Preview: The Revolutionists

A play by America’s most-produced living playwright is coming to Prague

Lauren Gunderson was the most produced living playwright in America in 2016, according to New Yorker magazine called her most popular playwright you never heard of.

At age 25 she has already had over 20 plays produced, many based on historical themes and all with strong female characters. She credits her success with working on at least three plays at once.

Her play The Revolutionists, first performed in the US in 2015, will be at Prague’s Divadlo Na Prádle for two evening shows on Nov. 21 and 23 at 7 pm, and a morning performance on Nov. 22 at 10 am. The production by Prague Shakespeare Company is directed by Andrew Ruthven and stars Bree Welch, Shannon Emerick, Jessica Boone and Callina Situka.

The Revolutionists is described as a whirling fantasia of a tale about four women whose lives collide during the French Revolution in the late 18th century. At the height of the Reign of Terror, playwright Olympe de Gouges, assassin Charlotte Corday, activist Marianne Angelle, and former queen Marie Antoinette plot murder, try to beat back extremist insanity in Paris and explore how we actually go about changing the world. The description adds that the brutal comedy is a true story and a total fiction.

Playwright Gunderson called The Revolutionists “funny and feminist,” according to Houstonian magazine.

Local audiences should remember Bree Welch, who was in numerous performances in Prague before she went back to the States. She was recently awarded Best Supporting Actress by the Houston Press and Best Theatrical Performance by the Houston Chronicle for her role as Marie Antoinette in The Revolutionists when the play was produced there.

Houston Press praised Welch’s “deliciously tipsy portrayal” of Marie Antoinette, and later called the queen “utterly clueless but winsomely sympathetic.”

The same review by D.L. Groover also called Shannon Emerick one of Houston’s finest performers. 

Callina Situka also appeared in the Houston production. When she is not acting, she is a regular co-host of the sports talk podcast Sports Talk with Devan Wade and produces a web series called Ashleigh and Aleighsha.

Joining the cast for the Prague production is Jessica Boone, who has appeared in lead roles in PSC productions including Macbeth and Venus in Fur, among many others.

About Gunderson, New Yorker said: “Although men still write three-quarters of the plays that get produced, Gunderson has built a national reputation with works that center on women’s stories.”

The magazine later adds: “A typical Gunderson protagonist resembles her author: smart, funny, collaborative, optimistic — a woman striving to expand the ranks of a male-dominated profession.”

Gunderson is the 2016 winner of the Lanford Wilson Award, the 2014 winner of the Steinberg/ATCA New Play award and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play I and You.

She studied Southern literature and drama at Emory University and dramatic writing at NYU’s Tisch School.

Her work has been commissioned, produced and developed at companies across the US including South Coast Rep (Emilie, Silent Sky), The Kennedy Center (The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful And Her Dog!), The O’Neill, Denver Center, Berkeley Rep, Shotgun Players, TheatreWorks, Crowded Fire, San Francisco Playhouse, Marin Theatre, Synchronicity, Olney Theatre, Geva and more.

She is a playwright in residence at the Playwrights Foundation and a Dramatists Guild member. She is from Atlanta, GA and lives in San Francisco.

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