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Lillian Hellman Festival
Event Calendar

Lillian Hellman Festival

The Lillian Hellman Festival features programming designed to explore and celebrate the iconic playwright, author and political activist. The Festival also includes two full productions—The Little Foxes and Watch on the Rhine.

Following the loss of Arena Stage’s co-founder and Artistic Director of 40 years, Arena Stage dedicates the Lillian Hellman Festival to the memory of Zelda Fichandler.

All Festival events are FREE but reservations are required.


Arena Stage presents
Taffety Punk Theatre Company’s Reading of
Toys in the Attic

Directed by Lise Bruneau
Wednesday, January 25 at 8:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

Toys in the Attic is the last full-length original play that Hellman wrote, and it is said to be somewhat autobiographical. The play focuses on the Berniers sisters, two middle-aged spinsters living in New Orleans after the Great Depression. When their younger brother, Julian, unexpectedly returns home and they find out he has not only married, but has also mysteriously acquired a small fortune, the delicate power structure Carrie and Anna always maintained over him is upset, sending their lives into chaos. Under the direction of Lise Bruneau, who plays Sara Muller in Arena Stage’s upcoming production of Watch on the Rhine, the reading features Tonya Beckman, Audrey Bertaux, Daniel Crane, Kim Schraf and Craig Wallace.


Film Screening of Julia

Friday, January 27 at 8:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

Julia is a 1977 film based on Lillian Hellman’s book Pentimento: A Book of Portraits. It was adapted for the screen by Alvin Sargent and directed by Fred Zinneman. The film depicts playwright Lillian Hellman (played by Jane Fonda) reuniting in Russia with her longtime friend Julia (Vanessa Redgrave), who urges Hellman to undertake a dangerous mission to smuggle funds into Nazi Germany. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director for Fred Zinnemann and Best Actress for Jane Fonda. It ended up winning three awards—Best Supporting Actor for Jason Robards, Best Supporting Actress for Vanessa Redgrave and Best Adapted Screenplay for Alvin Sargent's script.


Arena Stage presents
Howard University's, College of Arts & Sciences,
Division of Fine Arts, Department of Theatre Arts’ Reading of
The Children’s Hour

Directed by Raymond O. Caldwell
Saturday, January 28 at 8:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

Hellman’s best-known and most-produced work, The Children’s Hour, is a drama that takes place in an all-women’s boarding school. A student who has run away from school accuses the two headmistresses of having an affair in order to avoid being sent back to her home. The accusation leaves the two implicated women struggling to recover their professional reputations and personal lives. Under the direction of Howard University lecturer and director Raymond O. Caldwell, the reading features Devonne Bowman, Ricky Brown III, Brittany Clark, Ezinne Elele, Madison Harris, Danielle King, Tehya Merritt, Shawnee Owens, Chinna Palmer, Kayla Parker, Adanna Paul, Alexcia Thompson, Kevin Thorne II and Kyra Walker.


Panel Discussion – Beyond Gender: Inspiring Generations of Female Writers

Sunday, January 29 at 4:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

During this panel, contemporary female playwrights discuss the effect that Hellman’s writing, life and legacy have had on their own careers. Panelists include Executive Director of the National New Play Network and Coordinating Producer of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival Nan Barnett; Georgetown University Professor and playwright Christine Evans; and playwrights Mary Kathryn Nagle and Karen Zacarías.


Reading of Another Part of the Forest

Directed by Amelia Acosta Powell
Friday, February 3 at 8:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

In this biting prequel to The Little Foxes, Hellman exposes the history of the Hubbard family. Patriarch Marcus Hubbard is a self-made man who went from rags to riches during the Civil War through sheer exploitation and manipulation of his fellow man. He treats his wife and two sons with nearly as little respect as his laborers, pitting them against each other. He favors his daughter, Regina, but perhaps their relationship is even a little too close. Not unlike The Little Foxes, no one but the servants come out of the story untarnished by illegal, immoral or unethical behaviors. Under the direction of Arena Stage Artistic Associate and Casting Director Amelia Acosta Powell, the reading features Shayna Blass, Laura C. Harris, Susan Rome, Michael Russotto and Tom Wiggin.


Community-Wide Reading of Pentimento

Saturday, February 4 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

In this multi-hour community reading, members of the public are invited to sit together and read selections of Hellman’s 1973 memoir which offers deep insight into the fiercely intelligent woman and dramatic writer and this era of U.S. history. Like the annual New Bedford reading of the text of Moby Dick, this out-loud experience gives attendees a chance to read anywhere from a few sentences to a few pages aloud – or just to listen and engage with Hellman’s life and work in fresh and immersive way.


Panel Discussion – Hellman: The Radical

Sunday, February 5 at 5:00 p.m.
In the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle

Independent. Outspoken. Headstrong. Brave. Difficult. Communist. Liar. Depending on who you spoke to, those are just some adjectives used to describe Lillian Hellman. She grew up with the Roaring 20s, cut her teeth on politics during the Great Depression, became a fêted writer during WWII, survived the blacklisting of the 50s, became an idol of the women’s movement of the 60s and 70s and ended her life in notoriety. This panel explores Hellman’s radical lifestyle and the writing that proliferated from it. Panelists include Jackson Bryer, editor of Conversations with Lillian Hellman, and Alice Kessler-Harris, author of A Difficult Woman: The Challenging Life and Times of Lillian Hellman.


Cooking with Lillian

A contemporary take on Hellman's own recipes from her cookbook Eating Together: Recipes & Recollections, co-written with Peter Feibleman.


Washington Post test kitchen preparing No-Stir Macaroni and Cheese


Tryst Restaurant Group Chef Kevin Eckert preparing Beet, Endive and Walnut Salad


Hank’s Oyster Bar Owner Jamie Leeds preparing Mussels Mariniere


The Oval Room Executive Chef John Melfi baking Peach Cobbler


Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith cooking Red Beans and Rice


Rasika Executive Chef Vikram Sunderam baking Chocolate Pecan Pie


*Details are subject to change.

The Lillian Hellman Festival is generously sponsored by Beth Newburger Schwartz.