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Robert O€Hara€s €Antebellum€ Crosses Many Boundaries

Larry Saxton | 4/8/2009, 1:20 p.m.

Part mystery and part Hollywood romance, €Antebellum€ now showing at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre, is Robert O€Hara€s stylish new play that bridges time, space, religion and race to track a love affair that defies history€s harshest cruelties. The setting takes plane in 1939 in Germany, where Hitler€s death camps flourish; and in Atlanta, where the film €Gone with the Wind€ is premiering.

Ambitious both in its style (inspired by the big Hollywood epics of the period) and its content (a sexual mystery crossing boundaries of race and gender), €Antebellum€ is the work of a passionate artist who reaches for big ideas and big emotions,€ according to Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. O€hara €always leaves his audience with much to ponder and debate,€ Schalwitz said.
O€Hara has directed plays throughout the United States, and has had his plays produced around the world. He received an OBIE Award for his direction of the off-Broadway hit, €In the Continuum,€ and an Oppenheimer Award for Best New American Play for €Insurrection: Holding History,€ which he wrote and directed.

When O€Hara starts a project, he said he likes to do a lot of reading and research, and usually doesn€t start to write until he has about 80 percent of the different stories in his head. €If I get an idea, I don€t write it,€ he says. €It has to connect to another idea, and another idea, and then I will start to write.€
€Antebellum€ began as a commission to do play about Atlanta.

€When I think of Atlanta, I think of Gone with the Wind and I think of the old South and slavery,€ O€Hara explained. After a visit to the occupied territories in the Middle East and having to go through €check points,€ he said he began to think about Hitler€s Germany and what it must have been like during that time. €I began to connect the historical idea to a familiar idea, to an idea of sexuality, to an idea of behavior. I love history, and I love how we create stories out of history.€

The play is directed by Chay Yew and the cast features Woolly Mammoth Company members Jessica Frances Dukes and Jenna Sokolowski. €Antebellum€ runs through April 26, 2009 at The Woolly Mammoth Theatre, 641 D Street, NW.

For ticket information call 202-393-3939 or online at www.woollymammoth.net.