Inspired by a 19th-century legal case, Lillian Hellman's landmark drama, The Children's Hour, premiered in 1934 to great acclaim amid tremendous controversy. When an angry student accuses two female boarding school teachers of having an affair, the results are devastating. As their lives fall apart, the women struggle to clear their stained reputations amidst a flurry of attacks and questions about the basis of the allegations. "It's not about lesbians," Hellman explained to Samuel Goldwyn's story editor, who wanted to buy the screen rights of the play. "It's about the power of a lie." Because of its theme, The Children's Hour gained some notoriety, and was initially banned in Boston, Chicago and London. The controversy over its content also scared off the Pulitzer Prize selection committee, which refused to attend a single performance of the play. The uproar also forced Hellman to turn the central adult conflict into a standard love and jealousy triangle in her film adaptation, released in 1936 as These Three. Director Nick Bowling promises a bold, innovative staging of this provocative classic.
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