It’s Paris in the 1880’s and sparks fly when the young American artist Mary Cassatt meets the great French master Edgar Degas. The play highlights the relationship between the two. Few could tolerate the difficult and elitist Degas, but he met his match with the strong-willed American. Through her work with Degas, Mary Cassatt found success as an artist. Their 40-year stormy friendship produced paintings and prints that stunned the art world. Though there was no real evidence of a physical relationship, this play explores the possibility that they were much more than collaborators.


This is a bold new play about the great American impressionist Mary Cassatt and her stormy relationship with the demanding French artist Edgar Degas. Their short tumultuous time together resulted in the creation of a series of masterpieces that stunned the art world. These two strong-willed independent artists never backed down from a fight, nor failed to use their razor sharp wit to win an argument. The Independents is as humorous as it is educational. Fear not: you don’t need to know anything about art to enjoy the show. The great works of Cassatt and Degas will be prominently featured throughout the performance. The Independents will be an entertaining, enriching and enlightening experience for all who attend.

After visiting a Degas-Cassatt exhibit at the National Gallery in 2014, playwright Christopher Ward was inspired to explore that relationship. After a year doing extensive research, he finished the play The Independents. Though very few first-hand accounts exist, Ward brings their tumultuous connection to life with great accuracy, authenticity and humor. Their razor-sharp wit on display as neither one would back down from a good fight. The Independents will instruct as well as entertain, and brings to life two of the most iconic impressionist artists of all time.

The Independents was the name a group of Parisian artists—including Renoir, Cézanne, Monet, and Pissarro—preferred over the Impressionists. They were led by the aloof, acerbic Edgar Degas (André Herzegovitch), who, in the 1870’s invited the American expatriate Mary Cassatt (Natasa Babic) to join the group, in a show of rebellious alternatives to the more rigid formality imposed by the Académie des Beaux-Arts. Christopher Ward’s two-hander imagines the relationship between these brilliant, mostly mismatched spirits. Degas is a chauvinist in every sense of the word—of intellect, nationality, painterly skill, and gender—but Cassatt gives as good as she gets, and the performances do throw off some sparks

The first staged reading occurred in 2015, right here in the Powerhouse Theatre, by Town Players of New Canaan. The fully staged world premier was produced at Curtain Call in Stamford, CT in 2017. Then on to 2019, with an acclaimed multi-extended run just Off-Broadway at the Jerry Orbach Theater at The Theater Center at 50th and Broadway, NYC, with this same cast.


Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt stand today as two giants of the art world. A century after their deaths their work continues to sell. In fact, Degas' ballerina sculpture sold for 46 million dollars at an auction at Sotheby's in 2009. Cassatt's mother and child series are among the most revered paintings ever done by any American artist. Their work can be seen at museums and galleries all over the United States and Europe.

"'The Independents' casts a spell. In the guise of artistic inspiration, Ward has written the story of two people, and in the guise of quiet drama he has invoked the magic of artistic inspiration. It will make you crave an afternoon at the Metropolitan museum."

“Herzegovitch captures Degas’ mercurial temperament in an outstanding performance. You cannot keep your eyes off him, as you try to guess which Degas he will be next... Playful? Cold? Superior? Aesthetic? Truculent?”

“With her expressive eyes and natural elegance, Babic portrays Cassatt with a combination of innocence and forthrightness that captures the experience of a woman painting in a man’s world.”

“Andre Herzegovitch bears a striking resemblance to the young Degas. Natasa Babic looks somewhat like Mary Cassatt. Both actors have an unusually European vibe adding to believability. They seem to listen and formulate response. Withholding appears habitual rather than stiff. Ease in company pervades.”

“Costumes (Deborah Burke) are splendid. Every piece is attractive, correct, beautifully detailed, and fresh looking.”
Produced by: Lou Ursone

Production Team

Writer and Director: Christopher Ward
Production Designer: Peter Barbieri, Jr.
Stage Manager: John Zimmerman
Costumes: Deborah Burke
Costumes: Robin Mazzola
Props: Jordon Michael Hensley


Edgar Degas: Andre Herzegovitch
Mary Cassatt: Catherine Luciani
theater set of a living room

Your donations help support everything that we do!