Meadows Theatre explores <em>Cloud Nine</em> through Oct. 28, 2012

theatre season

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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October 24, 2012|Calendar Highlights, Tune In|

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).

April 25, 2012|Calendar Highlights, News|

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.)

February 23, 2010|Calendar Highlights, News|

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.

October 6, 2009|Calendar Highlights, News|
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