Vivaldi (Howard Shangraw) is teaching the wife of a French nobleman (Susan Hegarty) in the court of King Louis XV to play the violin. Photo courtesy of Suzanne Avalon

Mieko Ouchi’s “The Red Priest (Eight Ways to Say Goodbye)” is “so beautiful a period piece with lush beautiful layers, it’s a stylizing of the 18th century,” said Director Howard Shangraw. “Today, authors are not writing these pieces for only two people. We’re doing it in the round with beautiful costumes — very 18th century.”


Isis Theatre Company returns for its 10th season and the American premiere of “The Red Priest” is its first production. It stars Shangraw and Susan Hegarty.

“It’s a lovely dance between two people which comes to a beautiful crescendo,” Shangraw added.

Written by Canadian playwright Ouchi, “The Red Priest (Eight Ways to Say Goodbye)” is set in the opulent court of Louis XV. “An aristocrat makes a bet with the King that his wife can learn to play the violin in six weeks. Famed composer and virtuoso Antonio Vivaldi is assigned the task of teaching her,” wrote Suzanne Avalon, Isis president and artistic director.

What follows is a sensuous and bittersweet dance of unconsummated love set in counterpoint to the music of Italy’s baroque master.”

The music of Vivaldi surrounds the work and Isis will have two Idyllwild Arts violinists — Ellena Minkova and Joana Chukleva — performing before the curtain rises and during intermission.

Shangraw was drawn to this play only after a friend had urged him to read Ouchi’s second play, “The Blue Light.” He said, “I thought ‘The Red Priest’ would be perfect for Isis.”

Performances are 7:30 p.m., Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Sept. 14 through 16 at The Caine Learning Center in Idyllwild. A 7 p.m. reception also precedes the curtain.

Tickets are $18 and may be purchased at the door or online at

A Dinner Theatre Package is an alternative for $45. It includes a three-course meal at the Gastrognome Restaurant and preferred seating.

More information can be found online or by calling (951) 692-9553.