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HMTC This Week: Louisa May Alcott: The power of a woman
HMTC This Week

HMTC This Week: Louisa May Alcott: The power of a woman

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HMTC is planning the play production of "Louisa May Alcott: The Power of a Woman" by national award-winning playwright, director, and actress Pamela Sterling. She will portray the life of Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, in a one-woman show.

HMTC has a long relationship with Pamela who is a professor of theater at Arizona State University. She has an extensive playwright resume which includes "Blue Willow," which was produced by Fresno State University in 2016.

If you did not see "Blue Willow," it is a charming play about the Central Valley from the Great Depression to the Great Recession. The play is derived from the book "Blue Willow" by Doris Gates, a Fresno native, published in 1940. It is considered a "juvenile Grapes of Wrath.”

"Little Women" is a coming-of-age classic that tells the story of four sisters growing up in Civil War America. They struggle with poverty, societal pressures, and the pangs of first love. The girls always manage to find joy in little things and forge their own paths as women in a time when life was not easy for the gender.

"Little Women" is a popular story. Yet, few people know the life story of the author Louisa May Alcott. Pamela’s play gives the audience the backstory of Alcott’s life as a pioneer for women’s rights. Historically notable, Ms. Alcott was a woman writer, poet, playwright, suffragist, and a women's liberationist icon during the 1800s. A unique aspect of the Hanford production is that the play will be housed in a building that was built in 1876.  Louisa’s novel was published in 1868.

"Little Women" is the best known of Ms. Alcott’s work. It continued in popularity even after her death in 1888. In fact, silent films were made of the story. However, most of them are now lost. Only the 1917 silent film in Britain remains from that silent film era.  

There are additional adaptations of Ms. Alcott’s work. According to The New Yorker, between 1935 and 1950, there were 48 radio dramatizations of "Little Women." Feature films were made in 1933, 1994, 2008, and 2019. The 1994 film was nominated for three Academy Awards and was directed by a woman.

Television introduced audiences to the tale from 1939 to present. Even a Japanese animated series took on the story called Ai no Wakakusa Monogatari or Love’s Tale of Young Grass. It was very loosely derived from Alcott’s book. Later dubbed in English, it ran on HBO as "Tales of Little Women" in 1988.

"Little Women" also appears on the theater stage. There was a 1912 Broadway play adapted by Marian de Forest. In 1969 and a 1998 an opera version of Little Women graced the stage.  In 2005 Broadway brought the story back at the Virginia Theater.

It is not surprising that this popular and charming story has playwrights adapting and readapting for the stage. Locally, in 2018, Kings Players did an adaption of "Little Women" by L. Don Swartz. There are also adaptations from Scott Davidson, Kristin LaurenceSandra Fenichel Asher, Thomas Hischak, Sara Spencer, and a 2006 touring version by Marisha Chamberlain.

The life of Louisa May Alcott, written and portrayed by Pamela Sterling, will not only be a treat locally, but it will also show the power of a woman named Louisa May Alcott.

Silvia Gonzalez Scherer is the Executive Artistic Director and co-founder of the Hanford Multicultural Theater Company. She is also a playwright and an actress. 

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