All about Eva

Shadows tells Eva Le Gallienne's story

SHADOWS by Margo MacDonald, directed by Diana Fajrajsl, with MacDonald and Sarah Finn, at Videofag (187 Augusta) from Friday (April 11) to April 19 at 8 pm. $15-$20.

Even theatre history buffs might not know the name of Eva Le Gallienne. The daughter of an English poet and a Danish journalist, Le Gallienne was raised in an artistic and literary family that shuttled between London and Paris.

She made her stage debut in 1914 in a Maeterlinck play at 15. Five years later, she was a leading lady on Broadway and founded the Civic Repertory Theatre.

Openly lesbian in her social circle but closeted by necessity in public, she counted Tallulah Bankhead, Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table among her friends. A dominant force in theatre throughout her career, she continued to struggle with the many issues affecting queer performers and artists from the 1920s through the 50s.

Margo MacDonald’s Shadows, which premiered at the Ottawa Fringe Festival in 2010, catches Le Gallienne at a troubling time of her life. Outed in the press and suffering after a debilitating accident, she struggles in seclusion in the country accompanied by her lover, actor Josephine Hutchinson. Slipping forward and back in time, she battles the demons surrounding identity, creativity, the demand for conformity, the perils of addiction and the price of art.

Videofag, which opened in 2012 in a converted barbershop in the heart of Kensington Market as a queer-positive art, video and performance space, hosts the first live production of Shadows in Toronto.

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