Meadows Theatre

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 opens season with classic ‘Our Town’

Our TownSMU theatre students are bringing out a classic to open the 2010-11 theatre season: Thornton Wilder’s groundbreaking, Pulitzer-winning, fourth-wall-shattering Our Town.

The hit 1938 play, written as a social commentary on the everyday lives of middle-class Northeastern America, is famously known for its subdued, bare-bones production: little scenery, zero set design, and minimal props (some performers even reduced to miming actions). Traditionally, the play is performed in close settings, and the ever-prescient character known only as the Stage Manager is fully aware of the viewers’ existence, making for a uniquely close experience between actors and audience.

Or, in Wilder’s shorter description, “I wished to record a village’s life on the stage, with realism and with generality.”

SMU’s production opens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29 and will run through Sunday, Oct. 3 (all times and tickets can be found here). The play is directed by veteran SMU theatre professor Rhonda Blair. Blair, who has directed and acted in more than 70 productions, cherishes the ideals represented by Wilder’s unusual production design.

Beverly Johnson“It’s very hard to tamper with Our Town because the story and its form are, to my mind, inseparable. Simplicity, story, and a focus on imagination – both the actors’ and the audience’s – are fundamental to Wilder’s desire to have us pay attention to the meaningfulness of the characters’, and therefore, our, daily experiences,” said Blair.

Eighteen Meadows theatre students make up the cast of Our Town, with Assistant Professor of Voice Jack Greenman joining the cast as the omniscient and soliloquy-replete Stage Manager.

“I hope people who come to spend the evening or afternoon with us feel as though they’re part of our town, and that, maybe, they have a deeper engagement with the beauty of Wilder’s play,” said Blair.

For more information, call 214-768-2787 or visit the SMU Meadows website.

Find a full list of the complete cast and crew after the jump. (Above, senior Beverly Johnson as Emily Webb.)

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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.)

Meadows Theatre stages comic ‘Dispute’ Feb. 24-28

Production still from the Meadows Theatre production of 'The Dispute' by MarivauxA heated debate has broken out at the court of an 18th-century monarch: Who was the first to be unfaithful in love, a man or a woman? To answer the question, four children, two of either sex, are raised in total isolation from one another and from the world. Twenty years later, the four children, now adolescents, are let loose to discover one another – and love.

Such is the story of The Dispute, written by the great comic playwright Pierre de Marivaux and staged by Meadows Theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. The new production, directed by guest artist Mace Perlman, runs Feb. 24-28 in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

Marivaux (1688-1763) is the second most-performed comic playwright in France, after Molière. Yet he was controversial during his lifetime for his irreverent use of language and propensity for making up words – an affront to the French tradition of protecting the sanctity of the language. He wrote La Dispute in 1744 for Théatre-Français, only to have it shut down after one performance. The actors lacked the physical skills to portray its comic aspects, and the play’s failure to provide a “moral to the story” was shocking to its contemporary audience. The Dispute was not performed again until 1938, and then not again until the mid-1970s.

Guest director Perlman has trained with Marcel Marceau in Paris and with world-renowned director Giorgio Strehler at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. A specialist in 16th-18th century tragicomedy, he has spent more than two decades performing throughout the United States and Europe in the half-masks of the Italian commedia dell’arte in both English and Italian, as well as Shakespearean roles. In addition, he has taught and performed at more than 20 universities, including Harvard, Notre Dame and his alma mater, Stanford.

Perlman is also the first Meadows guest director to provide his own translation of a play written in a non-English language. “Marivaux is known for his unique use of language,” he says. “As I reviewed the existing English translations, none of them seemed to capture the spare music of the original, the inner voice of the play which I heard as I read it in French.”

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, sophomore theatre major Piper Werle and M.F.A. candidate Ricco Fajardo in the Meadows Theatre production of The Dispute by Marivaux. Photo by Linda Blase.)

Meadows Theatre season opens with three repertory shows

rehearsal-photo-chat-room-2009-300.jpgThree contemporary plays will open the 2009-10 season of the Division of Theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. The shows will open consecutively beginning Oct. 8 and will run through Oct. 18 in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center.

The first show, Betrayed by George Packer, opens Oct. 8. Packer, a writer for The New Yorker and author of The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq, based his play about Iraqi translators working for the Americans in Baghdad on his experiences as a reporter there. Betrayed portrays the real-life struggles of Iraqi citizens who offered their services to support the U.S. mission, only to be denied protection by the American government they served as the country splintered among insurgent groups. Stan Wojewodski Jr. directs.

Opening Oct. 9 is Chat Room, a one-act by contemporary Irish playwright Enda Walsh. The drama focuses on a bullied, depressed teenage boy looking for connections in Internet chatrooms, where he finds two anonymous “advisors” who make it their mission to drive him to suicide. Regina Bonifasi directs.

Pure Confidence by Carlyle Brown opens Oct. 10. This comedy-drama, based on historical characters, tells the story of Civil War-era jockey and slave Simon Cato, who uses his determination, wit and athletic skill to chart his own course to freedom. Erik Carter directs.

Tickets for each show are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Find a complete performance schedule, and buy tickets online, at the Meadows Division of Theatre homepage.

Above, sophomore theatre majors Katherine Bourne and Joel Heinrich (at right in photo) with junior theatre major McLean Krieger (center) in Chat Room by Enda Walsh, directed by Regina Bonifasi. Photo by Linda Blase.

Theatre, music divisions collaborate on musical melodrama

Promo still from SMU's production of 'The Two Orphans'A major new collaboration between SMU’s Divisions of Theatre and Music will allow students in the Meadows School of the Arts to work with and learn from professionals on the development of a musical production.

The workshop for theatre and music students – co-directed by Kevin Hofeditz, professor of theatre and associate dean of student affairs, and Hank Hammett, director of opera – showcases Theresa Rebeck‘s new musical theatre piece, The Two Orphans.

Based on the popular 19th-century melodrama about the harrowing experiences of siblings lost and separated in Paris, Rebeck’s libretto tells the story of two African-American sisters adjusting to life in 1865 New Orleans after the end of the Civil War.

Composer Kim D. Sherman and lyricists Rebeck and John Sheehy will be guest artists in residence during rehearsals. Performances take place at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday April 29-May 3 in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Purchase online or call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Right, senior music major Madelyn Fortner, standing, and senior theatre major Bianca Denis in The Two Orphans. Photo by Linda Blase.)

Meadows and Kitchen Dog Theater reimagine ‘Titus Andronicus’

Joe Nemmers and Rukhmani Desai in 'Titus Andronicus'Kitchen Dog Theater (KDT) and SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts continue their artistic collaboration with the premiere of the latest KDT-Meadows Theatre co-production – a new adaptation of William Shakespeare’s bloodiest play.

Titus Andronicus will run April 17-May 16 at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC), 3120 McKinney Avenue, in Dallas.

The 2009 production, adapted by KDT Artistic Company Members Leah Spillman and Lee Trull, transposes the play from classical Rome to an ancient Mayan setting with its themes of revenge, justice and violence begetting violence intact. The play contains adult situations and graphic violence and is recommended for mature audiences.

“There is a strong sense in the play that Shakespeare was exploring the nature of a powerful empire. I felt that setting the story in the Mayan empire is appropriate when you consider the themes of this play set against the backdrop of this primitive yet complex civilization,” says director Christopher Carlos, KDT’s co-artistic director.

“The cycle of vengeance has existed across time, and no matter how civilized we appear to have grown, humans still revert to revenge to address their losses today. I think it is important for us to see the very human side of violence in order to confront it in ourselves and in our society.”

Six current SMU theatre students will perform in the play: Brigham Mosely (Lucius), Rukhmani Desai (Lavinia), Micah Figueroa (Chiron), Andres Ortiz (Demetrius), Robert Patrick Paterno (Alarbus) and David Gorena (Maritus).

In addition, the production team features SMU students Emily Bean (lighting design), Colby Peck (dramaturg) and Stephanie Slevin (set design). Meadows faculty members Bill Lengfelder (fight choreographer) and Jamal Mohammed (composer) also hold key production positions.

Opening night tickets are sold out. Tickets for remaining shows are $15-$25. Buy tickets online or visit the KDT website for more information.

(Above, Kitchen Dog Theater Artistic Company Member Joe Nemmers as Titus and SMU senior theatre major Rukhmani Desai as his daughter, Lavinia, in the KDT/Meadows co-production of Titus Andronicus. Photo by Matt Mrozek.)

Theatre students offer ‘New Visions, New Voices’

Scene from the Meadows Theatre production of 'Intimate Apparel'The Division of Theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts presents 6 innovative new plays written and directed by undergraduates in its 15th annual spring playwriting festival, “New Visions, New Voices,” March 25-29.

The 2009 festival includes 4 fully produced plays: Welcome, Waystation, The Constellations Don’t Have Faces and Where Pride Rides.

Two additional plays, But It’s My Wedding Day and Lapsaria, will be read Saturday afternoon and Sunday evening, respectively.

“Our playwriting students have drawn praise from notable professional playwrights for their work, which reflects their talent, intellect and dedication,” says Gretchen Elizabeth Smith, associate professor and head of theatre studies. Festival alumni “can be found across the country in the entertainment world,” she adds. “It 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. Some of the plays contain adult situations and/or strong language. Tickets are $7 for students and SMU faculty and staff. For more information, contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787, or find a link to buy online at the Meadows website.

(Above, senior Bianca Denis and sophomore Beverly Johnson in the February 2009 Meadows Theatre production of Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage. Student director Molly Murphy will also direct 2 plays in this year’s “New Visions, New Voices” festival. Photo by Linda Blase.)

Read more about this year’s productions, including dates and times, from SMU News

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