Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

With the start of a new school year comes an opportunity for reevaluation, and many of the productions on tap for Brown's fall theatre  season will highlight both characters' desires and their inabilities to discover their true selves. Alongside these themes, shows will delve into the fantastic and the religious.
"The Bluest Eye," an adaptation of Toni Morrison's 1970 novel, follows the lives of two black families in the 1940s and one young black girl's desire for blue eyes - the epitome of beauty at the time. The show will run on the Main Stage for this year's Senior Slot production from Nov. 29 through Dec. 2.
"In the 1940s, everyone is obsessed with Shirley Temple," said Jarrett Key '13, the play's director. "So Pecola prays and prays and prays for blue eyes in an attempt to change not only the way people see her but also to change the way that she sees people."
Aside from highlighting Pecola's attempts to grow into herself, the production also deals with sexual initiation, race and religiosity. But Key said it is still an incredibly funny play.
"If you can imagine adolescents talking about how they see life ... how they see family relationships work, how they see racial dynamics working in the 1940s, that can't help but be hilarious," he said.
Production Workshop's "Company," running Oct. 19-22, also follows the story of one man, Bobby, as he attempts to establish his individuality. Director Rachel Borders '13 describes Bobby as a "chameleon" who shapes his personality around his friends and lovers.
By the end of the play, Bobby realizes "he wants company that makes him feel like himself but also helps him define who he is, not in terms of other people, but in terms of his love," she said.
She noted the play should resonate especially well with college students, forcing them to ask, "When you're around different people, do you become a different person or are you always yourself?"
A similar reshaping of a character's personality occurs in "Patience," the Gilbert and Sullivan production running Nov. 16-18. The opera is a satire of the 1800s aesthetic movement in art and poetry, focusing on two poets who adopt "ridiculous and overblown personalities" to impress women, said director Andrea Vela '13.
Vela said she hopes to modernize the production by bringing in some popular modern stereotypes, such as portraying the poets as "that generation's hipsters."
Shakespeare on the Green's fall production, "Richard III," also highlights historical hypocrisy. Despite his manipulative and sadistic personality, Richard is able to charm the audience and the reader, said Director Emma Brandt '14.
"I started thinking a little bit more about the whole role of charm in politics in general, especially because it's election season," she said. "We value a lot of charm in how we elect our presidents. Like, could we have a beer with this guy? You could totally have a beer with Richard III."
 Brandt said the play itself is a form of political spin - Shakespeare was forced to please the ruling Tudor family by portraying Richard III, a non-Tudor, in a negative light. The production follows Richard III's violent path to the throne and his eventual downfall.
 She said she hopes to make the play, which is running two weeks prior to the presidential election, "look as much like a political campaign as possible." She plans to modernize not only the props and costumes, but also to involve the audience in the production by interspersing the actors amongst the viewers, she said.
 "Kiss of the Spider Woman," running in early November, has many violent undertones as well. It tells the story of two men, Molina and Valentin, trapped in a Brazilian prison in 1975. Director Marcus Gardley, visiting assistant professor of theatre arts and performance studies, said the play speaks about the modern-day issues surrounding the prison-industrial complex.
 "In the 1970s when this play was written there were 300,000 men in prison, and now there are 2.4 million," he said. "This system is problematic because it seems to be housing people. It's no longer about rehabilitation."
 Because both Molina and Valentin are imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, he said, the play deals with our phobia of criminals and our tendency to "over-sentence" perpetrators.
 Fantasy as a coping mechanism further comes into play as Molina tells the story of the Spider Woman, a role played by one of Molina's favorite movie actresses. Molina is haunted by visions of the Spider Woman, telling Valentin she is the reason men never escape the prison. Gardley said he hopes to balance these fantastic elements of the play with horror and humor using a minimalist, youthful approach.  
 Fantasy is also a prominent feature in "Yermedea," written by Erik Ehn, professor of theatre arts and performance studies, and directed by Kym Moore, assistant professor of theatre arts and performance studies.
 In "Yermedea," a bus driver guides a Salvadoran nurse on a hallucinogenic journey through the history of their country. "They see their country in terms of two tragedies -- Yerma, about a woman who can't have children, and Medea, a woman who kills her children," Ehn wrote in an email to The Herald. He also noted they plan on using puppets in the production, which he said "make excellent collaborators on a project devoted to contemplation."
 Ehn said he devised the idea for the play after visiting El Salvador in the early '90s, basing the production on conversations he had with theatre artists there.
 "Perhaps the performance will incline hearts and open paths to empathy that will prompt further discussion and research," he wrote. "Ideally, folks will get up and go to El Salvador - it's not far!" The production will run the last two weekends in September.
 PW's "Ordet," running Sept. 19-21, is about a family of farmers involved in a series of religious crises. In order to convey the rich religious themes, Director David Lee Dallas '13 said they are trying to build a church inside PW. He also added some passages from the Book of Revelation to the original script because he wanted "the stakes to feel more real," he said.
 "Faith is a big part of my inner life, but it's not something I ever really talk about to people at Brown because it's not a huge part of the traditional culture here," he said. The play "forces you to have very direct confront
ations with what you believe and what you don't. I just want people to reevaluate their stances and think about religion in an earnest way that maybe they haven't in their college careers yet."


Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.