Maxine Peake and Charlotte Emmerson star in this passionate drama of prejudice and paranoia set in a small-town American community. Written in 1933, the play’s central theme of a pupil accusing her teachers of having a lesbian affair, caused huge controversy when first performed.
Lillian Hellman took her story of a schoolgirl's malicious gossip from real life: in 1809, an Edinburgh court accepted the claims of a student and found two of her teachers guilty of "inordinate affection." The school was closed within forty-eight hours of the girl's allegations and never re-opened, nor did the teachers get another job, although they won on appeal eleven years later.
The Children's Hour first opened on Broadway in 1934. It was an enormous success, running for twenty-one months and beginning the string of hits – The Little Foxes, Watch on the Rhine, Toys in the Attic - that made Hellman one of the most popular playwrights in mid-century American theatre.
In 1936 the play was made into a film directed by William Wyler. However, because of the Production Code, the story was adapted into a heterosexual love triangle. In 1961 the play was adapted, with its lesbian theme intact, for the film The Children's Hour, also directed by Wyler.
Sarah Frankcom, recently appointed as a full Artistic Director for the Royal Exchange, directs this production of Hellman's The Children's Hour. Sets by Liz Ascroft.
The Royal Exchange Theatre Web Site
Detailed schedule information:
Evening Performance Times: Monday – Friday, 7.30pm / Saturday 8pm
Matinee Performance Times: Wednesday 2.30pm / Saturday 4pm