Vanderbilt Theatre to present Lillian Hellman’s ‘The Children’s Hour’

Vanderbilt University Theatre's production of The Children's Hour premieres Feb. 17 at Neely Auditorium (Department of Theatre)

The Children’s Hour, Lillian Hellman’s scathing indictment of a community that blindly accepts the lies and accusations of a young school girl, premieres at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 at Vanderbilt University’s Neely Auditorium.

“Although written in the 1930s, Hellman’s play still resonates today,” said Jon W. Hallquist, associate professor of theatre, who will direct the production.

“We have chosen to place our production in the early-’50s to highlight the striking similarities of the McCarthy era in our country. Interestingly enough, Hellman herself was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee at this time in history. After refusing to incriminate fellow artists as Communists, she chose to direct herself the 1952 revival of The Children’s Hour.”

Written in 1934, The Children’s Hourenjoyed a successful two-year run on Broadway. The then-highly controversial inclusion of homosexual content resulted in the play being banned in Boston and Chicago. Two film adaptations directed by William Wyler followed in 1936 and 1961. The first version altered the play to reflect a love triangle, while the later adaptation held truer to the play’s original storyline.

There will be several opportunities to see the play that launched Hellman’s illustrious career. Performances are scheduled for Feb. 17, 18, 22, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and a matinee performance is scheduled Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 for the general public, $7 for graduate students and free for undergraduates with Vanderbilt identification.

Built in 1925, Neely Auditorium, the Gothic-style building that now houses the Vanderbilt Theatre’s productions, was once the central meeting place on campus. An extensive renovation in 1976 resulted in one of the most innovative experimental theatre facilities on any U.S. campus.

The next performance in the 2011-12 series will be William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night on Feb. 25. Call (615) 322-2404 for more information or visit

For more information about the 2011-12 Vanderbilt Theatre season, visit