When a schoolgirl's whisper spreads, it triggers a chain of events with extraordinary consequences. Karen Wright (Keira Knightley) and Martha Dobie (Elisabeth Moss) run a girls’ boarding school in 1930s New England, where they become entangled in a devastating story of deceit, shame and courage. Banned in London and several cities across America, The Children's Hour received its world premiere on Broadway in 1934. Generations on, its potent exploration of a culture of fear remains startlingly relevant.
Keira Knightley was last on stage in The Misanthrope directed by Thea Sharrock at the Comedy Theatre in 2009. Her many film credits include Never Let Me Go which opened the 2010 London Film Festival, Bend It Like Beckham, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, King Arthur, The Jacket, Pride and Prejudice, Domino, Silk, Atonement, The Edge of Love, The Duchess, Last Night and the forthcoming London Boulevard and A Dangerous Method. Her television credits include the critically-acclaimed remake of Doctor Zhivago, Oliver and Coming Home.
Elisabeth Moss, who will make her West End debut in The Children’s Hour, is best known for playing the role of Peggy Olson in the ongoing award-winning television series Mad Men, for which she has received both Emmy Award and SAG Award nominations, as well as for the role of Zoe Bartlett in The West Wing. Moss made her Broadway stage debut in David Mamet’s Speed- the-Plow in 2008. Her film credits include Get Him to the Greek, Did you Hear About the Morgans? and Girl, Interrupted, as well as the forthcoming On the Road and Darling Companion.
Ian Rickson most recently directed the critically-acclaimed production of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance. He has also directed Butterworth’s The Winterling, The Night Heron, Mojo and Parlour Song. Rickson was Artistic Director of the Royal Court from 1998 to 2006 where his many productions included Krapp’s Last Tape, which he also directed for BBC4, Fallout, which he also directed as a film for Channel 4, The Weir and Mojo, both of which transferred to the West End and Broadway, and the award-winning production of The Seagull, which was transferred to Broadway by Sonia Friedman Productions. For the National Theatre he has directed The Hothouse and The Day I Stood Still. Rickson’s production of Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler, starring Mary Louise Parker, opened on Broadway in 2009.
Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour was first staged on Broadway in 1934 where the play ran for over 2 years. The London premiere took place at the Gate Theatre in 1936. In 1994 Howard Davies directed a production for the National Theatre with a cast including Clare Higgins, Harriet Walter and Emily Watson. Hellman’s play was released as a film in 1961 under the title The Loudest Whisper starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley MacLaine and James Garner, directed by William Wyler. Playwright Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) also wrote The Little Foxes, Another Part of the Forest, Watch on the Rhine, Toys in the Attic and the book to Candide.