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Women In Theatre Continue to Make Progress on Bellevue Space, Prepare for Next Show

WIT-Women in Theatre returns with Honour April 10-18 at St. John United Church of Christ in Bellevue.

The play is about love – and exactly what that means, including to middle-aged Honor, whose husband is leaving her after more than 30 years for a younger woman.

WIT founder, woman-of-all-theatrical work and “fifth generation Northern Kentuckian” Donna Hoffman began WIT because she saw the need for plays written by, for, and about women. She loves the play by Australian writer Joanna Murray-Smith, and she’s not alone. In previous productions Honour has earned strong reviews: The San Francisco Chronicle called it “Bracingly honest and deeply moving” and The Times of London found it “‘an intelligent, powerful, gripping piece.”

“It’s so poetic, so delicate,” Hoffman enthuses. “Every one of the characters is trying to find out what love is.” That includes Honor’s husband, their adult daughter and the younger other woman.

Community theater veterans Peggy Allen and Dennis Blom play the unhappily-marrieds. Hannah Rahe is daughter Sophie and Patricia Mullins is husband George’s biographer who becomes something more.

Since debuting last April with Walter Cronkite Is Dead, Hoffman has been busy. Last summer WIT hosted playwright Rita Anderson for a workshop and reading. She started work on Honour last fall, and she started networking like crazy on Facebook, inviting scripts through the page and joining conversations at playwright pages.

She met University of Cincinnati faculty member Grace Epstein at the summer workshops and Epstein is now dramaturg for Honour and writing a commissioned play for WIT which Hoffman hopes to produce in autumn this year.

In her program notes Epstein writes, “how we maneuver a path through choices about whom to love and, even more troubling, not to love, is always tricky… The playwright seems to say, understanding neither love nor honour is possible without thinking of the other persons involved, the ‘you’ rather than only the ‘I’."

As for Hoffman’s other theater work, she’s been slowly turning the basement space into a performing space. A new elevator will make performances far more accessible; air-conditioning will make life more pleasant for actors and audiences during a summer that stretches into fall.

You only have to read her Facebook entries to know what she’s has been doing since the beginning of the year, despite being sidelined by harsh winter and recuperating from rotator cuff surgery: “We're spending the month of February cleaning up after the construction crew who put A/C and an elevator into our theatre space at St. John United Church of Christ in Bellevue…

“Today was the first day of paint scraping off the back wall of the stage. Tomorrow we bring out the sander. We'll be ready to start painting on the primer on Saturday…

“The primer is on the wall and the mildew has been bleached. We paint the shell and the proscenium wall this week.”

Hoffman calls the space “partially refurbished” and there’s work that will keep her busy for some time to come. WIT is offering a ticket discount for anyone who brings a lawn chair.

Honour, April 10-18. WIT-Women in Theatre, St. John United Church of Christ, 520 Fairfield Ave, Bellevue.  8 p.m. April 10, 11, 17 and 18, 3 p.m. April 12. Matinee is followed by a "Talk About” led by Grace Epstein, Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of the UC Department of English.  Tickets $18 ($3 rebate if you bring your own comfortable, lawn chair.)  513-407-0832 weekdays between 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays or you can order online through St. John United Church of Christ website.

Written by Jackie Demaline, RCN Arts

Photo provided