September 29, 2016

UT's Season Falls Into Place

University Theaters (UT)’s upcoming season embraces the classics. The fall lineup consists of plays by the Bard and reimagined Greek tragedy, but with conceptual twists. This season aims to deliver fresh ideas while championing UT’s commitment to student involvement.

 The quarter opens with Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, produced by the Theater and Performance Studies (TAPS) department under the professional direction of Shade Murray. Running through second week, this 60-minute adaptation of the classic romance is set as promenade theater—in which actors intermingle with audience—and boasts a “never before seen twist.”

Later in the quarter, UT will put on four other main stage productions directed, designed, and performed entirely by students. Second-year Jacob Goodman is director of The Comedy of Errors, produced with Shakespeare troupe The Dean’s Men. “There’s something incredibly unifying and thrilling about building a show with people,” he said. “They want you to put on a show you believe in and that requires a lot of energy and time, but it’s amazing.”         

By setting the show in the early 1930s, Goodman hopes to reenergize the plot with not one, but two sets of twins, a mix-up with a golden chain, and a variety of mishaps surrounding identities. “I thought by setting it in [this time], a point at which Vaudeville had watched itself fall from a very hallowed place in entertainment to a kind of cheaper, outdated form of itself, it would help explore this idea of fluid identity,” Goodman said. 

Iphigenia and Other Daughters, directed by fourth-year Lexi Turner, retells the stories of the daughters of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon in a modern setting. According to playwright Ellen McLaughlin, Iphigenia explores “redefining the concept of history from a female perspective,” and presents an opportunity to revisit and reimagine the Greek myths. 

Another generational tale is told in After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, directed by third-year Megan Philippi. In this show of family drama, politically motivated Emma Joseph grapples with her beliefs when she discovers a long-concealed family secret. As familial turmoil unfolds, Emma must confront her identity.

Third-year Seph Mozes will close the quarter with The Merchant of Venice, a complex comedy with a dramatic edge. Jewish moneylender Shylock loans Antonio a large sum to assist his friend, Bassanio, in winning the affections of wealthy Portia. Mozes’s minimalist production focuses on the tension that develops between characters under the pressures of a market economy. “They’re both very different interpretations of Shakespeare,” said Goodman. “[Mozes] has a fantastic, very subtle and abstract staging of his show, which really highlights the text.”

As students call for greater diversity in perspectives in University life, UT is conscious of its responsibility to be a platform for a variety of stories. Goodman maintained that, despite this season’s focus on Shakespeare, these efforts are alive and well. “The people in UT think theater should be reflective of the world around them,” he said. “The spirit is there—but the outreach and growth of the art produced should always be changing and progressing.”

For more information, visit the UT webpage.