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Smith Senior Directs Provocative Drama

The Smith College Department of Theatre opens its spring season with Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Tony Kushner’s provocative 1991 drama A Bright Room Called Day, directed by Simone Gianfrancesco ’08.

A Bright Room Called Day runs Thursday through Saturday, February 28-March 1, and Wednesday through Saturday, March 5-8, at 8 p.m. each day in the Hallie Flanagan Theatre, Mendenhall Center. Tickets are $8 for the general public and $5 for students and seniors. Wednesday, March 5, is dollar night for Smith students.

The play follows a group of left-leaning artists and political activists struggling to preserve themselves in 1930s Berlin as the Weimar Republic is collapsing and Hitler's Nazi-led party is rising to power. Juxtaposed over this world on the brink of catastrophe is the world of an angry young woman from the 1980s whose tirades equating Reagan’s America with Hitler’s Germany interrupt the conventional drama of the German friends. While the central character from the 1930s world wrestles with the moral dilemma of choosing between self and community, comfort and conscience, action and reaction, the central character from the 1980s challenges an American audience to ask itself how far it will follow its government—whatever it asks, whatever the consequences. Hailed as “Brash, audacious and...intoxicatingly visionary” by Sid Smith of the Chicago Tribune, A Bright Room Called Day challenges and calls into question its audience’s political and moral conscience.

When asked what drew her to Bright Room, Gianfrancesco pointed to the avant-garde nature of the piece, which calls for the use of slide projections and includes a rich mixture of worlds, time periods, and historical-political and humanitarian themes, ripe for experimentation. The set, designed by Bethany McComis ’09, will include the use of four separate projection screens that will show text, image and some video as a complement to the action on stage.

Gianfrancesco is a theatre/English double major from Rhode Island. An actor and director throughout high school, her directing credits at Smith include an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Wild Duck and a play reading of Commedia Dell'Smartass, by Sonya Sobieski ‘91. Also at Smith, Simone has acted in the Smith production of Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal and has stage-managed both Kushner’s adaptation of Cornielle's The Illusion and the world premiere of Paul Zimet and Ellen Maddow’s Flip Side. After Smith, Simone hopes to gain a Fulbright to study theatre in Europe before applying to graduate school.
Playwright Tony Kushner won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Angels in America and an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Munich (2005). He has also been the recipient of numerous awards including an Emmy Award, two Tony Awards, Evening Standard Award, OBIE, New York Drama Critics Circle Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Whiting Writers Fellowship, Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fellowship, National Foundation of Jewish Culture, Cultural Achievement award, Honorary Doctor of Letters from Pace University on May 25, 2004, and Honorary Degree from Brandeis University on May 21, 2006.

Purchase tickets in advance by calling the Mendenhall Center box office, 413-585-2787 (ARTS), in person Monday through Friday between 1 and 4 p.m. at the box office, or at the door beginning one hour before show time.

2/25/08   Theatre Department press release
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