“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.
The 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.”
Meadows Theatre continues its 2008-09 season with a new production of Oscar Wilde‘s hugely successful 1895 comedy of love, blackmail and political corruption. An Ideal Husband opens at 8 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Bob Hope Theatre, Owen Arts Center.
The story revolves around a prominent politician whose youthful mistake is threatened with exposure by an aristocratic blackmailer. Social expectations and a Victorian sense of public and private honor contrast with the realities of human imperfection in a play renowned for its wit and insight. The production is directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre James Crawford.
The production runs through Oct. 19 with performances at 8 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday and at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $7 each for faculty, staff and students. Buy tickets online or contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 8-2787 (8-ARTS).
Above, senior Johnard Washington (center) plays Lord Goring, with (clockwise from left) senior Jennifer St. Angelo as Lady Chiltern, senior Olivia Williamson as Mrs. Cheveley and M.F.A. candidate Cheryl Lowber as Mabel Chiltern. Photography by Linda Blase.
The Dallas Theater Center opened its 2007-08 season on a history-making note: Its staging of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, running through Sept. 23, features no fewer than 17 Meadows School of the Arts students, alumni and professors. Read more.