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Nothing can stop the Marquis de Sade, locked away in the Charenton lunatic asylum because of his licentious habits and scandalous literary works. He continues to write against all odds.

Deprived of his pen, paper and ink, De Sade resorts to more desperate stratagems with dreadful and peculiar results. Doug Wright wields his own lacerating pen to cackle fiendishly at the self-righteous gatekeepers of morality. By turns witty, ironic, shocking and lyrical, QUILLS is feverishly Grand Guignol, a highly theatrical exploration of love and art and the responsibility of self-expression. Quills previews June 5 & 6, Opens June 7 and runs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm until July 3rd, at the Julia Morgan Theatre in Berkeley.
Be forewarned: This show is not appropriate for anyone under the age of 17.

Written with malicious glee, Quills is an audacious treatment of the scandalous life and sensational literature of the Marquis de Sade. In a moving, witty and horrifying brew of Grand Guignol theater, melodrama, and Gothic romance, 2003 Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright (I Am My Own Wife) has composed a deeply prescient and biting satire on the politics of censorship.

In Quills, Wright makes fanciful use of biographical detail, departing from history to spin a tale worthy of the Marquis' own dark imagination. Set during the last years of de Sade's life, Quills is based on a historical detail from the author's last years, in which de Sade composed and smuggled out his works from a cell in the Charenton asylum, while repressive agents from the court of Napoleon struggled to rehabilitate and finally to silence him. As the Marquis writes, the combined forces of the Catholic Church and the French government bear down, initially denying him paper and quill, and eventually resorting to hyperbolic, almost ridiculously violent means of silencing his lacerating imagination.

Written in the shadow of the NEA funding scandals of the 1990's, Wright asks several fascinating and pressing questions in Quills: what is the role of the artist in a repressive culture? Was de Sade a literary maverick or just a pernicious pornographer? What is the cost we pay as a society when we censor marginalized art? Does art reflect human behavior or incite it? In the traditions of Grand Guignol, Wright has found a fiendishly clever theatrical equivalent to the humor and horror of de Sade's literature. Known for its fascination with perversity and madness, Paris's Grand Guignol Theater brought together diverse 19th century audiences expecting a fun, visceral, Gothic-style entertainment, and audiences came primed for thrills and chills. The predecessor of such tales as Sweeney Todd and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Grand Guignol theater appealed to both high-brow intelligentsia and low-brow thrill seekers, and in Quills, it offers Wright a deliciously nasty framework for this witty and ultimately deeply moving play.

Doug Wright won an Obie Award for outstanding achievement in playwriting and the Kesselring Award for best new American play from the National Arts Club for his play Quills - and went on to write the screenplay adaptation for the Academy Award nominated film featuring Geoffery Rush, Michael Caine and Kate Winslet. After its successful premiere at New York Theater Workshop, the play has proved enormously successful in the regional theater, with productions in Seattle (ACT), Philadelphia (The Wilma Theater) and Minneapolis (Guthrie).

For this Bay Area premiere, Shotgun has assembled a stellar cast featuring some of the Area's most accomplished actors as well as several talented newcomers, including 2003 Bay Area Critics Circle nominee and Shotgun Artistic Associate Richard Louis James (Stanislavsky in The Death of Meyerhold) as the Marquis, David Cramer (Word-for Word, Magic Theater) as the infamous Dr. Royer-Collard, as well as Lisa Hernandez, Taylor Valentine, Jason Wong and Shotgun Company Member Judy Phillips. The design team features Alf Pollard and Lisa Clarke (set), Rob Anderson (lights), Donna Marie of Berkeley Repertory Theater (costumes), Tod Nixon of SF Opera and Beach Blanket Babylon (sound), Jeanine Rogers (props), and John Malmquist (graphic design). The play is directed by multiple award-winning Shotgun Company member Reid Davis (Bent, 3 Sisters, The Play About the Baby) whose professional work has been seen at ACT, Cal Shakes, and Actors Theater of Louisville.

PreviewedJune 5 & 6
Opened June 7
Ran Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm
Through July 3rd
at the Julia Morgan Theatre in Berkeley



East Bay Express
Daily Californian
Contra Costa Times
SF Chronicle
Oakland Tribune

Click for:
Hi-Res Color
Screen Res Color

Richard Louis James (Stanislavsky in The Death of Meyerhold) as the Marquis

Lisa Jenai Hernandez as Madeline

David Cramer*
Lisa Jenai Hernandez
Richard Louis James
Judy Phillips
Taylor Valentine
Jason Wong
*member of the Actor's Equity Association

Alf Pollard
Charis Boke
Donna Marie
Evren Odcikin
Jeanine Rodgers
John Malmquist
Tod Nixon
Lisa Clark
Liz Lisle
Patrick Dooley
Reid Davis
Rob Anderson
Trish Mulholland - Casting Coordinator


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