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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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

Meadows Theatre honors Black History Month with new production

Meadows Theatre production of 'Intimate Apparel'Meadows Theatre celebrates Black History Month 2009 with its production of Lynn Nottage’s award-winning play Intimate Apparel Feb. 25-March 1 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. The production is directed by Molly Murphy, a senior directing student in the Division of Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts.

Winner of five national awards for best play, including the New York Drama Critics Circle award, Intimate Apparel revolves around the character of Esther, an African-American seamstress living in New York at the beginning of the 20th century who creates beautiful lingerie for society women and prostitutes alike. She falls in love with a Panama Canal laborer who woos her through romantic letters, though she is also admired by a shy Jewish merchant who sells fabrics to her. Nottage, who based the play on the life of her great-grandmother, called it “a lyrical meditation on one woman’s loneliness and desire.”

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. For more information, contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).

(Above, senior Bianca Denis as Esther and sophomore Beverly Johnson as Mayme in the Meadows Theatre production of Intimate Apparel. Photo by Linda Blase.)