I Am My Own Wife, A One-Man Tour de Force
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It's 1969 and change is in the air. But for Memphis, the owner of a rundown diner in a dying Pittsburgh neighborhood, the civil rights movement takes a back seat to more immediate problems. His diner has been slated for demolition in the city's urban renewal plan, but he has a competing offer from a predatory businessman. Caught between idealism and brutal reality, Memphis struggles to determine the fate of the place where his customers gathered for decades to share their struggles, hopes and dreams. Pulitzer Prize-winner August Wilson's searing, humorous, and potent portrait of African-American life in the '60s tells a complex story of the inner lives of ordinary people at a turning point in American history. Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from Robert C.
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Compelling story of a German transvetite who manages to lead her/his "out" life during the Nazi period and the East German Communist years. The 2nd act is riveting, underscoring the difficulty in identifying truth and comprehending human motives.
Quotes & Highlights
Winner of the 2004 Tony Award for Best Play, the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play.
Olney Theatre Center presents the highly acclaimed, Tony Award-winning play of I Am My Own Wife in its Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. Based on a true story, and inspired by interviews conducted by Playwright Doug Wright over several years, I Am My Own Wife tells the fascinating tale of celebrated antiques collector, Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.
p. A German transvestite, Mahlsdorf successfully navigated the two most oppressive regimes of the past century, managing to survive the Nazi onslaught as well as the subsequent Communist regime, while openly gay and defiantly in drag. Historians have both hailed Mahlsdorf as a cultural hero and accused her of colluding with the Stasi.
The one-man tour de force stars Arnie Burton in over forty roles, mainly Mahlsdorf, but also her lover, father, aunt, Nazi officers, and TV personalities. Unique to this show is Wright’s insertion of himself as a major character. The writer’s story is told alongside the lead’s as Wright works to uncover the truth behind Mahlsdorf’s stories. “Doug starts out hoping to find in Charlotte a hero, a gay icon whom he can present to the world as someone to admire, even revere,” says Director John Going. “What he finds in the end is a flawed human being who, though courageous and noble in many respects, is also weak and self-serving. She has the same kind of blind spots and self-preservation instincts that plague us all – in other words, she is a real person.”
Led by Olney’s Associate Artistic Director John Going (The Constant Wife, The Heiress, and Morning’s at Seven), this powerhouse production is the second partnership between actor, director, and designers. The talented group first explored I Am My Own Wife at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in 2006. This initial journey won critical acclaim and top honors at the Kevin Kline Awards (St. Louis’ version of DC’s Helen Hayes Awards) for Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Play. Going, Burton, and the three designers will reunite to further discover this piece in Olney’s intimate black box theater. “We are proud to bring these artists together again,” says Artistic Director Jim Petosa.
Making his Olney debut, Burton comes to the area direct from the critically acclaimed run of Merchant of Venice/Jew of Malta in New York and from The Royal Shakespeare Company in England. He made his Broadway debut in Amadeus. Burton’s regional appearances include the lead in All in the Timing by David Ives (Los Angeles premiere) at the Geffen Playhouse, and Lives of the Saints by David Ives (world premiere) at The Philadelphia Theatre Company. Burton’s television credits include appearances on Frasier; Hope & Faith; Caroline in the City; Law & Order; Sister, Sister; and Six Degrees. His film appearances are Igby Goes Down and Game 6.
Playing the duel role of Scenic and Costume Designer, Marie Anne Chiment has designed sets and costumes for hundreds of theater, opera, and dance productions across the nation. This past fall, she designed over 100 costumes for the world premiere musical, Ace at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis (2007 Kevin Kline Award). Lighting Chiment’s designs will be Mitchell Dana. Dana has designed over 575 productions including The Suicide, Monday after the Miracle, Mass Appeal, Freedom of the City, and Once in a Lifetime. Creating the sounds of pre-Berlin Germany will be Sound Designer Joe Payne, who is in his seventh season as resident sound designer for Pioneer Theatre Company and teaching sound design for the Department of Theatre at the University of Utah.
Considered one of the most honored plays in recent years, I Am My Own Wife has garnered many awards including a Tony Award for Best Play, the Drama Desk Award, a GLAAD Media Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Drama League Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, and Playwright Doug Wright received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
About the Ticket Supplier: Olney Theatre CenterLocated just north of Washington, D.C. in arts-rich Montgomery County, Maryland, Olney Theatre Center for the Arts offers a diverse array of professional productions year-round that enrich, nurture and challenge a broad range of artists, audiences and students. One of two state theaters of Maryland, OTC is situated on 14 acres in the heart of the beautiful Washington-Baltimore-Frederick "triangle," within easy access of all three cities.
An award-winning regional theater, Olney Theatre Center operates under an Actors' Equity Association Council of Stock Theaters (COST) contract, one of only three theaters in the country to operate under such a contract.
In addition to its mainstage season, which emphasizes 20th-century American classics, new works, area premieres, reinterpretations of classics and musical theater, OTC offers a wide range of programs and affiliations including: National Players, America's longest running classical touring company (since 1949), which performs for high school and college audiences in over 25 states; Potomac Theatre Project, which offers experimental and alternative plays that explore provocative and challenging human situations, ideas and visions; special school performances of mainstage shows; a free Summer Shakespeare Festival; and post-show discussions.