Welcome to the 2019-20 Season!
Once again, our skilled faculty directors, designers, dramaturgs, stage technicians and performers will be working together with our talented students to create a wide range of exciting, vital, diverse and socially responsible theater produced in our wonderful theatrical spaces here in Robinson Hall.
Productions are at the heart of our B.A. curriculum, centered on providing students with a deep, connected, challenging and exciting learning experience—one that will further their academic and artistic goals and help them to build the skills necessary for a career in a variety of performance-focused professions. An important component of the production curriculum is exposure to a diverse range of plays and performance work. This year we are especially proud to include plays by three leading contemporary playwrights (including two women and two African American writers), a classic of the American musical theater, and our TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) Laboratory featuring fresh stage material from both established and emerging writers/devisors.
First up is our workshop production of Dominique Morrisseau’s Detroit ’67, a powerful exploration of the race riots that ravaged the city of Detroit told in the context of an intimate family story and set to a vibrant soundtrack of late sixties Motown hits. Morrisseau’s incisive exploration of our nation’s ongoing struggle with racial equity won the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History.
Our second production is Obie-award winning playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ Everybody, a modern riff on the 15th century morality play Everyman. Jacobs-Jenkins’ humorous and laser-sharp analysis of our relentless search for the “meaning of life” cleverly and playfully disrupts many of our cultural and theatrical conventions (including allowing the audience to have a hand in recasting the role of Everybody for each performance!). Everybody was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2018; The New York Times call Jacobs-Jenkins “one of this country’s most original and illuminating writers.”
In February we offer award-winning playwright Caryl Churchill’s Far Away, a dystopian elegy depicting a world where everyone is at war, and not even the birds in the trees or the river that runs below can be trusted. One of the contemporary theatre’s most important voices, Churchill (author of Top Girls and Cloud Nine) once again stretches the parameters of theatrical storytelling while pushing us to witness and address the global consequences of the abuse of power.
We continue the spring semester with the debut of our TYA (Theatre for Young Audiences) Lab, a new experimental platform for encouraging innovation, risk-taking, coalition-building and community connection around the intersection of young people (as both theatre-makers and audience members) and theatre. This year’s theme is JUSTICE?—audiences can expect a program of provocative, inclusive and deeply felt work.
And, finally, our year ends with a lush production of the Broadway hit Pippin. This time-bending musical (Music and Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and Book by Roger O. Hirson) tells the story of an actor named Pippin in search of a place in the world. Replete with its classic score and big dance numbers, our production also infuses new energy with contemporary circus arts and aerial performance and plenty of magic (of both the theatrical and sleight-of-hand varieties!). A multiple Tony Award winner when it debuted in 1972 and again for the 2013 Broadway revival, Pippin is a big-hearted tale of adventure and self-discovery.
The Department of Theatre is committed to offering our students and members of the surrounding community thought-provoking and entertaining approaches to a wide range of theatrical performance, from the classics to contemporary interdisciplinary work. We encourage all of you to explore and engage with our performances and special events and opportunities, including post-show discussions, master classes, workshop opportunities, guest lectures, theatre-going excursions, internships, and production-related apprenticeships.
See you at the theatre—backstage, on-stage and in the house!
Lynne Conner, Chair of the Department of Theatre