Staff Report

The Santa Ynez High School Theatre Group is presenting Jay Presson’s adaptation of the Muriel Sparks novella “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie” as its fall production.

The curtain will rise at 7 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, Dec. 6-8 and Dec. 13-15 in the Santa Ynez High School Little Theatre.

General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and will be available at the door. Because of some mature subject matter, this production may not be suitable for younger children.

First produced onstage in 1967, the play was adapted into a film in 1969 in which Maggie Smith won the Oscar for best actor. Set in an Edinburgh, Scotland, private girls’ school in 1931, it has a cast of 33 actors and musicians.

The student actors have studied and will be speaking the Edinburgh Scottish brogue, and though the show is not a musical, the musicians and singers will be playing and singing traditional Scottish folk tunes written by the Bard of Scotland, Robert Burns, as transitional devices.

With memories of the devastation of The Great War still fresh in the minds of Europeans in 1931, political forces were polarizing between the communist Bolshevik ideal for a utopian equality and the emerging fascism that seemed to promise order and a revitalized economy badly needed to recover from the devastation of World War I.

The world of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the microcosm of The Marcia Blaine School for Girls was no different. The play’s heroine, teacher Miss Jean Brodie, has been won over by the early fascist movement of Mussolini’s Italy, from where she has just returned from her summer holiday.

Claiming to be “in her prime,” Miss Brodie, whose early years were marked by a tragic romance with a soldier-beau lost in the Great War, is known for her charismatic influence over legions of girls she dubs “the crème de la crème,” and whom outsiders dub with some resentment “The Brodie Girls.” Her newfound ideals collide with the impressionable minds of her young charges, resulting in tragedy.

Burns (1759-1796), widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, also collected and composed folk songs. His poem “Auld Lang Syne” is often sung at  New Year celebrations, and “Scots Wha Hae,” included in this production along with seven other tunes written by Burns, has served as an unofficial national anthem of the country.

Director Jeff McKinnon has dubbed his ensemble of musicians “The Bobby Burns Band,” which includes a traditional ensemble of fiddle, guitar, banjo, keyboard, flute and percussion.

For more information call 805-688-6487, ext. 2361.