The Italian Wife Takes the Stage

In a season that included a prom combined with Pride and Prejudice, a meaty discussion on censorship and a piece that examined how we look at our bodies, Epic Theatre is about to open The Italian Wife, an adaptation from local nationally known best-selling author Ann Hood. So how does a story like this fit in a series that dealt with classic tales? Artistic director Kevin Broccoli knew where to turn: Ann Hood. “It was important to me that we didn’t fall into the trap of doing a season of dead white guys,” Broccoli jokes. “Ann is such a great storyteller.”

The Italian Wife is a tale over generations, beginning with a young girl who ages in the course of the evening. Although that sounds like an engaging story, where is that Epic twist that audiences have come to love and expect? “I knew I wanted an all-women cast, and that combined with the scope of the story is what gives the play an Epic quality.”

Of course there are different pressures when adapting Jane Austen and Ann Hood. First, Austen, as wonderful as she is, is … well … dead and can’t really be too upset over what is being done to her work. (She is WELL into public domain!) But to take a local, well-known New York Times bestselling author and transpose their work?  It ups the ante quite a bit.  “I did feel an immense amount of pressure, because I knew that there were things in the book that weren’t going to make it onstage.” The final product was met with Hood’s approval and Epic was ready to buckle up, as they say. In fact, Hood wasn’t even apprehensive about the undertaking. “I appreciate that this is a different genre and therefore has different demands. Also I am a huge fan of Kevin Broccoli so I know he did a bang-up job.” Although Hood’s work has been optioned for films that sadly haven’t made it to the screen yet, this is the first time Hood’s work has been adapted for the stage.

You can catch The Italian Wife at Contemporary Theatre Company in South Kingston, beginning Friday, March 11 at 7pm through Sunday, April 3. There is a Pay –What-You-Can performance on Thursday, March 31. Ann Hood’s newest book, The Book That Matters Most, will be out this August.

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