What’s your play about, in a couple of sentences?
Equal parts fact and fantasy, Hollywood drama and supernatural comedy, Citizen Eve looks into the thistly hearts of the complex men and women behind one of the most beloved and celebrated movies of all time, All About Eve. Open for analysis include the film’s acclaimed-though-insecure screenwriter-director Joe Mankiewicz; his wife, Rosa Stradner, and his brother, Herman Mankiewicz (co-author, with Orson Welles, of Citizen Kane), both of whom simultaneously bedevil and inspire Joe; and Bette Davis, the legendary actress who steps in at the last minute to save the production that will in turn save her own career. Stir in the machinations of some mischievously Macbethish muses, and you have the bewitching brew we call Citizen Eve.
What was the impetus that made you want to write it?
Insatiable fans of All About Eve for almost as long as we can remember, we wanted to write a play that probes into the sources of the mystique of this perennially popular movie (one that seems to have been somehow “preconceived” to become iconic) without seeking to demystify it. Inspired by the film’s supreme sophistication, we attempted a similarly sophisticated, somewhat “cubist” technique of viewing our subject (especially the never-before-dramatized story of star manquée Rosa Stradner) through a variety of frames and lenses that includes Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Freudian psychology, dreams, hallucinations, camp humor, and Wildean wit.
Has it been produced anywhere else?
Orlando Shakespeare Theater’s staged readings of Citizen Eve during Playfest! will be our play’s first production of any kind.
What do you hope to get out of its inclusion in PlayFest?
On the emotional (and most important) level, because Citizen Eve truly is our theatrical “love letter” to All About Eve and to the personalities who helped create this cinematic masterpiece, we can think of no greater joy than publicly presenting this “love letter” to Playfest! audiences. On the professional level, we are absolutely thrilled to make our playwriting debut at Playfest!, and like a certain Eve we both know very well, we hope our inclusion in the festival heralds “the end of an old road and the beginning of a new one, all paved with stars.”
Born in Hampton, VA, Scott Bibb is a former Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in the Humanities and teaches dramatic literature with an emphasis on the Greeks and Shakespeare.
Born in Cleveland, OH, Jerry Rice has a background in theater set design, costuming, and makeup. He eagerly accepted the invitation to engage in the collaborative process that resulted in Citizen Eve.