The Geller Girls
by Janece Shaffer
directed by Susan V. Booth
originally produced at Alliance Theatre,
January 15, 2014
through February 9, 2014
(Photo: Playwright Janece Shaffer)
The Geller Girls is a romantic comedy about two Jewish sisters, Louisa and Rosalee, at the turn of the century in Atlanta. The play opens on the eve of the 1895 Atlanta Cotton Exhibition, an event that was opened by President Grover Cleveland and that over its three-month long run drew 800,000 visitors to Atlanta. Designed to promote the cotton region to the world, this story takes us on a parallel journey to the Exhibition. Moving between the upper middle class Geller home, the Geller Fabric shop, the streets of Atlanta, and the Exhibition in Piedmont Park, Louisa and Rosalee struggle between the safety of the home life that they know and the excitement of the new world with which they are just becoming acquainted. Up until this point, their lives seem to be traveling on preordained paths, but as the story unfolds we find the sisters exploring all that the new, radical 20th century will bring and how that may change their life choices.
Janece Shaffer is a beloved Atlanta playwright who has had an especially fruitful relationship with the Alliance Theatre. The Geller Girls marks Janece’s fifth world premiere at the Alliance and her third collaboration since Susan Booth came on as Artistic Director. Janece and Susan have developed a wonderful artistic and professional marriage that has catapulted Janece from a successful local playwright to a national voice. Ms. Shaffer’s newest work is her first attempt at writing a historical drama. Her work to date has been marvelously of her community and of the moment, yet The Geller Girls rose out of equally organic circumstances as she and her daughter took the opportunity to together explore the Cotton States Exhibition of their home town. A sense of fun as well as Romantic entertaining imbues the play. It examines a historical time period but instead of seeming academically historical it vibrates with the energy of a time and makes history come alive. The play combines Atlanta’s coming of age with two young women’s coming of age, as well as documenting important social changes to middle class women at the end of the nineteenth century.
This grant allows the Alliance to extend the rehearsal period for Janece Shaffer’s The Gellery Girls from the budgeted three week process to four weeks. This extra week of rehearsal will be especially useful given the organic nature of Janece’s process that relies on every minute of rehearsal time to take its full form. Her actors are collaborators, and she is very open to director and dramaturgical feedback, all of which make the mechanics of her work stronger.
Additional Funding: The Geller Girls is part of the Coca-Cola Series on the Alliance Stage.
• PNC – Series Sponsor
• Delta Air Lines – Official Airline of the Alliance Theatre
• Marriott Residence Inn – Official Hotel of the Alliance Theatre
• The Home Depot – Set Construction Sponsor of the Alliance Theatre
• Made possible with grants from the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, the Fulton County Arts Council, Georgia Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Director: Susan V. Booth