Meadows Theatre has set the stage for Tom Stoppard’s award-winning play inspired by the final scene of Hamlet – and told from the point of view of the two luckless characters who meet their fates offstage.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre Kara-Lynn Vaeni, runs Wednesday-Sunday, Feb. 28-March 4, 2018 in the Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are $8 each for SMU students, faculty and staff.
Described by The Guardian’s Michael Billington as “an astonishing balance between cross-talk comedy and poignant awareness of mortality,” Stoppard’s work focuses on Hamlet from the perspective of the title character’s childhood friends, who have been charged with spying on the prince by his uncle, King Claudius. Hamlet, Ophelia and other Shakespearean characters swirl in and out of the action as the increasingly bewildered courtiers proceed inexorably toward their doom.
First staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1966, Stoppard’s absurdist tragicomedy won four 1968 Tony Awards, including Best Play. It received the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for best play in 1968 and was named Outstanding Production by the Outer Critics’ Circle in 1969. Stoppard himself adapted and directed a film version in 1990, starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth.
The show has a two-hour running time, with a 10-minute intermission at the end of Act I. Please remember that photography and recording of any kind are expressly forbidden at all Meadows School of the Arts performances.
Appointed in recognition of their creative vitality and ongoing contributions to the fields of dance, jazz and theater, awardees will each receive $275,000 in flexible, multi-year funding as well as financial and legal counseling, professional development activities and peer-to-peer learning opportunities provided by Creative Capital, DDCF’s primary partner in the awards.
Other recipients include Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage, choreographer and MacArthur Fellowship awardee Mark Morris and Pulitzer Prize-winning musician Henry Threadgill.
Maurine Knighton, program director for the arts at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, said, “The foundation is pleased to support this new class of Doris Duke Artists. The composers, musicians, theater artists, choreographers and playwrights who comprise this cohort are visionaries who have already made important contributions to their respective fields. We hope these awards enhance their capacities for exploration and experimentation, in keeping with Doris Duke’s adventurous spirit. DDCF looks forward to their continued creativity, as their work is not only important to the creative sector, but vital to the vibrancy of our society, as well.”
Power is an award-winning playwright and performer who combines classic folklore with modern elements. His recent musical Stagger Lee (2015) spanned the 20th century, tracing mythical characters in their quest to achieve the American Dream. Its deep-seated themes of racism and power were translated through Joplin-inspired tunes, R&B and hip-hop.
His other plays include Fetch Clay, Make Man, which enjoyed a successful run Off-Broadway at the New York Theatre Workshop; Steel Hammer with SITI Company (Humana Festival); The Seven (winner of the Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical, New York Theatre Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse); Five Fingers of Funk! (Children’s Theatre Company); Honey Bo and The Goldmine (La Jolla Playhouse); and two acclaimed solo shows, The Gathering and Flow, which toured over 70 cities in the U.S., Europe and Australia.
Power’s other awards include a United States Artist Prudential Fellowship, the TCG Peter Zeisler Memorial Award, a Jury Award for Best Theatre Performance at the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival and the Trailblazer Award from The National Black Theater Network.
“I am thrilled and honored to receive a 2016 Doris Duke Artist Award,” said Power. “As an artist, the road is often unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed. I have tried to the best of my ability to travel this road and create stories the best I can. When you live life as an artist, you try to sustain your faith in what you’re doing, and you pray that you will also be able to adequately take care of your family. This award allows me to do just that – it is a public acknowledgment of what I am trying to say while giving me some long-term support to provide and care for those I love. I am forever grateful to receive this award from the Doris Duke Foundation.”
Power won the Meadows School of the Arts’ Meadows Prize in 2011, an international arts residency launched in fall 2009. During his residency at SMU, Power worked with Meadows student actors and designers to create a new theatre work, Alice Underground, a modern spin on the tale of Alice in Wonderland. His work in Dallas as winner of the Meadows Prize was a partnership between the Meadows School and the Dallas Theater Center.
Power was subsequently named an artist-in-residence at the Meadows School and is also the Andrew W. Mellon Playwright in Residence with the Dallas Theater Center, a position awarded through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and HowlRound. Stagger Lee,which was produced and premiered by the Dallas Theater Center in 2015, was partially developed in workshops in collaboration with the Meadows School as a part of Powers’ Meadows Prize residency.
He also conceived and directed The Shakespeare Project at SMU in 2013, which fused the rhythms of Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter with the contemporary beats of hip-hop, and used that rhythm to explore key Shakespearean characters. The Shakespeare Project was an extension of a work Power created for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the London Olympics in 2012, a hip-hop version of Caliban’s speech from The Tempest.
His film and television appearances include The Colbert Report (Comedy Central), and Bill Moyers on Faith and Reason (PBS).
Power was a guest of the U.S. State Department on five separate occasions, traveling to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. On these trips and others, he taught community workshops in shantytowns, worked with poets in former regimes of the Soviet Union and lectured at various libraries, grammar schools and colleges.
Currently, he is working on Wade in the Water, which he describes as a “Nuvo-Gospel Musical,” or a work that brings a more contemporary viewpoint to a traditional Biblical or gospel tale. It is being commissioned and developed at Center Theater Group in Los Angeles.
Now in its 22nd season, the New Visions, New Voices play writing festival brings the raw stories, language and characters of graduating SMU Meadows theatre students to the stage.
The full-length plays written by students are presented as staged readings, without costumes or sets. The students are partnered with either an alumnus or a Meadows faculty member who directs the student’s play and provides mentorship. Each performance is followed up with a discussion between the audience, playwright, director and actors.
All performances will take place in the Greer Garson Theatre at the Owens Art Center from March 30 to April 3, 2016.
Students involved in the production learn an invaluable set of skills while seeing their own writing come to life. “One of the most important things New Visions has helped me develop is creative discipline. If I wish to be a creative professional, I can’t just make things when inspiration strikes. I need to show up every day, and be there waiting for inspiration when it finally decides to show up,” says Jeremy Arata, whose piece will be showcased on Sunday, April 3.
Here is this year’s dynamic line-up:
Wednesday, March 30, 2016 – 8:00 p.m.: Tough Loveby Holly Settoon, Directed by Jacob Nice ’15
The play looks at the lives of three young people who meet in a teen detention center somewhere in the American heartland, all of whom are struggling to survive the boredom, emptiness and anarchy of their time in the system.
Thursday, March 31, 2016 – 8:00 p.m.: Filthby Isaac Young, Directed by Alia Tavakolian ’12
In a tiny Virginia town, a young woman struggles to keep the family farm afloat. But between the memories that haunt her and the introverted ways that make her unable to keep a job in town, she’s going to lose everything. That is, until a man needs her farm for his low-budget porn films – and offers to make her a star. Based on an unbelievable true story, the play is a tale of survival in the face of tragedy. Adult language and situations; not suitable for children and pre-teens.
Friday, April 1, 2016 – 8:00 p.m.: Finale by Dylan Guerra, Directed by Samantha Rios ’13
If they can survive the Dolphin Apocalypse, how bad can graduation be? When the seam of the universe opens, four best friends and one uninvited guest find themselves sucked into an alternate world on the eve of their college graduation. Secret loves are revealed, lies are uncovered, milkshakes are shaken and tickets to the Sunday Church Carnival are sold. Will they make it home in time to graduate, or will they become insignificant casualties in the bloody uprising by man’s favorite mammal? Adult language and substances.
Saturday, April 2, 2016 – 2:00 p.m.: Siren’s Songby Sasha Davis, Directed by Kristen Kelso ’14
Eager to escape the ghettos of Detroit, Wren studies to get into any college far away. When tragedy destroys her plans for a future with Thomas, she disappears into her grief for a decade, until awkward, funny Arthur drops into her life. The play considers the questions of lost love, new love, and self-love: which one is the hardest to accept?
Saturday, April 2, 2016 – 8:00 p.m.: Knew Youby Laura Dupper, Directed by Jenna Hannum ’15
What is love? What makes it spark between one couple, and fade between another? In Knew You, James and Ellie ask the questions people have been asking for centuries. They fall in love as they interview friends and dissect classic romances for a school project. But as they fall out of love, will they find the answers they need or will love stay as elusive and enigmatic as ever?
Sunday, April 3, 2016 – 2:00 p.m.: Tiberby Jeremy Arata, Directed by Associate Professor of Theatre Sara Romersberger
At a minor way-station in space, seven strangers find themselves gathered on the 25th anniversary of the Ceasefire. Old wounds and new griefs arise as former enemies and feuding family members confront one another. When the life and communication systems fail, everyone’s lives are threatened. The group will have to pull together – but can they forgive to survive?
Tickets are free for each showing. For more information, call 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).
Based on the autobiographical novel by Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angelis an acclaimed 1957 adaptation by playwright Ketti Frings. Tracing the coming of age of Eugene Gant, the play is set in the small town of Altamont, North Carolina where Gant’s mother runs The Dixieland Boarding House.
The Meadows production is directed by Benard Cummings, professor of theatre in Meadows School of the Arts. Before returning to his alma mater to teach acting, Cummings performed in regional theaters across the country, as well as Off-Broadway and on episodic television. Additionally, Cummings has taught acting at SUNY-Purchase and Stella Adler/NYU, as well as the summer apprentice company at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.
Tickets for faculty, staff and students are $7 and can be purchased online. For more information, call 214-768-2787. A full cast list can be found below.
Look Homeward, Angel
Dec. 3-5, 2014
Greer Garson Theatre, Owen Arts Center, SMU
Director – Benard Cummings
Scenic Director – Russell Parkman
Costume Designer – Amanda MacArthur (M.F.A. ’16)
Lighting Designer – Janet Berka (M.F.A. ’15)
Sound Designer – Jason Biggs
Vocal Coach – Anne Shilling
Movement Coach – Sara Romersberger
Music Compositions – Derrick Horne (MFA M.M. Composition, ’16)
Music Advisor – Pamela E. Pagels (Music Librarian, SMU Central University Libraries)
Meadows Theatre continues its 2014-15 season with a new production of Caryl Churchill’s 1982 reflection on what it means to be a successful woman, declared by arts writer Mark Ravenhill to be “the best play in 20 years.”
Top Girls, directed by Professor of Theatre Rhonda Blair, will run through Sunday, Oct. 26 in the Margo Jones Theatre, Owen Arts Center. Tickets are $7 each for SMU faculty, staff and students. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early, as there will be no late seating.
Set in early-1980s Great Britain (and influenced by Margaret Thatcher’s celebration of individualistic achievement), the story focuses on Marlene, the newly promoted managing director of the Top Girls employment agency. A tough career woman who has buried her own empathy in pursuit of success, Marlene habitually exploits other women to get ahead – including her sister Joyce, who is charged with tending to their family responsibilities alone. Through their opposing points of view, Churchill critically examines a model of women’s achievement built on attributes traditionally regarded as “masculine” and questions whether it is possible for women to enjoy success in both career and family life.
The play features a famous opening sequence in which Marlene meets notable women from history and myth, including Pope Joan, Victorian traveler Isabella Bird, 13th-century Japanese courtesan-turned-Buddhist-nun Lady Nijo, Patient Griselda from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Dull Gret, the harrower of hell from Flemish folklore. The play also explores the commonalities these historical women have with Marlene and her circle.
Blake Hackler, assistant professor of theatre in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, has been awarded a Fulbright Scholars Grant to conduct teaching and research in Bulgaria.
Hackler will be in residence at New Bulgarian University in Sofia from January through June 2015, where he will teach and direct theatre, focusing on physical acting techniques. He will also observe and work with the Sfumato Theatre Laboratory, an internationally recognized theatre based in Sofia that produces highly physical interpretations of classic plays.
“My research and performance interests explore the ongoing disembodiment of the ‘actor-in-training’ as a result of deepening reliance on technology,” said Hackler. “Eastern Bloc theatre-makers, both pre- and post-Glasnost, have constantly pushed the boundaries of what the physical body can and should be capable of representing. It will be invaluable to spend time training and observing both the students and actors of Bulgaria and learning from them.”
Hackler joined the Meadows School faculty in fall 2011 and teaches four courses, including acting for both sophomores and first-year graduate students; theatre games and improvisation for graduate students; and “Acting in Song” for students pursuing the new minor in musical theatre. He also holds a teaching appointment at Yale University.
As an actor, Hackler has appeared in productions on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theatres throughout the country, working with such acclaimed directors as Michael Mayer, Scott Ellis, Alex Timbers and Mike Alfreds. In New York, he worked with theatres including Playwrights Horizons, York Theatre, The Ohio, and Roundabout, as well as creating the role of Moritz Stiefel in the original New York workshop of the Tony-award winning musical Spring Awakening.
In Dallas, he is a company member at the nationally recognized Undermain Theatre, and has also appeared at the Trinity Shakespeare Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Second Thought Theatre and Theatre Three. Currently, he is the acting coach for comedian Lisa Lampanelli as she prepares her one-woman show, Skinny Bitch, for a Broadway run.
Hackler has taught at Roosevelt University, AMDA, the National Theatre Workshop for the Handicapped, and through the Kennedy Center as an Artist-in-Residence. He also has studied with the SITI Company and its artistic director Anne Bogart and is a member of AEA and AFTRA. He received his M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.
Ten SMU faculty members have received 2013-14 Sam Taylor Fellowships from the Sam Taylor Fellowship Fund of the Division of Higher Education, United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
The Fellowships, funded by income from a portion of Taylor’s estate, award up to $2,000 for full-time faculty members at United Methodist-related colleges and universities in Texas. Any full-time faculty member is eligible to apply for the Fellowships, which support research “advancing the intellectual, social or religious life of Texas and the nation.”
Applications are evaluated on the significance of the project, clarity of the proposal, professional development of the applicant, value of the project to the community or nation, and the project’s sensitivity to value questions confronting higher education and society.
The winning professors for this academic year, and their projects:
• Tim Cassedy, English, Dedman College, for research at the Library of Congress for his book Language Makes the Difference, a history of ideas about language and identity at the turn of the 19th century.
• Michael Chmielewski, Psychology, Dedman College, to study the appropriateness of commonly used psychological tests and measures for diverse populations.
• Michael Corris, Art, Meadows School of the Arts, for interviews and illustration reproductions for his book The Armchair in the Studio: The Engagement of Art and Philosophy Since the 1960s.
• Benard Cummings, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts, for a theatre adaptation of Babette’s Feast set during the Civil War.
• Kate Engel, Religious Studies, Dedman College, for archival research in Great Britain and Germany on international Protestantism at the time of the American Revolution.
• Blake Hackler, Theatre, Meadows School of the Arts, to take part in advanced training with the SITI Theatre ensemble and conduct research on embodied actor training methodologies.
• Andrea Meltzer, Psychology, Dedman College, for a study of newlywed couples and weight-maintenance motivations.
• Lisa Pon, Art History, Meadows School of the Arts, to support reproduction of images for her upcoming book on the Madonna of the Fire.
• Candace Walkington, Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, to build a website containing mathematics problems that are personalized to middle and high school students’ interests.
• Eric White, Special Collections, Bridwell Library, to complete the first comprehensive documentary history of every surviving copy of the Gutenberg Bible, encompassing their discovery, changing ownership and rise in cultural significance.
SMU Provost Paul Ludden has announced the appointment of eight new Faculty in Residence (FiRs) selected in the Spring 2013 semester. The new FiRs join the three “founding FiRs” as the first full cohort to become part of the University’s new Residential Commons (RC).
Faculty in Residence are chosen in a competitive selection process. When the Commons program launches in Fall 2014, each FiR will live in a residence hall and work with student leaders and Student Affairs staff to shape the Residential Commons experience.
Four FiRs have moved into residence halls a year early as part of the Residential Commons transition process: Ann Batenburg, Teaching and Learning, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development; Mark Fontenot, Computer Science and Engineering, Lyle School of Engineering; Robert Krout, Music Therapy, Meadows School of the Arts; and Charles Wuest, English, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.
The full list of faculty members who have been appointed for a 3-4 year term, and the halls where they will take up residence:
Ann Batenburg, Teaching and Learning – Virginia-Snider RC *
Martin Camp, School of Law – Residential Commons 4 (under construction)
Miroslava Detcheva, Spanish – McElvaney RC
Mark Fontenot, Computer Science and Engineering – Loyd RC (under construction) *†
Mark Kerins, Film and Media Arts – Morrison-McGinnis RC
Rita Kirk, Communication Studies – Armstrong RC (under construction)
Robert Krout, Music Therapy – Mary Hay/Peyton/Shuttles RC *†
Will Power, Theatre – Residential Commons 1 (under construction)
David Son, Chemistry – Boaz RC
Tom Tunks, Music – Residential Commons 3 (under construction) *†
Elizabeth Wheaton, Economics – Cockrell-McIntosh RC
* Living in residence during the 2013-14 academic year
† One of SMU’s three original Faculty in Residence, the “Founding FiRs”
Along with the 11 FiRs, 23 Faculty Affiliates were selected and have been working in every residence hall on campus since the beginning of the year. For more information on participating in the Faculty Affiliate program, contact Jeff Grim, Residence Life and Student Housing.
SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts is transporting its art and music into the community as part of a new “Meadows Community Series,” which will present five events in diverse venues throughout Dallas over the fall and spring semesters.
The new series is part of Meadows’ ongoing initiative to engage the community with art, music, theatre, dance and more. Sam Holland, professor and director of the Division of Music at Meadows, says the series is about more than showcasing talented Meadows performers in new city locales; it’s also about inviting the audience members to have an aesthetic experience.
“People don’t come to concerts to learn something, or to be edified, or to be in the presence of greatness,” says Holland. “They come to feel something, to be moved by something greater than themselves. That is what the aesthetic experience is, and that is what we want to provide.”
Three of the events are ticketed, and two are free. Ticket prices range from $7-$13 and may be purchased at the door or online in advance at Vendini.com. For more information contact the Meadows Ticket Office, 214-768-2787 (214-SMU-ARTS).
The association’s 38th annual meeting will feature 10 writers, journalists and performers from various countries in Africa and is expected to draw more than 400 participants from all over the world, including Japan, Australia, Great Britain, France, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States and various African countries.
Participants will explore the theme of human rights in current African art, literature and the visual arts, as well as in the areas of health and political freedom.
Campus events, which are free and open to the public, include the following:
A special screening of the film Quartier Mozart will take place at 7 p.m. Friday, April 13, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. Based on African folklore, it tells the story of a mischievous young girl who wants to know what it’s like to be a boy and has her wish granted by a witch. The film was shown at Cannes, and went on to critical acclaim, winning awards at FESPACO, the Montréal Film Festival, and the Locarno Film Festival, and receiving a nomination for a British Film and Television Award. Jean-Pierre Bekolo, the film’s director, will be on hand to answer questions.
The 70th birthday of award-winning Ghanaian writer and playwright Ama Ata Aidoo (pictured right) will be celebrated with a staged reading from her two plays at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 14, in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The readings are being organized in cooperation with the SMU Theatre program and adapted by Professor Gretchen Smith, head of theatre studies in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.The readings will be followed by the launching of her newest book of short stories, Diplomatic Pounds and Other Stories, as well as the launch of a festschrift in her honor, Essays in Honour of Ama Ata Aidoo at 70. Works by Aidoo, former Education Minister of Ghana, often depict the role of the African woman in modern society. Her acclaimed prose works include No Sweetness Here (1970), a collection of short stories; the semi-autobiographical novel Our Sister Killjoy (1979); and Changes: A Love Story (1991), which won the 1993 Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Africa region. Aidoo has noted that the idea of nationalism has been used by new leaders as a tool to keep people oppressed, according to her biography. One of the most respected and prolific writers from the African continent, her central issues are the legacy of the slave trade, the impact of neo-colonialism on the educated Ghanaian elite, and the notion of exile and African diasporic identity.