The Chairs

About the Playwright

Eugene Ionesco was born in Slatina, Romania in 1909. He spent the majority of his life living in France, where he became one of the most famous playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd movement. Ionesco's first success as a playwright came late in his life with the premiere of The Bald Soprano (1950). Other famous plays, also written in French, include The Chairs (1952), Rhinoceros (1960), The Killing Game (1970), and The Man with Bags (1975). Ionesco was elected to the prestigious Academie Francaise in 1970, and in 1987 was awarded a medal by the city of Paris in recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of continuous productions of The Bald Soprano at the Theatre de la Huchette. The much lauded playwright, author, and painter died in Paris in 1994.

About the Director

Joanna is a writer, actor, and director. She is Professor of Theatre as well as former chair of the department, and also teaches in Women’s Studies. She has lately appeared on the Vasey stage as Claire Zachanassian in The Visit and as Catwoman in By the Bog of Cats… In New York, she has performed Off-Broadway, most recently at the Player’s Club. At Villanova, she has directed plays by Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, David Rabe, Tina Howe, Sam Shepard, and Caryl Churchill. Her own plays – Prajna, Death of the Father, and Art Talk – have been featured presentations at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe. Dr. Rotté is the author of Scene Change (A Theatre Diary: Prague, Moscow, Leningrad) and Acting With Adler. She writes regularly for Soul of the American Actor, a quarterly published in New York. Her writing may be seen at www.homepage.villanova.edu/joanna.rotte .

Press Release

VILLANOVA THEATRE PRESENTS EUGÈNE IONESCO’S THE CHAIRS

Villanova Theatre opens the 2006 – 2007 theatre season with The Chairs, a surreal comedy written by Eugène Ionesco, a master of the Theatre of the Absurd, and directed by theatre professor Joanna Rotté.

The Chairs runs September 26 – October 8, 2006, at Vasey Hall on the Villanova University campus. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday and 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $18-$24, with discounts for seniors, students, and groups, and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box office at (610) 519-7474. Additional information is available online at www.theatre.villanova.edu.

The Chairs premiered in 1952 at Theatre du Nouveau Lancry, early in Ionesco’s career, and two years after the premiere of his first play, The Bald Soprano. Written after World War II, The Chairs has a strong post-apocalyptic feel. It tells the story of a peculiar couple – an Old Man and an Old Woman – who live in isolation, surrounded by stagnant water. There they pass the time playing make-believe games and setting up chairs for a grand party where the man will deliver the culmination of his life’s work: a great message that will transform the world forever. But as their guests begin to arrive, it quickly becomes apparent that all is not as it seems.

Ionesco was born in Slatina, Romania, in 1909. He spent the majority of his life living in France, where he became one of the most famous playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd movement. His other plays, all written in French, include Rhinoceros (1960), The Killing Game (1970), and The Man with Bags (1975). Ionesco was elected to the prestigious Academie Francaise in 1970 and, in 1987, was awarded a medal by the city of Paris in recognition of the thirtieth anniversary of continuous productions of The Bald Soprano at the Theatre de la Huchette. The much lauded playwright, author, and painter died in Paris in 1994.

Rotté is a writer, actor, and director. She is former chair of the Villanova theatre department. At Villanova, she has appeared on the Vasey stage in Prayers of Sherkin, The Visit, and By the Bog of Cats… and directed plays by Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, David Rabe, Tina Howe, Sam Shepard, and Caryl Churchill. She is the author of Scene Change (A Theatre Diary: Prague, Moscow, Leningrad) and Acting With Adler. She writes regularly for Soul of the American Actor, a quarterly published in New York.

The cast of The Chairs includes Stephen Patrick Smith, a graduate of Villanova’s theatre program and graduate theatre student Marcie Bramucci. Smith has appeared at Villanova Theatre in Prayers of Sherkin, The Visit, and Endgame. He directed Tuesday for Amarylis Theatre Company, which won 2005 Barrymore Awards for Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Movement/Choreography. Bramucci has been seen at Villanova in Fred and Jane, Prayers of Sherkin, and Our Town.

The Chairs runs September 26 – October 8, 2006. Show times are 8:00pm Tuesday – Saturday and 2:00pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $18-$24 and may be ordered by calling the Villanova Theatre Box office at (610) 519-7474. Visit www.villanova.edu/artsci/theatre/ for more information.

Production Photos

production photo from The Chairs
production photo from The Chairs

Cast of Characters

Old Man: Stephen Patrick Smith

Old Woman: Marcie Bramucci

And Many Other Characters: Various Actors