(LENOX, Mass.) – The Wharton Salon celebrates its fifth anniversary this August with Two By Wharton, two Edith Wharton stories newly adapted into one-act comedies for the company: The Quicksand, adapted by Alison Ragland, directed by Catherine Taylor-Williams; and The Looking Glass, adapted by Elaine Smith, directed by Daniela Varon, running August 14-25, 2013 at The Mount.
The plays showcase Edith Wharton’s early and late writing. The acting company includes Ariel Bock, Wesley Cooper, Ava Lindenmaier and Diane Prusha, with costumes by Arthur Oliver and sound and music composition by Alexander Sovronsky.
In The Quicksand (1902), Mrs. Quentin (Ariel Bock), an “old fashioned intuitive woman” of the Fifth-Avenue social set, consoles her son Alan (Wesley Cooper), who has been jilted by a young lady, Hope Fenway (Ava Lindenmaier), with little means but lofty ideals. Hope objects to Alan’s profession as the owner of The Radiator, a tabloid newspaper and scandal-sheet whose yellow journalism has brought many to ruin. It has also made the Quentin family considerably wealthy for two generations. Alan begs his mother to plead his case with the young lady, and the two women meet for afternoon tea. Mrs. Quentin urges Hope to compromise her ideals for the sake of love and family. Hope’s resolve wavers as she truly loves Alan, but she is unable to make the sacrifice. After several months, the two women meet again at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both women confess they have not been able to stop thinking about their first meeting, and the scene ends in a classic Wharton reversal of circumstances.
In The Looking Glass (1937), Cora Atlee (Diane Prusha) has retired very well for a masseuse to rich society ladies. She is especially beholden to Mrs. Clingsland, a particularly demanding client who due to a debt of gratitude has left Cora with independent means, but a bad conscience. As a good Catholic she knows she should go to Father Divott, her priest, for absolution but, wanting to keep her inheritance she rejects this idea and instead confesses her sin to the audience: Long ago, she performed an unusual service along with her usual facials and relaxing massages. She acted as a clairvoyant to bring passionate posthumous messages to Mrs. Clingsland from a much younger man who had died young during the Great War and had never confessed his love during his lifetime. Sometimes the messages came from the beyond, and sometimes she made them up, but as Cora says: I’ll never understand why there is any harm in giving people a little encouragement when they need it.”
“We’re delighted to be celebrating our fifth anniversary with two new Wharton pieces that will get their onstage debuts this year,” says producing artistic director Catherine Taylor-Williams. “It’s been wonderful to have several writers step forward and say they want to adapt Wharton stories for our company actors. We have two other adaptations being worked on for future seasons, and now in our fifth year, we’re breaking new ground artistically – I couldn’t be happier with what is developing.”
The Wharton Salon is a professional theatre company that performs the stories of novelist Edith Wharton and her contemporaries in site-specific locations, offering a unique intimacy between author, actor, and audience; and drawing connections between literature, architecture, and nature.
The Mount is a center for culture inspired by the passions and achievements of Edith Wharton. Designed and built by Wharton in 1902, the house embodies the principles outlined in her influential book, The Decoration of Houses (1897). The property includes three acres of formal gardens surrounded by extensive woodlands designed by Wharton, who was also an authority on European landscape design. Programming at The Mount reflects Wharton’s core interests in the literary arts, interior design and decoration, garden and landscape design, and the art of living.
Tickets are $35 General Admission. Performances take place in The Stables Theatre at The Mount (2 Plunkett St. Lenox, MA) Wednesday to Friday at 5:30 pm and on weekends Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Run time is 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission during which tea and cookies will be served backstage. For tickets and information go to The Wharton Salon or call 1-800-838-3006.
At A Glance
Production: TWO BY WHARTON: The Quicksand and The Looking Glass
Adapted from Edith Wharton, by Alison Ragland and Elaine Smith
Theatre: The Stables Theatre at The Mount, 2 Plunkett Street, Lenox, MA
Cast: Ariel Bock, Wesley Cooper, Ava Lindenmaier and Diane Prusha
Directors: Catherine Taylor-Williams and Daniela Varon
Production Stage Manager: Jamie Steffen
Set Design: Travis George
Costume Design: Arthur Oliver
Sound Design and Musical Composition: Alexander Sovronsky
Technical Director: Maia Robbins Zust and Berkshire Production Resources
Assistant Stage Manager: Elena Faviero
Dates/Times: Wednesday August 14 and Thursday August 15 at 5:30 pm
Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18 at 3:00 pm
Wednesday August 21 – Friday August 23 at 5:30 pm
Saturday, August 24 and Sunday August 25 at 3:00 pm
Tickets: $35, General Admission. Wheelchair accessible.
Online ticketing anytime at www.whartonsalon.org
Box office for telephone orders: 1-800-838-3006
Tickets will be sold at the door, based on availability, one hour before each scheduled performance.