The Visit

About the Director

Jonathan Carr

Jonathan Carr is an adjunct professor at Villanova, and received his M.F.A. in directing from Columbia University. He made his Philadelphia directing debut here with last season’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet). More recently, Jonathan directed Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July at Ursinus College and Audience/Unveiling, two one acts by Vaclav Havel, at the Allens Lane Theater in Mt. Airy. His New York directing credits include Gombrowicz's Princess Ivona, Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken, and an original adaptation of Duras' The Malady of Death. Work with contemporary playwrights includes Timothy Braun's Angelina, Deirdre T. O'Connor's The Ladies, Caroline Prugh’s Terminal, and Heather MacDonald's Son of Nun in High Road in the N.Y. Intl. Fringe Festival. He also directed the Austin, TX premiere of Constance Congdon's Dog Opera, and has assistant directed at Actors Theatre of Louisville (Anne Bogart), Ma-Yi Theatre Company at The Public Theater/NYSF (Lisa Peterson), San Jose Repertory Theatre (Timothy Douglas, John McCluggage), and Williamstown Theatre Festival (Paul Weidner).

Press Release


Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s Deliciously Dark Comedy About Love, Revenge, and Money

What happens when the richest woman in the world returns to her poor hometown to confront the man who spurned her many years ago? Villanova Theatre explores these themes of love, revenge, and money in Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s dark comedy The Visit.

Adapted by Maurice Valency and directed by adjunct theatre professor Jonathan Carr, The Visit runs November 9–21, 2004, at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm Tuesday­Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are $18–$22 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box Office at (610) 519-7474. Additional information is available at

In The Visit, Claire Zachanassian returns to her poverty-stricken hometown of Güllen, intent on revenge. Claire confronts the popular town grocer, Alfred Ill, the man who turned his back on her when she was young, scared, and pregnant. Now fabulously wealthy, Claire offers to save the town from bankruptcy, but there is one small catch.

“There are two big stories in The Visit,” said director Carr. “There is the story of Güllen and what the townspeople do to survive. They are desperate and, after Claire’s arrival, the town has to deal with the opportunity to have money again if they turn on Ill.

“The other main story is an old and twisted love story about two childhood lovers who meet up again late in life,” he continued. “They challenge each other, it is a little war out there. And that’s what we come to the theatre to watch: two people battling it out for what they desperately want.“

Dürrenmatt’s unsettling mix of comedy and tragedy makes for compelling theatre, said Carr.

“Crazy things happen in The Visit and we don’t know what it all means or how to respond,” he said. “Ridiculous, often very funny things in the play have horrifying and all too real consequences. The tragedy comes from the history in the play - the story of a man shirking his responsibility and destroying a young girl’s life - and also from where The Visit is inevitably headed...toward justice and retribution.”

The Visit premiered as Der Besuch der Alten Dame in Zurich in 1956. The play was an instant hit for 35-year-old Dürrenmatt. Maurice Valency adapted the play in 1958, and The Visit opened the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in New York City in a production directed by Peter Brook and starring Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.

Dürrenmatt was born on January 5, 1921, in Konolfingen, Switzerland, near Bern. His early work includes It Is Written (1946) and The Blind (1948). Dürrenmatt's first success on the post-World War II stage was Romulus the Great (1949), a comedy about the fall of the Roman Empire. With An Angel Comes to Babylon in 1953 and The Visit in 1956, Dürrenmatt's reputation was firmly established in Europe. During this time, he also wrote essays, radio scripts, detective stories, and novels. He continued writing until his death in 1990; his later plays include Play Strindberg (1969), The Appointed Time (1977), and his last major work, The Execution of Justice (1989).

In Villanova’s production of The Visit, the vengeful Claire Zachanassian is played by theatre professor Joanna Rotté. She last appeared on stage as the Catwoman in Marina Carr’s By the Bog of Cats... (2003). At Villanova, Rotté has directed Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Endgame, David Rabe’s In the Boom Boom Room, Tina Howe’s The Art of Dining, and Sam Shepard’s True West and The Tooth of Crime, as well as numerous works by Caryl Churchill. Her own plays, Prajna, Death of the Father, and Art Talk, have been featured presentations of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Rotté is the author of Scene Change (A Theatre Diary: Prague, Moscow, Leningrad) and Acting With Adler.

Stephen Patrick Smith appears as Alfred Ill. Smith, who received his M.A. in theatre from Villanova in 1999, was last seen at Villanova as Clov in Rotté's 2000 production of Endgame. Smith went on to receive his M.F.A in acting in 2003 from the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program. He has since worked professionally in Philadelphia and regionally with such theatres as The Utah Shakespearean Festival. Recent roles include Henry Carr in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties and Jack Burden in the world premiere of All The King’s Men, adapted and directed by Adrian Hall.

The 25-member ensemble of The Visit is comprised of a mix of Villanova graduate theatre students, undergraduates, faculty members, and guest artists, including Karen H. Ames, Bob Bonocore, Carrie Bray, Leigh Ann Brienza, Deborah Crane, David Ethier, Nick Falco, Nancy M. Furey, Maria Gianfrancisco, Charles Helmetag, André N. Jones, Joe Leduc, Matthew Livingstone, Tonilyn Longo, Shaun Malleck, Brian Manelski, Rebecca McFadden, Elizabeth Pool, Justin Poole, Barbara Quinn, Joseph Quirk, Paul Recupero, Matthew Rohner, Thomas Sibley, and Taylor Williams.

Carr received his M.F.A. in directing from Columbia University. He made his Philadelphia directing debut last season with Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) at Villanova. Other area credits include Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July at Ursinus College and Audience/Unveiling, two one acts by Václav Havel, at Allen’s Lane Theater in Mt. Airy, PA. His New York directing credits include Witold Gombrowicz’s Princess Ivona, Henrik Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken, and an original adaptation of Marguerite Duras’ The Malady of Death. He also directed the Austin, TX, premiere of Constance Congdon’s Dog Opera, and has assistant directed at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Ma-Yi Theatre Company at The Public Theater/NYSF, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The production team assembled for The Visit includes Scenic Designer Dirk Durossette, Costume Designer Janus Stefanowicz, Lighting Designer Jerold R. Forsyth, Properties Designer cdavid hall-cottrill, Sound Designer Bill Moriarty, and Dramaturg Susannah Henderson.

The Visit performs November 9–21, 2004. Press Opening is Wednesday, November 10, at 8:00pm. Performances are held in Vasey Hall, located at Lancaster & Ithan Avenues, on the Villanova University campus. Showtimes are 8:00pm Tuesday-Saturday and 2:00pm Sunday. Tickets are $18-$22, with discounts for seniors, groups, and students.

Villanova Theatre continues the 2004-2005 season with William Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, February 15–27, 2005, and the Tony Award-winning musical Big River, based on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, April 5–24, 2005.

For tickets and information, please call the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 or log on to

Production Photos

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Get Involved

Ushers are needed for every performance. Ushers arrive one hour before the show, hand out programs, help seat patrons, and see the show for free! Please contact the Villanova Theatre Box Office at 610-519-7474 if you would like to usher.

Production Crew
We need volunteer crew members to help build sets, hang lights, and sew costumes. This is a great way to experience theatre "behind the scenes" and meet new people. Please contact Business/Production Manager Elisa Loprete Hibbs at 610-519-4897 to volunteer for production crew.

Open Auditions
Want to be in the spotlight? Audition for Villanova Theatre productions! Auditions are held throughout the year. 

Cast of Characters


CLAIRE Zachanassian, née Wascher, millionairess, Armenian Oil: Joanna Rotté
BUTLER (Boby): Charles Helmetag
ROBY (Gum-Chewer 1): Bob Bonocore
TOBY (Gum-Chewer 2): Nick Falco
KOBY (Blind): Matt Livingstone
LOBY (Blind): Shaun Malleck


ILL, Alfred: Stephen Smith
MRS. ILL, Matilda: Taylor Williams
SON, Karl: Matt Rohner
DAUGHTER, Ottilie: Maria Gianfrancisco
MAYOR: Elizabeth Pool
PRIEST: Justin Poole
PROFESSOR: Brian Manelski
DOCTOR: Paul Recupero
POLICEMAN: André Jones
PAINTER (KUHN): Becka McFadden
SECOND WOMAN: Barbara Quinn
MAYOR'S MOTHER (Annie): Deborah Crane
GYMNAST: David Ethier
LOUISA: Leigh Ann Brienza
SEXTON: Shaun Malleck


STATIONMASTER: Matt Livingstone
GUARD: Nick Falco
MARSHALL: David Ethier


CAMERAMAN: Shaun Malleck