Theater at Monmouth will stage “Sofonisba” July 29-Aug. 19. From left are Sophia Mobbs as Isabella, Reece Santos as King Phillip, and Amber McNew as Sofonisba. PHoto b y Aaron Flacke

“Sofonisba,” a play about the hunger for creation, birth and art, and the very real cost of both will be staged at Theater at Monmouth, 796 Main St., Monmouth.

Theater at Monmouth presents Callie Kimball’s “Sofonisba,” the final opening of seven shows making up its (R)evolutionary Redux Summer Season.

Performance times are 7:30 p.m. July 29, 30, Aug. 5, 7, 11, 17 and 19; and 1 p.m. Aug. 8 and 21.

Michelangelo’s 27-year-old apprentice, Sofonisba Anguissola, boards a ship from Italy to become the first female court painter for King Philip II. Her 20 years at the Spanish Court are one long chess match, played for and against the expectations of King, Bishop, Fool, Knight, and 14-year-old Queen. The negotiations and sacrifices she makes in service to her art and her heart reveal the dangerous waters of court politics for an unmarried, headstrong woman. Embark on a voyage of discovery with Sofonisba, Thursday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. through Saturday, August 21 including matinee and evening performances on both weekdays and weekends.

Playwright Callie Kimball centers the story around the friendship between Sofonisba and the young Queen Isabel. Both facing the limits of their gender, and the duty of creation, one with her portraiture, the other for a male-heir; the two women find solace and love with one another amidst the tumultuous landscape of the Spanish Court.

Reflecting on why she was first drawn to the play, Director Dawn McAndrews explains in a news release, “While there has never been a period in Western history in which women were completely absent in the visual arts, Sofonisba’s artistry and success blazed a trail (on her own terms) for greater numbers of women to pursue serious careers as artists.” McAndrew continues, “Sofonisba herself once said, ‘Life is full of surprises, I try to capture these precious moments with wide eyes.’ Thanks to the brilliance of Kimball’s words, I hope we have captured the quiet brilliance of Sofonisba and offered you a glimpse into her world through wide eyes.”

Kimball, has been living with Sofonisba for some time now,” I stumbled across the paintings of Sofonisba Anguissola in college purely by chance. I found her portraits arresting because her subjects seemed to hold so much in reserve. They all had such poise and seemed to carry secrets; their glances were oblique. At the time, I hadn’t yet discovered playwriting. I was writing a lot of poetry that was inspired by paintings, but more than ten years went by before I felt ready to try to write about her work. That’s how intimidated I was by her art.”

“Sofonisba” features Henry Hetz as Bishop as Don Francisco, Amber McNew as Sofonisba, Sophia Mobbs as Isabella, Michael Rosas as Fool and Reece Santos as King Phillip/Orazio. Directed by Dawn McAndrews; Set design by German Cardenas-Alaminos, Costume Design by Michelle Handley, Lighting Design by Jennifer Fok, Sound Design by Rew Tippin, Stage Management by Kailey Pelletier and Asst. Stage Management by Ty Bolduc.

Post-performance discussions will be pre-recorded and audiences will be able to stream the content before or after their selected dates. Discussions with the cast and creative team will cover the critical historical, artistic, and cultural perspectives of the worlds of each individual play.

Tickets cost $36 for adults, $31 for senior citizens, and $22 for students (18 and younger).

For more information, call the TAM Box Office at 207-933-9999 or visit www.theateratmonmouth.org.

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