Gertrude's Other Woman

Article excerpt

Director Anne Bogart, long a leader of New York City's theatrical avant-garde, encounters a soul mate--Gertrude Stein

"I think Gertrude Stein is my mother," director Anne Bogart is fond of saying, "and Bertolt Brecht is my father." This offspring of two 20th-century geniuses might be better known if her spiritual parents were Walt Disney and Lucille Ball. But in the realms where she is known, which is any place theater equals "art" rather than "Broadway musicals," the 48-year-old Bogart is revered as one of the most innovative stage directors and influential acting teachers of her generation.

As a Columbia University theater professor and artistic director of the seven-year-old Saratoga International Theater Institute Company, Bogart has staged more than 70 productions of new plays and classics across the United States and abroad in the past 15 years.

Openly gay, she has staged works by lesbian playwright Paula Vogel (The Baltimore Waltz, Hot `n' Throbbing) and mounted theatrical portraits of iconic gay artists (Andy Warhol in Culture of Desire, Robert Wilson in Bob). Now she takes her closest look yet at lesbian love in Gertrude & Alice: A Likeness to Loving, a play about Stein and her lover Alice B. Toklas created and performed by Lola Pashalinski and Linda Chapman, playing through June 27 at the Signature Theatre in New York City.

"What draws me to the project is essentially Gertrude Stein," says Bogart. "I feel so influenced by the way she approached language--the use of a very small vocabulary with lots of repetition. What she did with words, I translate onstage with time and space."

The play circles around a critical moment in the relationship. "Alice found out that Gertrude had had an affair before they met that she never told her about," says Bogart. …