Theatre Haunted by Architect? Actress Mara Purl Portrays Julia Morgan, Treading the Boards in Morgan’s Own Building, The Monday Club of San Luis Obispo

Mara Purl as Architect Julia Morgan

Julia Morgan was breaking glass ceilings as she built them.

If Julia Morgan breathed again the air of the Central Coast, she’d look, sound, and act a lot like well-known actress Mara Purl. “To be performing as Julia in a building she actually designed and built is an honor, a thrill, and a bit spooky,” the actress admitted. Does the architect haunt the building she built in 1934? “I do feel she haunts our stage. And toward the end of the play, my character indeed haunts a scene about a young woman planning to follow in her footsteps.”

Purl, who has performed in the Central Coast region several times before, adds, “This production is living history at its best. Our director Linda Wilson has paid scrupulous attention to historic detail in costume, set design, and in her own almost encyclopedic knowledge of Morgan’s career.”

The Monday Club, designed and built by Morgan in 1933 and 1934, and beautifully preserved by devoted club members, is one of two buildings in SLO County created by the famous architect—the other being the Hearst Castle, known all over the world as one of the most magnificent estates ever built.                

“If we think history is irrelevant, nothing could be further from the truth,” the performer continued. “Julia Morgan was breaking glass ceilings even as she built them. She was such a key trail blazer that, frankly, female architects, and women in general would not be where we are today were it not for pioneers like her. She gave up having a personal life and devoted herself to her work. For her, ‘having it all’ meant designing, building, and also mentoring others with every fiber of her being.”

A lot…

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