Baltimore’s Cone Sisters to be Subjects of a World Premiere Play

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Director Joseph Ritsch. Photo by Dan Corey/via Rep Stage.

The Cone sisters are well-known to visitors of the Baltimore Museum of Art, which has a wing dedicated to the art they collected.

Next year, the sisters will be introduced to a theater audience as well, when a Howard County production company presents the world premiere of a play about their lives.

“All She Must Possess” is the title of a play by Susan McCully about Baltimore sisters Claribel and Etta Cone, who lived in Bolton Hill’s Marlborough apartments and collected works by masters such as Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas and Vincent van Gogh.

Rep Stage, the professional regional theater in residence at Howard Community College, announced it will produce McCully’s play as part of its 25th anniversary season lineup for 2017 and 2018. According to Rep Stage, this will be the first time it has been staged anywhere, and it will focus on the quieter of the two sisters, Etta, including her relationship with writer Gertrude Stein.

“The Baltimore Cone sisters, Dr. Claribel and Miss Etta, daughters of German-Jewish immigrants, could have lived tranquil, appropriate lives as respected Victorian ladies. Instead, the iconic duo voraciously collected art and curios from around the world,” the theater company said in its announcement about the production. “The unassuming Etta, often overshadowed by her sister, sat demurely among art and literary geniuses of the early twentieth century while slowly amassing one of world’s greatest Modern art collections.”

The play will be produced by Rep Stage in participation with the 2018 DC Women’s Voices Theater Festival. It will run from Feb. 7-25, 2018. Joseph Ritsch will be the director.

In addition to this production, Rep Stage will produce three contemporary classics during the 2017-2018 season: “The Heidi Chronicles” by Wendy Wasserstein, Sept. 6-24, 2017, with Jenna Duncan as director; “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill” by Lanie Robertson, Nov. 1-19, 2017, with Danielle Drakes as director and Cedric Lyles as musical director; and “True West” by Sam Shepard, April 25-May 13, 2018, with Vincent Lancisi of Everyman Theatre as director.

The 25th anniversary season marks a leadership transition for Rep Stage because Suzanne Beal, co-producing artistic director, plans to retire at the end of the 2016–2017 season. Joseph Ritsch will continue to lead Rep Stage as the producing artistic director.

“The 25th anniversary season provides an opportunity for past Rep Stage artists and those who are new to Rep Stage to collaborate on creating the very best in regional theater,” Ritsch said in a statement. “As Rep Stage celebrates its past and looks toward the future, I am committed to producing engaging and evocative American contemporary classics and new work for seasons to come.”

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