ALLISON STOCKMAN: I first approached Eleanor to direct for Constellation, and she proposed this world premiere of Zorro. I love the story – who doesn’t? Adventure, romance, passion, swashbuckling – Zorro has it all! Zorro is also a great fit with Constellation’s mission. Zorro is an epic, timeless legend with opportunities for visual spectacle, original music and heightened movement. It’s a strong ensemble piece about the importance of standing up for justice for all. Janet and Eleanor have also written a script with beautiful language, poetic imagery and a healthy dose of humor.
JL: Zorro is co-written and directed by Janet Allard and Eleanor Holdridge. Why was it important to have a female perspective on a male driven story?
AS: Janet and Eleanor’s female perspective on the story gives it two advantages. First, Zorro is a romantic hero, dashing and clever, while Diego is smart, but shy and still finding himself. The playwrights have balanced his charming appeal with emotional vulnerability in a way that gives the character great depth. Second, the character of Lolita is often downplayed and portrayed as a one-dimensional ingénue who only serves as the love interest for men. In Janet and Eleanor’s version, Lolita is political and fiery. She has a provocative voice and is herself going on a journey of self-discovery with a strong arc.
JL: Johnston McCulley created Zorro in 1919 as part pulp-fiction series. What makes this story of romance, heroism and adventure relevant to audiences?
AS: The entertainment aspects of Zorro – the double identity, mystery, swashbuckling, romance – thrill people today just as they did in 1919, and as they did thousands of years ago. Kissing and fighting never gets old. This version of Zorro also focuses on Diego’s dilemma about what to do when faced with corruption and violence. He takes the risk of standing up for what he knows is right in the face of danger, political oppression and social pressure. This challenge of doing the right thing, even when it is difficult and frightening, is just as relevant today as it was nearly a hundred years ago. Watching the politics in Washington and in the world always reminds me of this tension.
JL: You’re billing this adaptation as a coming of age story about self-discovery and the courage needed to seek justice for all. What can audiences learn from Diego’s passion, zeal and sense of duty?
AS: Hopefully Zorro inspires people to think for themselves and to have the courage of their convictions. On a basic human level, Zorro is also about living your own personal truth and embracing the challenges of self-discovery and transformation. We choose who we are by what we say and what we do. We often tend towards what is easy, but Zorro follows his inner desire to be brave, passionate and just.
JL: If there is one thing you want audiences to walk away knowing or thinking about after experiencing Zorro, what would that be?
AS: I hope the audience walks away from Zorro having had a wonderful time, having thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I hope it might spark conversation about how this version is different from other Zorros and why this story continues to appeal to people 100 years later. Perhaps people will enjoy thinking about all of the stories and super heroes that Zorro has inspired. I hope it also encourages people to live their own lives passionately, taking the chance to fall in love and being courageous enough to become active in their own community.
WHO: Constellation Theatre Company
WHAT: Zorro by Janet Allard and Eleanor Holdridge. Directed by Eleanor Holdridge
WHERE: Source Theatre 1835 14th St. NW
WHEN: January 17- February 17, 2013.
OTHER: Audiences aged 10 and up. A parent or guardian should accompany any child under 13.
Constellation Theatre Company Mission:
Constellation Theatre Company’s mission is to spark the curiosity and imagination of the people of Greater Washington, DC by bringing stories to life from all over the world. Visual spectacle, music and movement unite with an exuberant acting ensemble to create an exhilarating entertainment experience.