Townsite Actors Guild returns to the stage with its fourth production next month. The guild will present The Last Flapper to audiences at Magpie’s Diner on Friday and Saturday, February 7 and 8.
“The guild is only three years old, and we bring interesting theatre to intimate venues around Powell River,” said Stephanie Miller, star of the new play. “This production certainly fits the bill. There are only 50 seats for each show, and the play itself will challenge and entertain at the same time.”
The Last Flapper, written in 1986 by William Luce, follows Zelda Fitzgerald on the last day of her life. Wife of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda’s legacy has been that of her husband’s muse, but in fact she was a talented writer in her own right, as well as a rebel who challenged society’s norms until she became an inconvenience. The one-woman play shows her in an empty psychiatrist’s office at a sanitorium in 1948.
“Her psychiatrist has been called away, so she starts going through the files and reminiscing,” said Miller. “The play shows her exploring the areas of her life that have given her uncertainty, and she does change at the end. One of the tragedies of the play is that we know she dies that night after a fire breaks out and she, along with nine other women, are unable to escape from their locked rooms.”
Miller has starred in this production before, in November 2019 in Key West, Florida.
“I worked with the Fringe Theatre and director Rebecca Tomlinson to bring this character to life,” said Miller. “It was very challenging; Zelda grew up as a southern belle from Montgomery, Alabama, so I had to learn a lot about southern American culture, the flapper movement, and what life was like in the United States following World War I. I even had to learn an accent.”
Miller sees parallels between the flapper movement of the 1920s and today.
“The flapper movement was about women seizing their independence; they smoked, they wore shorter dresses, they drank, they worked, and they drove, and Zelda Fitzgerald was the original flapper, coming out and doing all these independent things for the first time,” she said. “She was cutting edge, and then everything was slowly taken away from her, because when people make society uncomfortable, society pushes back and puts fences about them. Today, we’re still working towards equality for women, and our conversations around mental health are better, but we still have work to do. Learning about Zelda’s life can help bring that work into focus, as we can see how far, or not far, we’ve come in 100 years.”
Tickets for the production are $20 each and available at Basecamp, Basecamp Outpost in Townsite, and Magpie’s, 6762 Cranberry Street. Seating is limited, and theatre-goers are encouraged to get their tickets early.
“Come out and meet Zelda,” said Miller. “Her own story is finally being told, and she is definitely an interesting character. It will be an entertaining and provocative evening, and we know Powell River will enjoy it.”