Linda Blase

Meadows Theatre explores Cloud Nine through Oct. 28, 2012

Steven A. Smith (B.F.A. ’14) and Joshua Kumler (B.F.A. ’14) in the SMU Meadows Theatre 2012 production of Caryl Churchill's 'Cloud Nine' - photo by Linda Blase

Steven A. Smith (B.F.A. ’14) and Joshua Kumler (B.F.A. ’14) in the 2012 Meadows Theatre production of Caryl Churchill’s “Cloud Nine.” Photo by Linda Blase

“Accepting people who are different and not dominating them or forcing them into particular social roles” is playwright Caryl Churchill’s message in her breakout 1979 work, Cloud Nine. SMU’s Meadows Theatre showcases that message in its second production of the season Oct. 24-28, 2012.

Cloud Nine takes the audience on a journey of social issues, gender roles and power through time. The play’s two acts have two very different settings: The first is set in British colonial Africa in 1880, then fast-forwards one hundred years to the second, set in London in 1980. Student actor Steven Smith explained this dynamic: “The challenge isn’t the actor’s, it’s the audience’s. Caryl Churchill is asking you to watch each play, Act One and Act Two, and see how they inform and respond to each other.”

Another interesting dynamic in Churchill’s play is that each actor plays two separate roles, with male actors playing women and vice versa. “The gender-reversed casting becomes a useful tool when, from the audience’s perspective, you are watching Betty go through her life as the most beautifully feminine woman she knows how to be – her intentions and her behavior all point to that end – but you are constantly confronted with the physically male actor,” says Smith, who plays Betty. “There is a tension and a conflict there that is never acknowledged in the world of the play. It’s yours to do with as you will.”

James Crawford, associate professor and Head of Acting in the Division of Theatre, directs the production. Performances take place in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are available online and are $7 each for faculty, staff and students.

A full cast list (in alphabetical order) appears under the jump.

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Meadows Theatre opens season with hymn to This Beautiful City

Meadows School of the Arts opens its 2012-13 theatre season with a play produced from interviews that explore issues leading up to, and after, the 2006 election, with a particular focus on faith and the evangelical movement.

This Beautiful City will run Sept. 26-30 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Colorado Springs is known as the “unofficial” capital of the evangelical movement. The Civilians, the play’s original writers and performers, spent more than 10 weeks researching and interviewing there before creating their work. It was first performed in spring 2008 and went on to receive Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk and Drama Guild nominations.

The New York Times describes the play as “an engaging, inquisitive and moving piece of theatre.” The play is unique in that it’s not written in narrative form but instead highlights dozens of thoughts and opinions with a musical twist.

The Meadows troupe will perform the work under the direction of Blake Hackler, an assistant professor in the Division of Theatre.

Students, faculty and staff can purchase event tickets for $7. For more information, contact the Meadows Ticket Office at 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Find a full cast below the jump. (Video courtesy of SMU Meadows School of the Arts; photo by Linda Blase.)

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Meadows Theatre ends 2011-12 season with Blues for Mister Charlie

M.F.A. candidate Russell Jonas as Lyle Britten and sophomore theatre major Adam A. Anderson as Richard Henry in the Meadows Theatre production of James Baldwin's "Blues for Mister Charlie," running April 25-29, 2012. Photo credit: Linda Blase.

A white citizen of a small Southern town murders a black man visiting from the North, then dumps his body in the weeds. The aftermath, and the wounds that racism inflicts on the town’s black and white communities alike, are the substance of poet James Baldwin’s second play.

Meadows Theatre closes its 2011-12 season with Baldwin’s Blues for Mister Charlie, running April 25-29 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Baldwin’s play, published in 1964, is loosely based on the 1955 killing of 14-year-old Emmitt Till in Mississippi, an event that shocked the nation and galvanized the budding U.S. civil rights movement. Till’s white attackers were acquitted of his murder. (The “Mister Charlie” of the title is a slang term for a white man.) Baldwin dedicated his work to the memory of murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers and his widow and children, as well as to the memory of the four children who died in the 1963 bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Its 1964 premiere was praised in The New York Times for its “…fierce energy and passion…like a thunderous battle cry.”

Tickets are $7 for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online at Vendini or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Meadows Theatre presents Othello through Nov. 20, 2011

SMU theatre students Beethovan Oden and David Price in the 2011 Meadows Theatre production of 'Othello' directed by Michael Connolly, photo by Linda BlaseRacism, love, jealousy and betrayal provide the major themes for one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. Meadows Theatre presents the story of the Moorish general Othello through Nov. 20, 2011 at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The curtain goes up in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Shakespeare’s play is believed to have been written in 1603, based on the 1565 Italian short story “Un Capitano Moro” (“A Moorish Captain”) by Giovanni Battista Cinthio. Since its first known performance in 1604, it has been adapted in every medium from opera to ballet and from film to graphic novel.

The Meadows production is directed by Michael Connolly, associate professor and head of acting in the Meadows Division of Theatre. In this incarnation, the Venice of 1602 is transformed into Paris of 1952 as France struggled to maintain its colonial holdings and international power by dispatching officers and troops into Vietnam.

“By comparing France’s attempt to maintain its empire in Indochina and North Africa with Venice’s commitment to holding Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean, we found a rich, imaginative jumping-off point,” Connolly writes in his director’s notes.

Tickets are $7 for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online at Vendini or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Above, M.F.A. candidate Beethovan Oden as Othello and senior David Price as Iago in the 2011 production of William Shakespeare’s Othello staged by Meadows Theatre at SMU. Photo by Linda Blase.)

Meadows opens 2011-12 theatre season with ‘The Miser’ Sept. 28-Oct. 2

Teddy Spencer and Katherine Bourne in the 2011 Meadows Theatre production of 'The Miser' at SMUThe Division of Theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts opens its main stage season with a new adaptation of a French classic. Assistant Professor of Theatre James Crawford directs Molière’s The Miser from a version translated and adapted by James Magruder. The production runs Sept. 28-Oct. 2 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

The title character is the wealthy moneylender Harpagon, whose obsessive frugality leads him even to search his servants before they leave his house to ensure they haven’t taken anything from him. His son, Cléante, and daughter, Elise, want nothing more than to marry their respective lovers, but Harpagon’s penny-pinching and greed stand in their way.

The play was first performed in 1668, with Molière himself in the title role. It served not only as a comedy of manners but as a pointed send-up of theatrical conventions of the age and even of the French idea of comedy.

Molière biographer Hobart Chatfield-Taylor wrote in 1906 that the playwright’s genius “lay, above all else in telling the truth about mankind…. As a poet, he has been surpassed, but never as a writer of concise, vigorous, and truthful prose dialogue … a dialogue so expressive of human thoughts and human emotions that his characters are still as lifelike as on the day they were drawn.”

The Washington Post described Magruder’s new translation as “a saucy serving … for those who like their French fare spicy and au courant.”

Tickets are $7 each for faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Left, M.F.A. candidate Teddy Spencer as Harpagon and senior theatre major Katherine Bourne as Jacqueline in the 2011 Meadows Theatre production of The Miser by Molière. Photo by Linda Blase.)

> Find performance times and buy tickets online for The Miser
> Read The Miser in its entirety at the Project Gutenberg website

Meadows Theatre presents Caryl Churchill’s The Skriker April 13-17

Rehearsal photo from 'The Skriker'Meadows’ Division of Theatre returns to the stage April 13-17, 2011, with its newest production – The Skriker by Caryl Churchill.

Written in 1994, The Skriker combines magic and realism in a macabre blend as the horrors of modern-day infanticide are entwined with surrealistic fantasy. Churchill’s play concerns a pair of English housemates: Josie (Rachel Werline, B.F.A. ’11), recently institutionalized for murdering her infant child, and Lily (Gracyn Mix, B.F.A. ’12), who is pregnant with her own. Lily is being pursued by a malevolent fairy, the Skriker (Aleisha Force, B.F.A. ’13), a spirit who continues to haunt the not-fully-sane Josie and her terrified roommate.

Meadows Distinguished Professor of Directing Stan Wojewodski Jr. staged the production, and all technical and acting parts are filled by members of the SMU Division of Theatre. Performances take place at 8 p.m. from Wednesday, April 13, to Saturday, April 16. There will be two 2 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17.

All performances will be held in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Prices are $7 for SMU faculty, staff and students ($13 for non-SMU adults). For more information, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

Weekend traffic is expected to be heavy due to the SMU Founders’ Day Weekend celebrations, but the Meadows Museum lot and Meadows U-lot will be available for theatre parking. Patrons must enter the U-lot from Hillcrest Avenue and not Bishop Boulevard, which will be closed.

This production of The Skriker will be performed without an intermission. A full cast and crew list can be found after the jump.

(Above, The Skriker cast in action during a rehearsal. Photograph by Linda Blase.)

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Meadows Theatre rolls out ‘Three Repertory Plays’ Oct. 19-31

Rehearsal photo from the SMU Meadows Theatre production of 'Melancholy Play' by Sarah RuhlThe 2010-11 Meadows Theatre season continues as the Division of Theatre debuts a trio of plays directed by students and professors. “Three Repertory Shows” runs Oct. 19-31 in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

The first work of rising playwright and 2010 Pulitzer Prize nominee Sarah Ruhl opens at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19. Melancholy Play, directed by senior theatre major Joel Heinrich, tells the story of Tilly – a Felliniesque heroine whose sorrowful demeanor fascinates her more cheerful neighbors and makes strangers fall in love with her. Things get complicated, however, when Tilly inexplicably becomes happy. Additional performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. Oct. 22 and Oct. 28, as well as performances at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Oct. 30.

Stephen Adly GuirgisIn Arabia, We’d All Be Kings goes up at 8 p.m. Oct. 20, 23 and 27 and at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 31. The play follows a group of wayward individuals, their local bar, and the cost of living on the streets in Hell’s Kitchen during the Rudy Giuliani era. Kings is directed by senior theatre student Christopher McCreary.

Associate Professor of Theatre Jim Crawford directs The Secretaries, written by the Five Lesbian Brothers. Weight requirements, Slim-Fast-only diets and occasional murder as therapy are all in a day’s work for the titular cubicle denizens in this dark satire on the idea of women as “man-haters.” Performances begin at 8 p.m. Oct. 21; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 24; and 8 p.m. Oct. 26 and 29.

Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. For more information, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Interested in an explanation for a handle like the Five Lesbian Brothers? Learn more about Lisa Kron, acclaimed playwright and creator of the FLB.)

Right, sophomore theatre major Janielle Kastner as Tilly and senior theatre major Zach Gamble as Frank in the Meadows Theatre production of Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl, directed by senior theatre major Joel Heinrich. Photo by Linda Blase.

Meadows Theatre season closes with ‘Much Ado’

Matt Tallman and Cheryl Lowber in the 2010 Meadows Theatre production of 'Much Ado About Nothing'Meadows Theatre closes its 2009-10 season with one of William Shakespeare’s most enduringly popular comedies. Much Ado About Nothing will run April 28-May 2 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Michael Connolly, associate professor and head of acting, directs the production.

The story revolves around a pair of lovers, Claudio and Hero, who are to be married in one week. Meanwhile, they conspire with Don Pedro, the prince of Aragon, to play matchmaker to two of their friends, Beatrice and Benedick. However, the prince’s illegitimate brother, Don John, driven by jealousy, is making plans to sabotage the coming wedding.

Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Above, M.F.A. candidates Matt Tallman and Cheryl Lowber as Benedick and Beatrice in Meadows Theatre’s 2010 production of William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Michael Connolly. Photo by Linda Blase.)

Theatre students present ‘New Visions, New Voices’ April 21-25

SMU Meadows Theatre 'Chat Room' rehearsal photoThe Division of Theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts presents innovative new plays written and directed by undergraduates in its 16th annual “New Visions, New Voices” festival April 21-25.

The 2010 festival includes 2 fully produced plays. Pretty, Smart, Poetic – written by Brigham Mosley and directed by Brandon Sterrett – poses questions about a life of balance versus a life of success in a story of a family struggling to find purpose in the competing needs of logical minds, artistic souls and physical bodies.

Viriol, written by Regina Bonifasi and directed by Angelina Fiorini, follows lead character Bianca as she searches for human connection in the darkly comic world of Serai Asylum.

Alumni of previous years’ festivals have formed new theatre companies; become writers, actors and directors in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities; and gone on to study theatre at graduate schools around the country, says festival producer Gretchen Elizabeth Smith, associate professor and head of theatre studies.

“Our playwriting students have drawn praise from notable professional playwrights for their work, which reflects their talent, intellect and dedication,” she says. “This festival offers the public a wonderful opportunity to see the first material by these artists of the future.”

All performances take place in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are $7 for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787, (214-SMU-ARTS).

Above, sophomore theatre majors Katherine Bourne and Joel Heinrich (at right in photo) with junior theatre major McLean Krieger (center) in the October 2009 Meadows Theatre production of Chat Room by Enda Walsh. Student director Regina Bonifasi wrote a play for the 2010 “New Visions, New Voices” festival. Photo by Linda Blase.

Meadows Theatre performs ‘Mrs. Warren’s Profession’ April 7-11

'Mrs. Warren's Profession' SMU Meadows Theatre rehearsal photo by Linda BlaseKitty Warren has made a fortune in the world’s oldest profession, but she has kept the secret from her daughter, Vivie – an independent, well-educated young woman who is horrified to learn the truth.

Meadows Theatre continues its 2009-10 season with its production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession, running April 7-11 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. The guest director is René Moreno (’81, ’01), who also directed Meadows’ 2005 production of Federico García Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba.

Written in 1893, Mrs. Warren’s Profession originally was denied a license by Queen Victoria’s Lord Chamberlain, then in charge of theatre censorship, due to its subject matter. Not performed freely until 1925, the play stirred controversy not only for its allusions to prostitution, but for its attack on the domestic imprisonment of women by the male-dominated culture of the period. The playwright uses Mrs. Warren’s dilemma to explore both her struggle to win her daughter’s respect and the hypocrisy of the era’s genteel classes.

Shaw said he wrote the play “to draw attention to the truth that prostitution is caused, not by female depravity and male licentiousness, but simply by underpaying, undervaluing, and overworking women so shamefully that the poorest of them are forced to resort to prostitution to keep body and soul together…. Mrs. Warren’s defence of herself and indictment of society is the thing that most needs saying.”

Performances are at 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $7 for SMU faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Above, M.F.A. candidate Morgan Southard as Mrs. Warren and senior theatre major Ozioma Akagha as VIvie in the 2010 Meadows Theatre production of Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw. Photo by Linda Blase.)

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