ticket price is $22. Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted. Student rush tickets are available one hour before showtime. Weekday matinee performances for school groups are also available, contact 513.381.2272 ext. 3202 for more information. To purchase tickets or for more information, call the CSC Box Office at 513.381.BARD (2273), or visit us online at www.cincyshakes.com and click any “Buy Tickets” link.

For additional information on The Handmaid’s Tale (or for interviews with Mohlenhoff, Stollenwerk or Phillips), please contact Jeanna Vella, Director of Education & Communications here or visit www.cincyshakes.com.

Wednesday April 13: GLBT Night (6:00 pm)

A pre-show reception beginning at 6:00PM in CSC’s lobby, with refreshments sponsored by Bagpipes Irish Pub. The performance of The Handmaid’s Tale begins at 7:30PM. Following the performance there will be an after party at Below Zero Lounge, located at 1122 Walnut St.

Tuesday, April 12: Women’s Rights Pre-Show Panel Discussion hosted by Planned Parenthood (6:15 pm)

Beginning at 6:15pm, the talk is included free with any ticket for that evening’s production and a ticket to the The Handmaid’s Tale must be purchased to attend the discussion. Luke Brockmeier, the Public Affairs Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region, told CSC “your production of The Handmaid’s Tale is jaw-droppingly timely, because everybody in the women’s movement is talking about that book right now. The panel will be lead by Laurie Housemeyer, Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Region. Luke Brockmeier, PPSWO will speak about the current legislation, Barbara Myers, Cincinnati Women’s Political Caucus will speak about the legislative history of reproductive health and Dr. Christine Anderson, chair of a local history university department, will cover the history of women’s property rights. Following the performance, there will be a casual post-show discussion at Bagpipes Irish Pub across the street. All audience members are invited.

Sunday, April 3 & April 10: Playwright, Joe Stollenwerk in a Pre-show Talk-back (6:45-7:15 pm)

Stollenwerk will share his insights into his creative process for writing this piece for the stage. Stollenwerk is originally from Cincinnati where he spent nearly ten years as the Artistic Director of Ovation Theatre Company. A vibrant member of the local theater community, Stollenwerk has also directed and/or acted with Cincinnati Music Theatre, Covedale Theatre, Cincinnati Playwright Initiative and Madisonville Arts Center. It was during this time in Cincinnati, that Stollenwerk and Mohlenhoff first met and began working with each other actually inspiring Stollenwerk to create this piece with Corinne in mind during the process.

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