See what the critics are saying about Eventide Art’s, “The Heiress”…
“Eventide’s ‘Heiress’ A Satisfying Look at Class”…
“ ‘The Heiress’ has emotional punch”…
Eir Lindstrom-Holmy, Cape Cod Times
Husband and Wife Team Stage a Husband and Wife’s Drama in Eventide Art’s The Heiress.
by Shannon Goheen
Dennis, MA – April 23, 2015 – Eventide Arts is producing The Heiress, opening May 7th through 31st on the Gertrude Lawrence Stage at the Dennis Union Church. While the play debuted almost 70 years ago, the high society drama that explores the inherent risks involved in the search for love is continually fascinating.
And, in an interesting parallel, a husband and wife team are directing and designing the set of this iconic play, written by another husband and wife team.
The playwrights, Ruth and Augustus Goetz, found success writing together during their 25-year marriage. Their second collaboration produced the play The Heiress, adapted from Henry James’ story entitled Washington Square. Opening to wide acclaim on Broadway in 1947, The Heiress ran for 410 performances and won two Tony awards. More awards followed when it was reprised in 1976 and 1995. The film version was placed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress because it was deemed to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The Director Mary Arnault and Set Designer Andrew Arnault are a well-known husband and wife team in the Cape’s theatre community. They met in an acting class at the NYU Tisch School. Afterward, Mary followed her dream to become a director and Andrew specialized in set production. While in New York, they founded The Odyssey Theatre Company they wrote plays together as the Goetz’s did.
The Arnaults relocated to Cape Cod to raise their family and to continue their theatrical path. Together and separately, they have contributed their talents as well as some of their plays to the Cape’s community theatre scene. However, their work on The Heiress marks their first time on Eventide’s Gertrude Lawrence Stage.
“Every element tells a story,” says Mary. “We talk about what we want people to get out of the show. Andy makes me look better and I make him look better. We work very closely together, listen to each other’s perspective and we get there together.”
The couple finds the play attractive on various levels from the struggle between the wills and intentions of the characters to the intricacies of the design of the set. Mary says that Andrew works from the head and she works from instinct, a difference that only enhances their creative collaborations.
Eventide’s stage and setting posed a challenge for Andrew. Unlike most Cape theatres where the audience looks down at the stage, in this setting, the audience is on the floor looking up at the set. One of the key set pieces is a staircase.
The Heiress is an intimate chamber piece,” says Mary, “and you can’t overwhelm the stage with the set. The staircase was his number one challenge.”
Andrew’s solution results in a sumptuous set that, on Eventide’s little stage, looks like a Victorian shadow box with beautifully-clothed dolls in period outfits. Eventide’s The Heiress is as much a delight for the eyes as it is for the psyche.
The Heiress is a coming-of-age story that shows how our decisions determine the course of our lives.
The drama centers on the tortured relationship between a father and daughter. Young Catherine’s mother died while birthing Catherine and her father, Dr. Sloper, never forgives his daughter. He finds her a disappointment and treats her harshly.
When Catherine meets Morris, her one and only suitor, she falls in love with him. He’s poor, but she believes he loves her. Dr. Sloper thinks Morris is a bounty-hunter and tries to dissuade Catherine from wanting to marry Morris.
Catherine must navigate the terrain of love and regret, desire and duty, a chance for happiness and the burden of fortune…as only an heiress can.