Productions

Community,Faculty,Productions

Love in The Arena by “Big Love” Director Robert Scott Smith

6 Nov , 2018  

LOVE IN THE ARENA

My first adventure with Big Love started with a trip to the emergency room, because someone accidentally scratched my cornea during callbacks. Maybe the director just took pity on me after the accident and wanted to make a peace offering, but I was cast in the role of Nikos. And now, fourteen years later, I have the privilege of revisiting this wonderfully wild and fiercely relevant work. I thought I had a good sense of the production and the story I wanted to tell, but that was before I started looking more closely through the magnifying glass of the #MeToo Movement.

The story I wanted to tell evolved. One line kept reverberating in my mind, one spoken passionately by Thyona: “there can be no love because there can be no love that is not freely offered and it cannot be free unless every person has equal standing.” What would happen to the power dynamic if women actually had equal standing? And if women do not have equal standing, can we ever have justice?

I jumped at Chuck Mee’s invitation to “pillage the plays as I have pillaged the structures and contents of the plays of Euripides and Brecht and stuff out of ‘Soap Opera Digest’ and the evening news and the internet.” I updated references to bring us to 2018, added text from other works by Chuck, and changed almost all the music he suggested—which had been exclusively male—and found music composed, written or performed by women. This production is an equal collaboration amongst the actors, designers, and stage management team, and I couldn’t have fulfilled my vision without their incredible work.

So, welcome to our boxing ring. Chuck Mee says: “I like plays that are not too neat, too finished, too presentable. My plays are broken, jagged, filled with sharp edges, filled with things that make sudden turns, careen into each other, smash up, veer off in sickening turns, that feels good to me. It feels like my life. It feels like the world.” We hope you feel the same!

—Robert Scott Smith, Director


We will have a post-performance discussion immediately following the 7:30 p.m. performance on November 16, to talk about the impact the #MeToo movement has had on Big Love. 

Big Love | November 9-18 | Babcock Theatre
Tickets available at tickets.utah.edu

 

Community,Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

BIG LOVE more timely than ever Nov 9-18 in the Babcock Theatre

31 Oct , 2018  

The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre ends the fall season with Charles L. Mee’s Big Love, an elaborate, updated retelling of one of the oldest plays in Western history, The Danaids by Aeschylus. Directed by Robert Scott Smith, the production runs Nov. 9-18 in the Babcock Theatre in the lower level of the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 South and University Street.

Big Love, which has nothing to do with polygamy or the late cable TV series, tells the story of 50 brides who flee their 50 grooms and seek refuge in an Italian villa. Mayhem ensues, complete with grooms in flight suits, women throwing themselves to the ground, occasional pop songs, romantic dances, and even a bride falling in love.

Written originally for the Humana Festival, Louisville, in 2000, this play is topically relevant by tackling the issue of sexual misconduct that prompted the #MeToo movement, and challenging the many misconceptions of gender and sexuality that still exist today. In a 2003 interview with Open Stages newsletter, Mee explained, “…it’s all about refugees and gender wars and men and women trying to find what will get them through the rubble of dysfunctional relationships, and anger and rage and heartache.”

Big Love is timely, important, and a spectacular theatre piece the audience won’t forget.


Tickets
General $18
UofU Fac/Staff $15
Seniors (60+)/Military $15
Free for UofU students with valid student ID, must show Ucard in person to request a ticket
Student $8.50


Productions,Spotlight,Students

Gynocentric “Julius Caesar” Oct 26-Nov 4

17 Oct , 2018  

The U’s Department of Theatre presents William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, set in a futuristic Rome run by women. Guest directed by David Carey, the production runs Oct. 26-Nov. 4 in Studio 115. 

The vision for this futuristic, women-ruled production of Julius Caesar comes from guest director, David Carey. Carey is a UK National Teaching Award-winning Fellow who has worked as a Voice and, Text Director on over 30 productions at the renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and who has taught at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. He made the decision to cast 13 women and 5 men in what he calls a “gender-flipped version of Shakespeare’s play.” The casting led to the development of a conceptual Rome set in 2118, where Caesar has declared herself “Mother of the Motherland.”

“The increasing domino-effect of climate change across the world led to the complete disruption of advanced technology and the collapse of the social order by 2048,” Carey says about this production’s time and setting. “Seventy years later, women have established themselves as the dominant power in the post-technological world following the failure of male leadership, while men have become the ‘weaker sex.’”

This 400-year-old political drama, based on true events from Roman history deals with political topics that are timely and, significant to audiences today. Carey explains, “The play deals with the consequences of authoritarianism and idealism in the political sphere. At a time when populism, authoritarianism, and the idealisms of left and right are threatening the basic tenets of democracy, it feels right to be mounting a production of Julius Caesar.

A post-performance discussion about power and dominance of women on the theatre stage will be held on Friday, November 2, immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre and of Gender Studies, Lynn Deboeck will be leading the discussion with production dramaturg, Alia Richards where audiences are invited to engage in the conversation.

Photo by Todd Collins. Left to right: Mary-Helen Pitman as Mark Antony, Lindsie Kongsore as Marcus Brutus, Selah McKenna as Julius Caesar, and Isabela Crews as Caius Cassius.

Julius Caesar at a glance:

Dates and Times: Previews Oct. 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. The show runs Oct. 26-28 and Nov. 1-4 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on Nov. 3 and 4 at 2:00 p.m.

Post-Performance Discussions: Nov. 2 immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance.

Location: Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East. Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the theatre, at Rice-Eccles Stadium or on Presidents Circle.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at tickets.utah.edu/events/julius-caesar/ or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.

Community,Productions,Spotlight

From The Director’s Desk: The Joys of a High-Stakes Match Well Played

5 Sep , 2018  

Championship chess is a thrilling world, filled with larger than life personalities, intrigues, and fast paced action. Who knew that watching hyper-intelligent people think could be so interesting? Mix chess with the dynamics of take-no-prisoners international diplomacy, crossed with complicated interpersonal entanglements, and you have the basis of a compelling story. The story of these various attempts at manipulation come together compellingly in Tim Rice, Benny Anderson, and Bjorn Ulvaeus’s musical Chess.

Why this play? This play has been tried in different forms between the West End and Broadway. It has been pretty commonly understood in the industry that neither form worked perfectly. Tim Rice, whose idea this play was, invites a director to continue the work of shaping the telling of this story, its character development, and the interplay of those different worlds. That alone was a compelling reason to work on this material.  ABBA’s score is well known and well loved, and Tim Rice’s lyrics give fuel to the world. It was an exciting prospect for me to dissect this wonderful story, script, and score, and to reimagine the intersections of the characters in order to make their journey touch us across the footlights.

Why now? Current Russian–American sparring cannot help but remind us of the deadly diplomatic tensions of the Cold War. How do we relate to each other as nations and as individuals? How do we know what the other side really wants, really means? How we really function productively?

We in the Chess company have a tremendous respect and admiration for the amazing minds that compete in chess at the championship level. We’ve come to understand the dominance of Russia in the game and the support they have given their most skilled players. The obsession and focus required to participate at this level attracts minds that just don’t turn off. Unfortunately, minds that ignore other aspects of life are easily mis-used. We hope that you will love these characters and their story in this rarified world as much as we have loved creating it all for you.

The collaborative nature of theatre requires that artistry and co-operation from many specialists come together. Our team has been especially brilliant. We have an amazingly talented cast. Musical Director Alex Marshall’s orchestration underscores the drama with passion. Halee Rasmussen’s tilted, raked chess board is a constant tweak to the predicatable. Cole Adams’s inspired lighting keeps us on edge and guessing at what will happen next. Adam Day masterfully brings the voices front while still letting us feel the band in the room. Brenda Van der Wiel created our edgy, surprising costumes. Amanda French wig’s and make-up have added to the off kilter nature of the characters. Amber Lewandowski and her skilled stage management team have kept us focused and on schedule. The Musical Theatre Ensemble supports and broadens the score allowing us to expand the sound.

We have been so blessed with a team that has bonded, and who serve the show with definitive focus and unique sensitivity and talent.

We hope you enjoy the show!

–Denny Berry
Director and Choreographer of Chess The Musical

Musical Theatre Program Head

Community,Productions

Introducing the 2018-19 Season

6 Jul , 2018  

We are excited to open our season by returning for the fourth year to the Hayes Christensen Theatre at the Marriott Center for Dance for Chess The Musical, a politically-driven, Cold-War–era musical about a chess tournament where players, lovers, politicians, and spies collide through manipulation. Then, David Carey from Oregon Shakespeare Festival joins us in October to direct Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. November brings Charles L. Mee’s Big Love, an elaborate, updated retelling of one of the oldest plays in Western history, The Danaids by Aeschylus.

In the spring, we present Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s musical comedy Company, directed by Ryan Emmons, followed by the true(ish) history of an 1869 expedition, Men On Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus in March. We close with Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s first play, The Rivals, a comedy of manners set in 18th-century Bath, England.

We strive to maximize the access, interest, and impact of theatre for our diverse audiences. Our productions will ignite exciting dialogue through talkbacks, panels discussions, and other artist-interface opportunities.


Music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus
Lyrics by Tim Rice
Based on an idea by Tim Rice
Directed and Choreographed by Denny Berry
September 14-23, 2018
The Hayes Christensen Theatre at the Marriott Center for Dance

By William Shakespeare
Directed by David Carey
October 26-November 4, 2018
Studio 115

By Charles L. Mee
Directed by Robert Scott Smith
November 9-18, 2018
Babcock Theatre

Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth
Originally Produced and Directed on Broadway by Harold Prince
Orchestration by Jonathan Tunick
Directed by Ryan Emmons
February 15- March 3, 2019
Babcock Theatre

By Jaclyn Backhaus
Directed by Sarah Shippobotham
March 1-10, 2019
Studio 115

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Directed by Alexandra Harbold
April 5-14, 2019
Babcock Theatre

Tickets are now available at tickets.utah.edu

Alumni,Faculty,Productions,Students

New Plays Workshop Readings April 23-25

18 Apr , 2018  

 

The New Plays Workshop class taught by Professors Tim Slover and Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell invites you to three nights of free staged readings of new and bold plays.

The plays written and performed by members of the Department of Theatre community will run April 23-25, at 6:00 p.m in PAB 115. Admission to the play readings is free and post-performance discussions will happen each night following the play readings. Light refreshments with be served.

Shooter by Mark Macey (Theatre Studies) April 23

The Value by Nicholas Dunn (Adjunct Faculty, ATP alumnus) April 24

Mapplethorpe by Mary Stringham (Art History Major & Theatre Minor) April 25

*Plays contain adult language and themes


About New Plays Workshop class:

As a class, the plays are developed through discussion and exploratory workshops over the course of the semester. The development process culminates with student-run staged readings where members may serve variously as actors, directors, dramaturgs, stage managers or producers depending upon area of interest and the requirements of each play.


PERFORMING ARTS BUILDING PARKING: Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the Performing Arts Building, in the Marriott Library lot. Monday-Friday payment for parking is now required until 10:00 p.m. Please make sure to pay at the kiosks in the parking lot. The closest parking kiosk to Performing Arts Building is located outside the University of Utah Credit Union.

Productions,Spotlight,Students

“And Here We Are…” Senior MTP Showcase

5 Apr , 2018  

“And Here We Are…”

A story of our years in the MTP

 

The Musical Theatre graduating class presents “And Here We Are…”  The showcase is both a reflection and capstone for our graduating seniors of the Musical Theatre Program and will feature their wide-ranging and phenomenal talents.

The seniors have created a show that shares the story of their lives over the past four years–including the hard work, friendships, and lots and lots of dancing! Come and see the Class of 2018 in their very last University show!

The production runsApril 20-22 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee on April 22 at 2:00 p.m. in Studio 115. FREE tickets with RSVP at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/and-here-we-are-tickets-44810717061


Musical numbers in And Here We Are… include:

“If You Knew My Story” – Bright Star

“For Forever” – Dear Evan Hansen (Part 1)

“Someone in the Crowd” – La La Land

“Soft Place to Land” – Waitress

“Everything I Know” – In The Heights

“Cell Block Tango” – Chicago

“I Don’t Need a Roof” – Big Fish

“And Here We Are…” by Lloyd Livengood, Zach Marquez, Makayla Cussen, and Bailey Cummings

Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

We close the 2017-18 season with “Our Country’s Good”

29 Mar , 2018  

We close the 2017-18 season with Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, based on the novel “The Playmaker” by Thomas Keneally, April 6-15 in the Babcock Theatre. Directed by Actor Training Program Professor Sarah Shippobotham, this play-within-a-play is a story in which justice, power and the possibility of redemption come under scrutiny.

In Jan. 1788, the first of the British prison ships arrived at Botany Bay, Australia and settled the penal colony at Port Jackson, the site of current-day Sydney. Many of the prisoners had committed minor crimes and their wardens were military men who fought and lost the war against the American colonies. When hope and supplies run low, a lieutenant tries to increase morale by staging a comedy, The Recruiting Office” by George Farquhar, using the convicts as the cast.

The creative set of this modern classic designed by Department of Theatre’s technical director and associate professor Kyle Becker, aims to put the themes of this inspiring play at the fore. Performed by a cast of highly talented actors from the Actor Training Program and Musical Theatre Program, this production is set to be an innovative portrayal of the struggle for justice, power and humanity.

Stay after the show for a conversation with the cast and creative team about the production following the Friday, April 13 performance.

Our Country’s Good at a glance:

Dates and Times: April 6-8 and 12-15 at 7:30 p.m. with matinees on April 14 and 15 at 2 p.m.

Post-Performance Discussion: April 13.

Location: The Babcock Theatre, located at 300 S. and University Street (1400 East) in the Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre, lower level. Free parking is available to the south of the theatre and at Rice Eccles Stadium.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at tickets.utah.edu or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall. 

Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

Follow your dreams with “Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)”

6 Mar , 2018  

The Department of Theatre is thrilled to present the dramatic comedy written by Bridget Carpenter Up (The Man in the Flying Chair), a story that captures the essential truth about the lure of the impossible dream, its freedom, and its danger. Directed by Head of the Actor Training Program Chris DuVal, the production runs March 9-17 in Studio 115.

Up (The Man in the Flying Chair) is based on the real-life escapade of truck driver Larry Walters who attached 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and found himself 16,000 feet above the world, 20 years ago. He rose up from his backyard in San Pedro, California, was seen by commercial airliners, and drifted into controlled air space near Long Beach airport. Today he’s furiously holding onto his dreams and the faded memory of that glorious day, doing everything he can to keep his feet from touching the ground.

This is a story about breathtaking tension between hope and despair, “I love how we get to see inside Walter’s mind as he’s chasing a dream of who he is,” DuVal says. He creates an environment that doesn’t sacrifice the communal nature of making theatre—the inherent love of art making. “Theatre must always retain its joyful attitude,” he explains.

This production shows what it is to pursue one’s dream. To go on a hero’s journey where the destination is unknown, and the path uncertain, but that it is a calling of something that must be undertaken. “It’s a story that is needed now more than ever.”

“A brilliant play…original, poignant, moving, sad and funny. I have rarely sat in a theater audience that laughed so hard at one moment and, at the next, sat so still you’d swear you could hear the actors’ hearts beating together on stage.” – Eugene Register-Guard

 

 


“Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)” at a glance:
Dates and Times: March 9-11 and 15-17 at 7:30PM  with a matinee on March 17 at 2PM
Post-Performance Discussions: March 16
Location: Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East. Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the theatre, at Rice-Eccles Stadium or on Presidents Circle.
Tickets: General admission tickets are $18, U faculty and staff are $15, U students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.
Age Recommendations: Ages 14+

Faculty,Productions,Students

U.S. Premiere of “The Beautiful Game” at the Babcock Theatre

7 Feb , 2018  

 

We return to the Babcock Theatre with the U.S. premiere of The Beautiful Game with Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lyrics and Book by Ben Elton. This politically and religiously charged romantic musical tells the story of ordinary people in extraordinary times. Choreographed by Musical Theatre graduate Jesse Klick and directed by Musical Theatre Program Head Denny Berry, the production runs February 16-March 4 at the Babcock Theatre.

Set amid The Troubles in Northern Ireland, this late 1960s coming-of-age musical is about a group of young men and women who are involved with a local soccer team at the start of a 30-year civil war. The amateur Catholic soccer team finds themselves torn between becoming professionals and fighting for their country. Some are drawn into the conflict, while others stand aside wanting only to be allowed to live and love in peace. It speaks of love, the things that keep us human, and the reality of dashed dreams.

Writer Ben Elton tells the story with humor and compassion, with lyrics that are both funny and heartbreaking. In the program note from the original 2000 production he wrote, “Although this is an Irish story, taking place in Belfast—a brave big-hearted city that I know well, having performed there many times—I hope that the themes and sentiments of The Beautiful Game are universal.”

The significance of this production in today’s society will be discussed through a panel discussion lead by Theatre Instructor and Production Dramaturg, Mark Fossen on February 23, immediately after the evening production.

 


From the Dramaturg:

“We’re at war, Mary. We’ve been at war for eight hundred years.”

By Mark Fossen, Dramaturg

The Beautiful Game looks at the early years of “The Troubles.” But the complicated history of Ireland dates at least as far back as the 1171 the invasion of Ireland by the English King Henry II—the beginning of centuries of English rule over the island.

The political and territorial conflict between the native Irish and the colonizing English took on a religious aspect in 1534 when King Henry VIII broke from the Roman Catholic Church and founded the Church of England. The Irish were staunchly Roman Catholic and loyal to the Pope, and the religious division multiplied their grievances against the English. King James I took the English throne after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, unifying the crowns of Scotland, Ireland, and England. He began a project to settle the Plantation of Ulster in what is now Northern Ireland with Protestant English and Scottish settlers in order to suppress a hotbed of rebellion on the island.

In 1688, the Catholic King James II was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution and fled to Ireland to find support amongst the Catholic populace, only to be defeated by the Protestant William of Orange, who is celebrated by the Protestant Unionist faction to this day. William ascended the English throne in 1689, and established the Protestant Ascendency—a series of repressive laws designed to strip the native populace of political and economic power, enabling the Protestant minority to hold political and economic power over the Catholic majority.

By the dawn of the 20th Century, the political movement towards Irish self-governance reached a climax in the 1916 Easter Rebellion and the War for Independence, which established the Republic of Ireland as an independent nation. However, the counties of Ulster remained part of the Union as a separate Northern Ireland.

The late 1960s saw the beginning of a 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland between the paramilitary Irish Republican Army and the Unionist forces, supported by the British Army.

The Beautiful Game begins near the start of The Troubles—specifically, the weekend of August 12-14, 1969, as violence broke out in Derry in “The Battle of the Bogside.” A Protestant march celebrating a 1689 victory by William of Orange’s forces passed near the Catholic area of Bogside, sparking three days of deadly violence between Catholic and Protestant forces.

The Troubles would consume Northern Ireland for three decades, overflowing at times to England and even mainland Europe. In the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, the Republic of Ireland recognized Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. But both countries agreed that Northern Ireland could join the Republic, should a majority in both vote for the change.

For more information about The Beautiful Game and “The Troubles,” please visit our

dramaturgical website at http://beautifulgame2018.wordpress.com

Alumni,Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

‘Eclipsed’ To Be Performed at Regional Festival

23 Jan , 2018  

University of Utah Theatre Department’s Eclipsed Will Be Performed at Regional Festival The University of Utah Theater Department’s production of Eclipsed from last season was chosen by the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival to perform at Festivention from February 14 to 17 at Mesa Community College, Arizona. This is one of only six productions that has been chosen to perform from our region, comprised of schools from Utah, Southern Nevada, Southern California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam.

Eclipsed is a powerful production based on real life stories of the women and girls who helped bring peace to the African nation of Liberia during its second civil war. It became the first play with an all-black and female cast and creative team to premiere on Broadway in 2015. The U of U’s production followed this example by casting an all-black cast and hiring Stephanie Weeks, New York resident, as artistic director. Of their performance, Utah Theater Blogger stated, “The five women on stage of this production took on material that has the ability to bring empathy, understanding, and advocacy that is desperately needed.”

U of U Theatre professor Bob Nelson currently serves on the board of KCACTF, and has been serving there for 10 years. In fact, this year he was honored with a Gold Medallion for his years of dedicated service with the organization. Nelson said this year there were over 70 eligible applicants, and the U was one of 6 selected.

Some of KCACTF’s goals are “to encourage, recognize, and celebrate the finest and most diverse work produced in university and college theater programs, to provide opportunities for participants to develop their theater skills and insight . . . [and] to encourage colleges and universities to give distinguished productions of new plays.” Professor Nelson said of the festival, “I particularly appreciate working with KCACTF because this organization, more than many, focuses on the students’ experience. It gives students an excellent opportunity to interact and work with other individuals and institutions at the festival.”

Participating in the festival is no small undertaking. The entire company will be returning for their three performances at the festival, including recently graduated students. The company will also transport their entire set and costumes to the venue. While at the festival, they will get the opportunity to participate in workshops and seminars on such topics as dramaturgy, theatre criticism, playwriting, auditioning, voice, movement, stage combat, theater for children, scene painting, and scenery construction.

Speaking of Eclipsed, Artistic Director Stephanie Weeks was quoted in the Daily Utah Chronicle saying as, “Often when we talk of prisoners of war we talk about the soldiers who have been captured, tortured, and killed. Rarely do we talk about the women and children who are also in the trenches and are, in fact, prisoners of war themselves . . . trapped by their circumstances. So how and why do we imprison the women who gave us life and nurtured us?” Audiences who attended this production last year were deeply moved, and the University of Utah is proud to be able to send our talented cast and production team to this festival to share this important story.

By Adam Griffiths, CFA

 

 

Alumni,Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

‘Eclipsed’ selected to attend KCACTF Region 8 Festival

20 Dec , 2017  

Eclipsed written by Danai Gurira, directed by Stephanie Weeks, produced by our Department in March of 2017, has been invited to attend Festival 50 in Mesa, Arizona at Mesa Community College February 13-17, 2018.

Eclipsed is one of six productions chosen to attend the KCACTF Region 8 festival in 2018. Other productions chosen include Where Words Once Were by Finegan Kruckemeyer, directed by Tracy Callahan, Weber State University (Utah); The Government Inspector by Nikolai Gogo, adapted by Theatre Movement Bazaar and directed by Tina Kronis, Los Angeles City College (California); Man of La Mancha by Mitch Leigh, Joe Darion and Dale Wasserman, directed by bree valle, Cuesta College (California); Story Theatre by Paul Sills, directed by Kevin Dressler, Mesa Community College (Arizona); and Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, directed by Linda Bisessti, California Polytechnic University, Pomona (California).

Eclipsed tells the story of five extraordinary women brought together by the upheaval of war in their homeland of Liberia. “A driving force behind the resolution of the conflict were the women of Liberia who came together because they were tired and angry at what war was doing to their country,” said director Weeks. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, Eclipsed reveals the courage and strength of the women who are often overlooked in a world where war endures, and women are still fighting to survive.

The brilliant all-black female cast traveling to Arizona includes Madelaine Lamah as Maima, Terryn Shigg as Bessie, Darby Mest as The Girl, ATP alumna McKenna Jensen as Helena, and local artist Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin as Rita. Other members from the original University of Utah production will also be traveling to the festival including scenic designer Megan Branson, lighting designer Michele Collins, costume designer Kerstin Davis, sound designer Shea Madson, stage manager Tahra Veasley, properties designer Lesli Spencer, dramaturg Catherine Heiner, and director Stephanie Weeks.

Congratulations to everyone involved with the University of Utah’s production of Eclipsed.

Productions,Students

Wonderland by ATP alumnus, Matt Morgan

30 Oct , 2017  

ATP alumnus, Matthew Morgan brings WONDERLAND to SLC presented by his company The Petite Palace & the Utah Arts Alliance, November 3-12. WONDERLAND is a high energy, madcap circus celebration of humanity! Leave your cares at the door as you enter a joyous world of entertainment presented by your hosts, the ridiculous husband and wife duo Matt and Heidi Morgan. Acrobats, aerialists, speed jugglers and quite possibly YOU promise to thrill and amaze while the comedy may literally be in your lap in this beautiful and intimate 150 seat tent. Come sit shoulder to shoulder with your neighbors and enjoy circus like you’ve never experienced before!

This is different … unexpectedly moving and beautiful–Democrat & Chronicle

More info

Advanced tickets

The Petite Palace is also presenting 2 performances of PRINCESS WENDY’S LATE NITE TEASE ROOM, November 10 and 11 at 9:30pm. Princess Wendy’s Late-Night Tease Room, a delightfully raucous evening of comedy, burlesque, and sexy circus. Hosted by the sassy, wine drinking children’s birthday party princess, Princess Wendy, and featuring a menagerie of hot and hilarious talent. The Petite Palace is a new and exciting 150 seat traveling performance venue where communities can come and sit shoulder to shoulder, share a laugh and a gasp while experiencing a night of world class entertainment. It’s the perfect venue for a family outing, a night out with friends or a date night with that special someone.

Glorious–Rochester City Newspaper

More information on this 18 + event
Advanced tickets

www.thepetitepalace.com


Productions,Spotlight

Playful, Poetic, Language-obsessed “Love’s Labour’s Lost”

10 Oct , 2017  

Terri McMahon from Oregon Shakespeare Festival joined us this fall to direct Shakespeare’s sophisticated early comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost, showing in Studio 115 October 20-29.

Terri has been an artist at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for over 25 years acting in nearly 50 productions playing over 75 roles from Shakespeare, Moliere and Ibsen to new works by Robert Schenkkan and Lynn Nottage. She has directed as well as adapted OSF School Visit Program touring performances; devised an OSF Green Show called Give It Up for Elizabethan-ness; directed OSF staged readings and has both acted and directed multiple times in OSF’s The Black Swan Lab for new play development. She wrote and directed Sweetly Writ, a collaboration between OSF and the University of Oregon which played at the Hult Center in Eugene celebrating the University’s Shakespeare First Folio Exhibition.

In addition to her classical work, Terri is sought after for developing new plays, both as director and actress, and has collaborated with numerous award-winning contemporary playwrights. Her extensive teaching career spans from third-grade arts education students to professionals working on high-performance communication. During her time at the U, she was been working closely with the cast members of Love’s Labour’s Lost to perform Shakespeare as authentically as possible. “We looked at Shakespeare language support books that define every word in every play, sonnet, and narrative poem that he wrote,” Terri said, “After you have performed Shakespeare, almost any other playwright can seem so much easier because of the workout your brain, your vocal apparatus and your ability to sustain long difficult thoughts has offered you with Shakespeare.”

Through witty and playful banter, Love’s Labour’s Lost tells the story of the King of Navarre and his three court followers, who swear they will speak to no women during their three-year “academy” study period. But the instant they take that vow, the Princess of France arrives with her three captivating female attendants, and all bets are off.

Guest Director Terri McMahon says, “Love’s Labour’s Lost has more sexual innuendo, more puns (just under 200), and more triple layers of philosophical meanings on top of the puns’ double meanings, that Shakespeare manages to out-funny bone any YouTube trender.” Terri says that Shakespeare humor “has endured because when an actor understands the joke inherent in the language and their need for their character to say it, the same kind of builds, pauses, and punch line deliveries span the centuries. Watch Jim Gaffigan. You’ll see a Shakespeare standup clown.”

Buy tickets for Love’s Labour’s Lost

By Adam Griffiths, CFA Grad Assistant
and Josiane Dubois

Productions,Spotlight

“Life is a party, Why don’t you come to the Steel Pier?”

6 Sep , 2017  

The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre opens the 2017-18 season in full swing with Steel Pier, a crowd-pleasing musical that will have audiences toe-tapping from their seats. Directed and Choreographed by Musical Theatre Head Denny Berry, the production runs Sept.15-24 at the Marriott Center for Dance, 330 S. 1500 E. Onstage seating for Steel Pier will be available first come, first served, with general admission ticket. 

Set on the famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City, this energetic musical brings together an assortment of relentless souls, eager to dance their way into fame and prizes. Bill Kelly, an adventurous pilot, falls out of the sky and into the arms of Rita Racine, a dancer and the wife of evil Steel Pier manager Mick Hamilton. Entertainment and plenty of razzle-dazzle dancing ensue when Rita and Bill pair up for the marathon competition. Created by John Kander and Fred Ebb who wrote the music and lyrics to Chicago, Cabaret, and other Broadway classics, Steel Pier perfectly captures the vivacious rhythms of the 1930s-dance era. 

Dancing competitions have made a big comeback, thanks to shows like ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ Department of Theatre Chair and Set Designer for this production Gage Williams, has designed a set that allows several audience members to sit onstage during the entire performance to experience the phenomenal music and infectious singing up-close. 

“Life is a party, why don’t you come to the Steel Pier?”

“Steel Pier” at a Glance

Dates and Times: Sept. 15-17 and 21-23 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinees Sept. 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 2:00 p.m.

Location: Marriott Center for Dance at the University of Utah is located at 330 South 1500 East. Free parking is available to the south of the theatre and at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Tickets: General Admission tickets are $18, University of Utah faculty and staff are $15, University of Utah students are free with UCard and all other students with valid student ID are $8.50. Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at tickets.utah.edu or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall. 

Content warning: Recommended for patron ages 14 and up. Mature audiences only.

by Josiane Dubois

Productions,Spotlight

2017-18 Season Brochure

31 Jul , 2017  

The Department of Theatre’s 2017-18 Season Brochure is now available.

This year’s brochure includes our productions, professional affiliates, partnering productions, and a section spotlighting featured students. Pick up a copy in the Department of Theatre’s main office PAB 206 or view online now.

Faculty,Productions,Spotlight,Students

How long can you stand on the train tracks: a game for two sisters

7 Jul , 2017  

Sackerson and Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory present a new collaboration:

How long can you stand on the train tracks: a game for two sisters

In the basement of the Pioneer Memorial Building on the University of Utah Campus sits the Babcock Theatre. Sackerson and Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory will premiere a new play by resident playwright Morag Shepherd. A wild painting of two sisters facing trains barreling down the tracks, this play runs July 7, 8 , 9, 13, 14, 15, 16 @ 7:30 PM.

Tickets are $18-25 at https://sackerson.org/

A game. A train. An echo of death.
A game for two sisters. Two sisters: Charlie and Pepper—both in love with Grayson. Their father is a digger, a stranger. Their mother has kaleidoscopes for eyes.
A train and a question. It’s coming nearer, nearer; it’s almost here, it’s almost here — it was never here. Was it ever here?
An echo of love. Love that tastes like the ocean, and steel, and glass in your eyes.

 

 


About Morag Shepherd (playwright)
Playwright Morag Shepherd, originally from Scotland, is the resident playwright at Sackerson in Salt Lake City, where her plays BURN, THE WORST THING I’VE EVER DONE (performed in a box by one actor for an audience of one at a time), BEFORE THE BEEP (performed in weekly installments via voicemail) and POPPY’S IN THE SAND have premiered, the latter also playing Great Salt Lake Fringe and San Diego International Fringe Festivals.

About FLYING BOBCAT THEATRICAL LABORATORY (Salt Lake City, UT)
Flying Bobcat is a theatrical laboratory dedicated to exploring the possibilities of storytelling in performance through language, movement, technology, and design. Recent collaborations include; In March 2016 the World Premiere of Climbing With Tigers, adapted for the stage by Troy Deutsch, based on the book by Nathan Glad and Dallas Graham Produced by Salt Lake Acting Company in collaboration with Flying Bobcat and Red Fred Project. Climbing was a new devised work involving animation and live action and was featured in American Theatre Magazine May 2016.

About SACKERSON (Salt Lake City, UT)
Sackerson is a nonprofit, Salt Lake City-based theatre company with a focus on new works, unconventional venues, and bold audiences. Recent works include the immersive dance theatre experience SONDER, yoga-studio-based BURN, and the mobile theatre box for one patron at a time production of THE WORST THING I’VE EVER DONE.

Productions

Announcing Our 2017 –18 Season

25 Apr , 2017  

 

The U of U Department of Theatre is excited to open our season with a return to the Hayes Christensen Theatre for Kander and Ebb’s Steel Pier, a musical set in Atlantic City that perfectly captures the rhythms of the 1930s. Then, Terri McMahon from Oregon Shakespeare Festival joins us in October to direct Shakespeare’s sophisticated early comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost. November brings us George Bernard Shaw’s comedy of confused identities, You Never Can Tell.

In the spring, we present Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton’s soccer musical The Beautiful Game, followed by Up (The Man in the Flying Chair) by Bridget Carpenter in March. We close with Timberlake Wertenbaker’s Our Country’s Good, a drama based on real events in 1780s New South Wales when marines and convicts mounted a production of The Recruiting Officer.

Compromised of six fantastic productions, the complete 2017-18 season is as follows:

 
Steel Pier
Music by John Kander | Lyrics by Fred Ebb| Book by David Thompson
Directed by Denny Berry
September 15-24, 2017
The Hayes Christensen Theatre (MCD)
In the honky-tonk world of marathon dancing in Atlantic City in 1933, a captivating assortment of depression era souls eager to dance their way into fame and prizes gather on the Steel Pier. The spectacle is presided over by an oily tongued emcee who is secretly married to Rita Racine, the champion dancer. Her usual partner doesn’t show up, so she is paired with a handsome pilot on leave. As the hours of dancing whirl on, Rita becomes increasingly disillusioned with her sleazy, conniving husband and more and more infatuated with the handsome young aviator and a vision of life in a peaceful cottage.

Love’s Labour’s Lost
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Terri McMahon
October 20-29, 2017
Studio 115
The King of Navarre and his three schoolmates vow to embrace their studies—and not embrace girls—for three whole years. But the instant they take that vow, the Princess of France arrives with her three beautiful attendants, and all bets are off.

You Never Can Tell
By George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Alexandra Harbold
November 10-19, 2017
Babcock Theatre
At one riotous lunch, Mrs. Clandon, a famed feminist author and lecturer, is accidentally reunited with her estranged husband, while her high-minded eldest daughter tries to stave off a smooth-talking dentist’s advances. Identities are confused, ideals are challenged, and mischief is afoot in this turn-of-the-century romantic farce. What could possibly happen? As a wise waiter continuously, and hilariously observes, “You never can tell!”

The Beautiful Game
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber| Lyrics and Book by Ben Elton
Directed by Denny Berry
February 16- March 4, 2018
Babcock Theatre
Under the watchful eye of team coach Father O’Donnel, John and Del both show enough promise to pursue careers as professional soccer players. They’re just two regular teenagers who dream of nothing more than girls and soccer. When they find love with their girlfriends Mary and Christine, they become swept up in the events that engulf their community and, as time passes, each must decide whether to follow their hearts. This powerful and passionate musical is a celebration of the freedom that love can bring.

Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)
By Bridget Carpenter
Directed by Chris DuVal
March 9-17, 2018
Studio 115
“Follow your dreams as high as they go”
20 years ago, Walter Griffin attached 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and found himself 16,000 feet above the world. Today he’s furiously holding onto his dreams and the faded memory of that glorious day, doing everything he can to keep his feet from touching the ground.

Our Country’s Good
By Timberlake Wertenbaker
Based on the novel The Playmaker by Thomas Keneally
Directed by Sarah Shippobotham
April 6-15, 2018
Babcock Theatre
In January 1788, the first of the British prison ships arrive at Botany Bay, Australia and settle the penal colony at Port Jackson, the site of current-day Sydney. Many of the prisoners have committed minor crimes and their wardens are military men who fought and lost the war against the American colonies. When hope and supplies run low, a lieutenant tries to increase morale by staging a comedy, The Recruiting Officer by George Farquhar, using the convicts as the cast.

Tickets and season flexpasses will go on sale on July 1, at tickets.utah.edu.
To receive a season brochure and join our mailing list, please send an email with your information to josi.dubois@utah.edu.

Productions

Shakespeare Translation Discussion with Dr. Lou Douthit

30 Mar , 2017  

 

Dr. Lue Douthit

Dr. Lue Morgan Douthit, Director of Play on! 36 playwrights translate Shakespeare, will be speaking at the post-show discussion after the opening performance of The Two Noble Kinsmen on April 7, at the Babcock Theatre. The post-show discussion will include the highly debated topic of translating Shakespeare and the impact that Play on! is achieving through making Shakespeare more accessible and inclusive.

Other members of the post-show discussion will include The Two Noble Kinsmen Director, Randy Reyes and Assistant Director for Play on!, Taylor Bailey. Reyes is an alumni of the University of Utah Actor Training Program who received a College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016 and graduated from The Juilliard School Drama Division in 1999. He is currently Mu Performing Art’s Artistic Director.

The Two Noble Kinsmen is one of 39 plays to be translated into modern English for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Play on! project. This play was translated by Professor Tim Slover with production dramaturgy from Alex Vermillion and Play on! project dramaturgy from Assistant Professor Martine Kei Green-Rogers. The production is directed by College of Fine Arts Distinguished Alum Randy Reyes, with Artistic Director Bill Rauch and Executive Director Cynthia Rider.


The Two Noble Kinsmen
April 7-9, and 13-15 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinee April 15 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets can be obtained by calling 801-581-7100, online at tickets.utah.edu or at the Performing Arts Box Office, located at Kingsbury Hall.

Additional service fees may apply.

 

Productions

From The Director’s Desk: Randy Reyes, The Two Noble Kinsmen

30 Mar , 2017  

Shakespeare and Fletcher wrote The Two Noble Kinsmen using various source material including Chaucer, Grecian culture, Elizabethan hierarchy, ancient mythology, etc. So, I decided that we should create our own world also derived from several sources, the main one being Tim Slover’s modern translation. The design took inspiration from ancient Greece, the Blackfriars’ stage, war, “The Hunger Games,” hip-hop, and high fashion. By combining all these elements we are creating a unique world reflective of the past (Shakespeare’s original inspirations), the present (Slover’s translation), and the future (with the next generation of Shakespearean actors). With every Shakespeare play, the universal themes always win out, and for Two Noble Kinsmen we focused on the passion of youth, the obsession of love, the destruction of loyalty, and the delicacy of the human psyche in the backdrop of war.

For an hour before each rehearsal the cast engaged in a physical training. This was a way of physicalizing the text, building teamwork, and strengthening their core in order to play warriors, nobility, and county folk connected to the earth.  The actors don’t have a real experience of war, so training together was a way of getting these ideas from their heads and into their bodies. The training included dance (with choreographer Juan Carlos Claudio), military calisthenics (with Major Tyler Holt, USMC), Suzuki and Viewpoints exercises, original movement techniques, acting exercises developed by the late Kenneth Washington (former Director of the ATP at the U and my mentor), meditation, and yoga.

During the rehearsal process, we kept coming back to the idea of obsession, and how we justify our actions based on a personal belief system connected to religion, societal norms, or political values. An important context for the obsession is youthfulness or a limited experience within a certain aspect of life. The obsession then leads to questions about sanity.  How far is one willing to go to justify what they believe? How does one use their belief system to justify their actions? What is the cost of not taking responsibility for one’s actions? These are the questions that we have been wrestling with.

Another word that kept surfacing was “honor.” What does honor mean to us today?  We had Major Holt come in to train and to talk with the cast. When asked about what honor meant in the Marines, he acknowleded that it was a great question that he has not contemplated in a long time—although it is a key value to the Marines. He said that honor was about doing the right thing in any given situation. And that made me think about who establishes what is ‘“right.” What code are we talking about?  The pursuit of the answer is inherently flawed because honor is a human invention. And yet it is a core value in so many organized institutions. This play challenges those same ideas.

Speaking from my own value system, strongly influenced by my Mom, I am deeply honored to be back at my alma matter and direct this play with an amazing group of students (including actors, stage managers and a few designers) who jumped in at one hundred percent with full heart and soul, and the unflinching support of faculty and staff of the great University of Utah Department of Theatre.

Thank you for coming. We hope you enjoy the show!

Productions

“Eclipsed” a piece of untold history

27 Feb , 2017  

Eclipsed is the story of five extraordinary women brought together by the upheaval of war in their homeland of Liberia. During the chaos of the second Liberian Civil War, the captive wives of a rebel officer group together to shape a fragile community, until the balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, Eclipsed reveals the courage and strength of the women who are often overlooked in a world where war endures, and women are still fighting to survive.

The brilliant all-black female cast for Eclipsed include members from the Department of Theatre with McKenna Kay Jensen as Helena, Terryn Shigg as Bessie, Darby Mest as The Girl, Madaeline Lamah as Maima, and local artist Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin as Rita. Eclipsed is directed by New York Artistic Director, Stephanie Weeks.

The Stanford Daily claimed Eclipsed as “a celebration of diversity and the mighty power of women, Eclipsed is the perfect piece for educating and entertaining a modern American audience on issues which typically go unseen and unreported.” Capturing a piece of untold history about women who come together, fight against the war, and bring peace to their homeland of Liberia, Eclipsed is an inspiring tale of hope, humor, and resilience.

The production runs March 3-11 in Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 E. There will be a panel discussion with U of U faculty on March 9, and a post-show discussion with the cast and creative team on March 10. Tickets available at tickets.utah.edu.

Productions

“Dogfight” a must-see!

14 Feb , 2017  

Speckled with comedy, love, and tragedy, Dogfight takes its audience on a heartbreaking and powerful journey that changes even the strongest soldiers.

The Department of Theatre opened the spring season with Dogfight, a romantic and witty musical adaptation of the 1991 movie with River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. Winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical in 2013, Dogfight is directed and choreographed by Denny Berry.

The play is set on November 21, 1963.  On the eve of their deployment to a growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery and partying. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace (Jesse Klick) meets Rose (Liz Terry), an awkward waitress he volunteers to win a brutal bet with his fellow recruits. “Dogfight is the story of the timeless tragedy of the effects of war on youth. Beyond that, it’s also the story of how one young woman’s sense of self awakens the power of compassion in a young man,” says Berry.

The production stars undergraduate theatre students including Javier Flores as “Bernstein”, Sky Kawai as “Boland,” Mikki Reeve as “Marcy”; and Actor Training Program Professor Sarah Shippobotham as “Mama.” The production incorporates a vividly large and dynamic set designed by instructor Thomas George with a live band conducted by instructor Alex Marshall. The production runs September 16-25 in Babcock Theatre, 330 S. 1500 E. There will be a post-performance discussion with the cast and creative team on February 10, and a panel discussion with U of U faculty members on February 17.

Dogfight reviews:

Utah Theatre Bloggers

Broadway World 

 

Productions

“Arcadia’s” Production Team

16 Nov , 2016  

“This vibrant play moves effortlessly between the centuries and explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our life orbits, the attraction Newton left out.”

Sydney Cheek-O’Donnell (dramaturg)

A dramaturg is the theatre artist who specializes in connecting a play to the performance context in which it will be performed. We do this in a variety of ways. One of the ways in which we do that is by conducting and sharing relevant research with our production team, actors, and audience. We typically do research on the play, the playwright, the content of the play, and the original context in which the play was written and performed. This information becomes creative source material for the theatre artists involved; and it can offer audiences ways to connect the play to their own lives and the world around them.

Arcadia, this took the form of an extensive glossary because the characters refer to dozens of historical figures, places, artistic movements, inventions, and scientific concepts. As with a Shakespeare play, the actors in Arcadia must understand what they are talking about so that they can help lead the audience through the story. The audience may not know exactly what the meaning of “determinism” is, for example, but if the actors understand it, they will be able to convey the significance or weight of it to the audience. The other part of my job is to watch the show in rehearsals at key moments (like run-throughs and dress rehearsals) and provide feedback to the director, with special attention on the clarity of the story telling.

I love this play. I think it’s probably one of the greatest plays—if not the greatest play—of the 20th century. The play addresses an astonishing variety of ideas, not just through the words the characters speak, but through the development of the play’s action, the way props are used and accumulate on stage, and the way characters parallel one another. The variety of complex ideas addressed in the play along with the sheer number of specific references the characters make to various historical figures, made simply developing a glossary an extremely challenging task. To create a good glossary, a dramaturg needs to process the information into bite-sized chunks that are clear and relevant to an actor. For a lot of plays, a glossary will only take a couple of days to put together. This one took me a couple of weeks. I think it ended up being in the neighborhood of 18 pages. So although it’s an extremely challenging text to work on, it’s also been a joy.

Macarena Subiabre (Stage Manager)

I was incredibly excited to start working on this show after reading the script. I love working with the people in the cast, many of which I have already worked with before, but have such different roles and challenges in this show. I also have really enjoyed seeing the process that the designers have had during this show, and seeing how their ideas all come together. This show is unique in the sense that there are so many props to keep track of. The scenes in this show are more intimate, and the connection between characters is incredibly important, which is what makes it so captivating. The show is also different in that every line said in this show is important, as it a clue to future scenes or it explains a previous action.

Haley Nowiki (Set Designer)

It has been a whole new experience for me designing the set for Arcadia. This is my third show at the U and it’s also the first show that takes place in another time period. I really enjoyed researching the architecture of the early 19th century and putting my own spin on things to create a more realistic experience for the audience. My favorite part of this set has got to be the floor. I worked with the scenic charge, Halee Rasmussen, and we painted it in the span of 2 days. It was so exciting to see a plain black stage floor transform into beautiful finished hard wood right in front of my eyes. It really ties the scene together for me. The whole set is so elegant and clean that it has become a stately home in our little basement theater. The most challenging part of this design was probably the research I had to do for it. I had to make sure that the elements I wanted to include were built correctly and were selling the right time period to the audience. Historical accuracy is important for a show like this one, so I had to make sure that I was digging deep to find the exact look I was going for, while still allowing me the freedom to mix and match ideas and include some of my artistry. It was pretty cool to design my own crown moulding and wainscoting, though.

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Christa Didier (Costume Designer)

This show had a unique challenge of two different time periods, early 1800s and 1993. For the 1990’s, there were a lot of things I could skip; I already know from experience the types of fabrics that were used, the type of undergarments (which affects the silhouette ), and have a general sense of what “fits” the time and what doesn’t. I had to concentrate more on figuring out what was appropriate to each character, and what reads as British and aristocratic rather than middle class or American (Hint: American fashion was flashier and more unhinged.) It takes a lot of specific research to develop an instinct for what works and what doesn’t within a certain context, especially when the differences can be so subtle. I struggled with making things look British enough, particularly since my director, Sarah Shippobotham, is a native Brit who experienced the 90’s personally. She was always able to point out when something didn’t look quite right, even in such small of details as Valentine needing to unbutton his shirt collar.

As for the Regency research, I researched the type of structural undergarments that were used, fabric types, popular colors, accessories, silhouettes, appropriate fabric patterns, and a little bit of research of what came before and after. Something you have to keep in mind is that you usually won’t the luxury of getting to build every costume from scratch. It’s just not economical, especially in a show like this with 43 costumes. Out of those, I was only able to build part or all of the costume pieces for five looks, and sadly one of those actually ended up being cut from the show. The rest of the costumes must be pulled from existing storage, rented from other companies, or purchased and altered. I came up with an idea for a costume to use at the end of the show that was sort of “out there.” It’s more symbolic, less literal; sort of a wearable metaphor. Luckily, Sarah was on board when I explained the idea. I won’t spoil the ending for those who haven’t seen the show yet, but I will say I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. Initially this had very little to do with the play itself, but together in a very specific moment of the play, they conjure up powerful imagery and symbolism that I felt added depth and emotion to the scene.

Arcadia runs November 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and 19 and 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Babcock Theatre.

By: Kim Davison

Productions,Students

Actors from “Arcadia”

16 Nov , 2016  

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Daniel Amsel (Septimus Hodge)

Arcadia is a very intense, intellectual show. My character, in particular, demands that I am smart and deceitfully emotional. This is something that is difficult for me to do in my personal life, so this rehearsal process has been full of a lot of self-reflection and I’ve grown a lot personally because of it. I love the wit of this show! Everyone’s ideas bounce off each other so smoothly and powerfully. When everyone in the cast is attuned to each other, the amount of energy between the lines is palpable. It’s really something amazing, and not all plays manage to create that! I imagine people think plays with people sitting around a talking sounds horribly boring. I’d like to prove then wrong. It’s a magical, exciting, dangerous 3-hour play that puts you in the edge of your seat!

Ashley Patlan (Lady Croom)

This rehearsal process has been really unique for me. We focused more on the text and understanding how the thoughts of the characters move through it, rather than just getting it up on its feet as soon as possible. This was quite refreshing, as I feel that this approach allowed me to understand what I was saying/what was being said about my character and how we were saying it before we could even get it blocked and into our bodies. Working with Sarah has been really quite wonderful and a dream come true. I’ve always admired her and her work and so it was truly lucky to have this opportunity. She doesn’t sugar-coat anything and pushes me to the maximum, but does so in a way that it stokes a fire in me to want to do better. I’ve never had a director who was so passionate to find and bring to light the absolute best in everyone’s abilities. She’s unique in the best way possible. I love everything about this show—from the time periods, to the dialect, to the language, to the lighting, attire, music, cast, crew, etc. This show is beautiful in every way possible. People should come see this show because it’s funny, heartwarming, and witty and makes you see things in ways you haven’t considered before. It has humor, language, maths, science, love, sex, fire, tortoises – It has it all!

Gavin Yehle (Gus and Augustus)

It feels amazing being in my first U of U show! I feel like I’ve been waiting these two years for this opportunity. But now that the whole thing is coming to fruition, it doesn’t really feel much different from any other show that I’ve been in before. I definitely think that the first two years of school have really prepared me for the show and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of the tools in order to make the acting the best it can be. This show is definitely quite complex. There are all kinds of things that come back later, or are referenced in a different part of the show, and it’s all of these little connections that make the show so interesting. I also really love that I get to play the character that becomes sort of the crossover between the two different time periods; the last scene, which is when this crossover comes to fruition, is definitely my favorite part of the show, and I really love the ambiguity of the two characters coming together. It is a really beautiful show with amazing costumes, set, lighting, and sound design that really adds to the show. I’m happy that I get to watch the beauty of the very last scene every night as I come onstage.

Kali Scott (Hannah Jarvis)

Arcadia is very complex and driven by energy, character, and relationships. There is a lot to play with and I always have to be on my toes! Also, everyone involved in the production is great to work with. Sarah Shippobotham has the ability to direct people into beautiful, human moments and the play is full of them. It’s funny, sarcastic, sexy, smart, and everyone shines. I’ve never done an accent before, so that’s been challenging and fun. It has been challenging for me to find the ease and subtly, yet driving energy of this world. This play focuses a lot on enigmatic complexity of the world and humans, so finding a way to fully express multiple aspects of a moment or character, giving each its equal due without focusing too much on the moment, has been an exciting adventure.

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Joshua Wood (Bernard Nightingale)

It has been a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time analyzing the text as it is a hugely argument driven play. After analyzing language we spent some time building our characters and the world. It has been a very exciting show to work on and I feel like I have learned an incredible amount in the process. This show is a lot more language based than most. It also requires a huge amount of energy. I Love how funny and clever it is while exploring many subjects including sex, literature, math, science, and philosophy. Because it is funny, entertaining, and most of all, it will give you something to think and talk about! The most challenging part has been keeping up the energy and learning to think through each argument every time I say them.

Monica Goff (Chloe Coverly)

The rehearsal process for Arcadia has been really fun and exciting, particularly since we have been working extensively on a lot of different things so we’re always engaged and always working, even when we’re not in rehearsal. Working with Sarah has been really helpful because I have her as my professor for two classes, so we’ve been in constant conversation about acting, text, and how to apply what we’re learning to Arcadia and things we learn during rehearsal to our classes. I am so excited to be in my first show at the U! It’s really thrilling to finally get to apply the skills that we’ve been spending hundreds of hours working on for the past 2 years. I love that this show is really text heavy. It makes you think while you’re watching it and it’s really a challenge to stay in the moment on stage. People should come to see Arcadia because it’s funny, intellectual, and visually stunning!

Arcadia runs November 17-20 at 7:30 p.m. and 19 and 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Babcock Theatre.

By: Kim Davison

Productions

Making of “Self Defense, or death of some salesmen”

24 Oct , 2016  

Playwright Carson Kreitzer’s Self Defense, or death of some salesmen is the Department of Theatre’s second production of the season. It tells the story of a woman who has been convicted of killing seven men; she claims that she killed them all in self-defense. In her preface, Kreitzer writes, “This play is dedicated to Aileen Wuornos, and all those whose names we don’t know.” The following are some behind-the-scenes conversations on the making of the Studio 115 production of Self Defense, or death of some salesmen.

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Production Team

Alexandra Harbold (Director)

“When I was asked to direct Self Defense, or death of some salesmen, I immediately fell in love with Carson’s script – its questions, velocity, scalpel wit, and compassion. The play makes pendulum swings; a scene will cut to the bone then torque with unexpected theatricality. Studio 115’s three-quarter stage allows for an intimacy and immediacy of the work, and we worked to find a kinetic staging to serve the script in that space.  As a Cast and Creative Team, we stayed in a state of experimentation much longer than usual, which allowed us to develop the visual and aural language of our play-world over time.”

“The production is many drafts and layers deep because of their ongoing exploration and investment. Working on Self Defense, or death of some salesmen often felt more like rehearsing a devised theatre piece than on a traditional script. Although it is an established play, I felt it shape-shift with the casting of the ensemble and the particular demands and advantages of the space. This production feels like our very particular telling of Carson Kreitzer’s play. Throughout the process, Carson’s dedication in the play’s preface has been our compass star: attention must be paid.”

Zoe Fetters (Costume Designer)

“The first thing I do as a costume designer is read the play. Then, I read it again. I probably read the play about 40 times to truly understand it. Then I do visual research and talk to the director about their vision for the show. For this play I tried to take ideas of the 80s and 90s and integrate them subtly to the piece. I did research for individual characters to find their visual story. I always want it to look like the costume pieces would come from each specific character’s closet. When I design I start broad and then narrow it down. For this production I found old magazines from the 80s and 90s and found my inspiration from there. Designing Self Defense, or the death of some salesmen stretched a design muscle for me on how artistic I can be.”

Cate Heiner (Dramaturg)

“A dramaturg builds the historical background for a piece of drama by making sure the story is clear and consistent. The first thing I do when starting a new production is get in touch with the director and talk about the concept. Then I do research and make a packet of information to help the actors. For this show I researched the law and sexual violence. After doing that research I discovered how rape and sexual violence are treated in the court system is extremely unfair. It was interesting to see how all of the pieces of Self Defense, or the death of some salesmen came together. One of the most challenging things about being the dramaturge for this production is the more we unpacked it the more we realized it really isn’t about Aileen Wuornos. It is about how other people and people of the court systems respond to sexual assault, rape and violence towards women.”

Actors

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Isabella Reeder (Jo Palmer)

“The rehearsal process for this show was a great mix of table work, movement-based exercises like ‘flocking’ and ‘Suzuki’, and playing with the set pieces pretty early on in the process. Particularly with the flocking work, it’s been a wonderful gift to see how all of us in the company have come together to grow and trust one another, which I think is so integral in a show that deals with the themes that Self Defense, or death of some salesmen does. These exercises have been incredibly helpful in this show, not only define character and relationships, but also to increase my own awareness of the kind of staging that needs to takes place in Studio 115. My character, Jolene Palmer, is based on the real-life first female serial killer, Aileen Wuornos.  The most interesting part about playing my character has been diving into the personality, drive, and story of the actual woman. When I first started researching Aileen Wuornos, I expected to come up with an embittered, violent woman, but was surprised to find that she was actually a very loving, charismatic—and moreover, incredibly intelligent—individual. I love the collision of themes in this play: justice, shame, and hope in a kind of metaphorical (and at times, physical) courtroom; being able to hear the voice and points of views of women who are usually silenced in our everyday reality. It’s a very muscularly logical play, but it has such a deep vein of humanity running through it, which makes it all the more powerful.”

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Cece Otto (Lu)

“Working with Andra has been awesome. She makes you feel like a star and like you are in a safe space. Being in my first show at the U is nice and scary at same time. I feel like I have been out of practice the last few years; I haven’t performed for the public at the U and have been undercover, hiding, learning technique freshman and sophomore years. In the last two years in the ATP we focused a lot on the voice work, which was something I had never done before. Learning how to speak properly and following arguments are important and are helping me in this production. Something that I discovered in this show is that sometimes the bold choice isn’t always the loud choice. This show is very ensemble-heavy, unique, and it is a female-based show. People should come see it because it’s fun. It is full of strippers and prostitutes. What more could you want?!”

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Alex Coltrin (Prosecutor/Cameraman/Cop)

“This is my first time working with Andra, and it has been interesting. She’s not like any other director I have worked with. She has been hands-on since the beginning. In this production, we have spent more time discovering the world vs. discovering characters. Being in a contemporary show like this has been fun, because it is easier to relate to. I love the movement work and ensemble work we have put into this show. It has a Greek chorus feel and is very compelling to watch. This show has a new take on storytelling, and is not told like any other play I’ve seen. Self Defense, or death of some salesmen is a different kind of show for our department to do, and there is a lot of new talent in the show because of the number of sophomores in the cast.”

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Kelsey Jensen (Cassandra Chase/Pandora/Reporter/Corner 4)

“Working with Andra has been great; she pays attention to every little detail. She wants the best for every person in the cast and wants them to be the best they can be. Being in my first production at the U, I feel like all my hard work from my classes the last two years finally gets to pay off. One of the most challenging things in this show has been diving in and finding the back-story for each character. Finding out who a character is and why they’re speaking, and what each word means. People should come see this show because it shows how corrupt the justice system can be. It is also very visually appealing; there are so many cool tech elements. The show is fast-paced so the audience will be on the edge of their seats the whole time.”

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Bailey Walker (Daytona/Jean/Muse)

“The rehearsal process for this show has been awesome! We’ve been experimenting a lot with movement and the world of this non-linear play. Working with Andra on this production has been absolutely amazing!!! She has such a creative mind and is constantly looking at how to incorporate movement to help move the storyline. She is so passionate about this play; on her time off she was sending us research, inspiration, or working with cast members who want to work more outside of rehearsal. Self Defense, or death of some salesmen has a story that is very relevant to today’s society: how we perceive the truth, gender roles, sexual assault, and how the media portrays all of these things.”

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Make sure to catch Self Defense, or death of some salesmen in Studio 115 while you can! This thrilling play is a must see.

Productions

Announcing the Department of Theatre’s 2016-17 Season

1 Aug , 2016  

Welcome to the 2016-17 Department of Theatre Season!

We kick off the season by returning to the Hayes Christensen Theater at the Marriott Center for Dance to open Bring It On: The Musical, with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In The Heights.

We kick off the season by returning to the Hayes Christensen Theater at the Marriott Center for Dance to open Bring It On: The Musical, with music and lyrics by three-time Tony Award Winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, best known for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals Hamilton and In The Heights.

Highlights from the 2016-17 theatre season include Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia; Self Defense, or death of some salesmen, inspired by the true story of American serial killer Aileen Wournos; the musical Dogfight by Benj Pasek, Justin Paul and Peter Duchan; and Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed, a play about the Liberian Civil War with an all-black female cast, which played on Broadway Spring of 2016.

In April, we conclude the season with the premiere of The Two Noble Kinsmen written by William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, translated by professor Tim Slover and dramaturged by Martine Kei Green-Rogers as part of the 36 new plays translated into modern English as part of the Play On! Project by Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The Department of Theatre strives to maximize the access, interest and impact of theatre for our diverse audiences. The productions will ignite exciting dialogue through talkbacks, panel discussions and other artist interface opportunities. This season will be everything you have hoped for and nothing like you expected.


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Bring It On: The Musical
Bitingly relevant, sprinkled with sass, and inspired by the hit film, Bring It On. The Musical takes audiences on a high-flying journey filled with the complexities of friendship, jealousy, betrayal, and forgiveness. Uniting some of the freshest and funniest creative minds on Broadway, Bring It On features an original story by Tony Award winner Jeff Whitty (Avenue Q), music and lyrics by Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda (In The Heights, Hamilton), music by Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt (Next To Normal), lyrics by Broadway lyricist Amanda Green (High Fidelity) and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical.

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Self Defense, or death of some salesmen

A hitchhiking, highway prostitute is turned into a nation–wide celebrity when she is arrested for the murder of seven men. Is she the nation’s first female serial killer, as the media paint her, or a victim? Self Defense gives a long, hard look at an America most of us don’t want to admit exists.

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Arcadia
This vibrant play moves effortlessly between the centuries and explores the nature of truth and time, the difference between classical and romantic temperaments, and the disruptive influence of sex on our life orbits, the attraction Newton left out.

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Dogfight
On the eve of their deployment to a small but growing conflict in Southeast Asia, three young Marines set out for one final boys’ night of debauchery, partying and maybe a little trouble. But when Corporal Eddie Birdlace meets Rose, an awkward and idealistic waitress he enlists to win a cruel bet with his fellow recruits, she rewrites the rules of the game and teaches him the power of love and compassion.

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Eclipsed
Based on the real life stories of the women and girls who helped bring peace to the African nation of Liberia during its second civil war, Eclipsed doesn’t only capture a piece of untold history, it’s also making it. Eclipsed became the first play with an all-black and female creative cast and team to premiere on Broadway in 2015.

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The Two Noble Kinsmen
Two cousins, Palamon and Arcite are captured while fighting for Thebes against Athens. While imprisoned, they find themselves attracted to Emilia, who is the sister of Hippolyta, wife of Theseus. The Two Noble Kinsmen is one of 39 plays to be translated and adapted for Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s three-year Play On! project. This production will be translated by playwright Dr. Tim Slover and the dramaturgist is Dr. Martine Kei Green-Rogers.

 

by Josiane Dubois