Arts & Culture

Fall theater lineup pushes genre limits

Sock and Buskin, PW shows exhibit new works, classic shows with contemporary twists

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Drawing from both the canonical and the avant-garde, this season’s theater lineup will explore the transcendental power of relationships and art’s ability to grapple with timeless issues of identity.

Sock and Buskin will begin the season with a twisted, Occupy Wall Street-esque version of the classic musical horror “Sweeney Todd.” Directed by Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company, this rendition of the play reveals the debauchery of the upper class as narrated through political protesters, said cast member and PW board member Skylar Fox ’15. Driven by a combination of fear and humor, “Sweeney Todd” promises to resonate with audiences’ most basic emotions, Fox said. The show will run Sept. 25 to 26 and Oct. 2 to 5 in Leeds Theater.

Also from Sock and Buskin, “Hype Hero” will play in Stuart Theater Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 and Nov. 6 to 9. Written by Dominic Taylor MFA’95, “Hype Hero” imagines a world in which corporations eradicate debt — with the small condition of lifelong servitude. “It’s a wild, absurd comedic play that looks at the intersections of race and class,” Fox said.

Sock and Buskin will round off the semester with a final deviation from convention in “Heist Play,” written and directed by Fox and scheduled to run Dec. 4 to 7. The play depicts the lives of characters in heist movies outside the context of the heist, and examines the relationship between the creative self and its work, Fox said. “It’s like ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ continued for another three years after the story ended and got really, really tragic.”

Production Workshop is taking this semester’s audiences on sojourns to small-town suburbia, the searing lights of a game show stage and a party in a futuristic world.

Isabel Diawara ’17 kicked off PW’s season with “Going Somewhere: A Game Show,” which ran from Sept. 10 to 13. Diawara wrote, directed and acted in the show, seeking to highlight “escapism as a coping mechanism,” she said.

PW will continue its repertoire with “Almost, Maine,” directed by Marli Scharlin ’16. Set against a quaint backdrop, the play relays neither groundbreaking epiphanies nor revolutionary theories but rather the simple relationships that define life, Scharlin said. Currently in the thick of the audition process, Scharlin said she aims to make audiences see past the play’s magical realism. “Almost, Maine” will run from Sept. 19 to 22, and “may or may not contain a strip scene,” Scharlin said.

In “Song for a Future Generation,” running Oct. 17 to 20, PW will host a “dance party on a space ship orbiting an exploding sun,” said director Grant Glovin ’16. Though the otherworldly futurism may seem alien, the play focuses on issues that hit close to home, raising questions surrounding technology’s rapid advancement and the implications of science from a philosophical standpoint, Glovin added.

Brown University Gilbert and Sullivan injects gothic undertones into the comic opera “Ruddigore,” which will run Nov. 14 to 16. According to director Jonathan West ’16, the plot of “Ruddigore” revolves around a man avoiding a curse that requires him to commit one evil deed a day. Though Gilbert and Sullivan plays traditionally veer toward the comical side, West said he wants “to play around with bringing out the darkness” of the piece, grounding it in modernity through the accessible themes of love and rejection.

Brown Opera Productions will keep its fall performance short and sweet with “A Hand of Bridge,” an eight-minute production that BOP co-chair Mo Akande ’16 said is the “shortest opera ever written.” Performed in English, the opera signifies a transition into a more relatable form of presentation for the genre.

“Opera used to be the pinnacle of entertainment back in the day,” Akande said. “It’s really important for the everyday person to understand where all their forms of entertainment have evolved from.”

“Othello” will invade campus greens Oct. 22 to 26 as Shakespeare on the Green’s fall production. According to director Eleni Mentekidou ’16.5, the age-old play is especially relevant to dialogues many Brown students are raising about gender, relationships and race today. The outdoor set will interact with its surroundings through the jarring image of an ever-present bed on the turf, Mentekidou said, adding that she aims to make the infamously difficult language of Shakespeare “come to life and connect to every audience.”

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