Thanks to everyone who attended Our March production in Lincoln.
CLICK HERE to read Amber Nore's Appearing Locally review.
This hour long one person play invites the audience into the Hopper world.
Jo is deciding whether to fulfill Edward's wishes of donating his unsold paintings to the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Can two artists survive in a cramped New York apartment?
Pippa White plays the role of Josephine Hopper
Judy Hart is the director & producer
CLICK HERE to read a wonderful feature story by Pat Sangiamino.
Conversation with Mr. Simon and Ms. White:
Norm - why did you write this play? I had been attracted to Edward Hopper’s paintings from the first time I saw one decades ago at the Whitney Museum. It was this attraction that led me to a biography: Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography by Gail Levin. What a surprise to learn that Hopper had a wife who was both model and muse, and played an outsized role in his life and his painting! She was a painter, too—her career fatally thwarted, she believed, by him, by the Whitney and by the artistic establishment of the time, which had no brief for female artists. In some sense her life was an ongoing conflict between her nurturing of a dismissive Hopper and her own ambitions as an artist. This is the story I wanted to tell in the play.
Pippa - what is it about Josephine Nivison that appeals to you? Josephine Nivison Hopper was a complicated but fascinating woman. She was a talented artist, she was beautifully educated, she was courageous (volunteered to go to Europe in World War I to work with wounded soldiers), and she was spunky and outspoken. The combination often proved to be too much for her talented, well-educated husband. Life with Edward Hopper had advantages and disadvantages for Jo. Despite her energy and her spirit, and her valid feelings of self-worth, there is a tragic side to the life of this woman, who gave up a great deal to be a wife. All of this makes Jo a very appealing character.
Norm - What do you want audiences to know about Jo & Edward from this production? I never thought of this play as educational or instructive. I was interested in Jo as a character whom I wanted to bring to life. I suppose that the most surprising thing that I myself learned is that she was the model for virtually all of his paintings.
Pippa - tell us a bit about your experience with one person shows. As an 8th grader at Herbert Hoover Junior High School in San Francisco, whenever we had to do a speech in English class (which was fairly frequent as I remember), I donned a hat, became a character, and gave, not a speech, but a monologue. Lucky for me, I had a supportive English teacher who let me take a few liberties with the speech assignments. But this got me used to performing alone at an early age, and I have never been particularly afraid or uncomfortable in that kind of theatre. This is why I turned to solo performing in the 1990s. It seemed to be a good way to have a theatre career, even if I wasn't in what we call a great "theatre market." I found that the world of history offered an inexhaustible supply of good dramatic material, and in designing my own one-woman shows, I got to play all the parts!
Norm - what would you like other playwrights to know about creating work based on real people? The Jo of the play is a fictional character. Any attempt to describe someone’s life is always fiction in some sense. Experiences are left out, juxtaposed, emphasized or downplayed. Even Jo’s diary excerpts (quoted in Levin’s book) provide merely a narrow window into her thoughts. Still, in reinventing Jo for the play, I felt constrained not to wander too far from the historical Jo, as portrayed in Levin’s book and by Jo herself in the diaries. That being said, another playwright working from exactly the same material might well have come up with a very different play. As in any work of fiction, the personality, beliefs and experiences of the writer are what gives shape to the material he or she chooses to treat.
Pippa - do you see a future for this play beyond the Lincoln performance? Yes, indeed. Wherever there are Hopper fans, or museums with his works, there will be interest and an audience