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The Children's Hour

The Children's Hour
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Lillian Hellman
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 75
Pub. Date: 1953
ISBN-10: 0822202050
ISBN-13: 9780822202059
Cast Size: 12 female, 2 male

About the Play:

The Children's Hour was one of Royal National Theatre of Britain's top 100 plays of the 20th century.

The Children's Hour has long been a favourite of acting teachers for female/female scenes and female/male scenes.

The Children's Hour is a full-length drama by Lillian Hellman. It tells the story of two female teachers whose lives are forever changed when a selfish student falsely accuses them of engaging in a romantic relationship; her bullying ultimately destroys the lives of the two women. The Children's Hour is a devastating story of deceit, shame and courage; its potent exploration of a culture of fear remains startlingly relevant.

The Children's Hour is a serious and adult play set in an all-girls boarding school run by two women, Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. They have worked for years to establish the Wright-Dobie School for Girls in the New England countryside, and now, with the school flourishing and Karen on the verge of marriage, their lives and loves finally appear secure. However, when malicious pupil Mary Tilford runs away from the school and seeks to avoid being sent back, she draws on hearsay, gossip, and her own imagination, to concoct a story that threatens the school, the marriage, and their entire futures. As Mary comes to understand the power she wields, she sticks by her story. The accusation of a lesbian affair proceeds to destroy the women's careers, relationships and lives. It is later discovered that the gossip was pure invention, but it is too late. Irreparable damage has been done. Prefaced by an interview with the author by Harry Gilroy from the New York Times.

Children's Hour premiered in 1934 at the Maxine Elliot Theatre, with a cast of relatively unknown actors. It was an immense hit, running on Broadway for 691 performances, which, at the time, set the record for the longest single-venue run in theater history. Her first and most famous play, it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and rejected because it was considered too scandalous, a decision that outraged the New York theatre critics into forming the Drama Critics' Circle in protest and awarding its own annual prize for drama the following year. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in repertory, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 12 female, 2 male

About the Playwright:

Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) is considered one of the most acclaimed American dramatists of the first half of the twentieth century. In an era that largely favoured lighthearted romantic plays and drawing-room comedies, her works explored the human capacity for malice, the allure of power and money, and the dichotomy between individual interests and social conscience. She was also the first woman to be admitted into the previously all-male club of American "dramatic literature", primarily on the basis of two enormously successful plays from the 1930s: The Children's Hour and The Little Foxes.

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