Category: drama

Alum to direct University Theatre production, "Clybourne Park"


UGA-Clybourne-Park-2014_0.jpgThe Lorraine Hansberry play A Raisin in the Sun debuted on Broadway in 1959. The title was taken from the Langston Hughes poem "Harlem" (also known as "A Dream Deferred") for a story based on a black family's experiences in the Washington Park Subdivision of Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood. A Raisin in the Sun was made into a film (1961), a musical (1973), and a TV film (1989), and a spinoff production of Hansberry's classic, "Clybourne Park," won both a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Now, "Clybourne Park" comes to UGA in a new University Theatre production beginning September 25:

Directed by Paul Pierce, State Theater of Georgia artistic director and a UGA alumnus, this satiric comedy about race and real estate follows one house over 50 years—from the era of segregation to gentrification.

Winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play, an Olivier Award and the Pulitzer Prize, the play begins in 1958 with homeowners learning that a black family has bought a house in their all-white neighborhood in Chicago, depicting events immediately following those in the classic play. Act two takes the audience to the same house in 2008 as a white family is buying and renovating the house, now in a predominantly black neighborhood, and the roles are reversed.

This reversal provides humor while raising the racial issues associated with historical redlining, fair housing policies and contemporary gentrification. The same actors play the characters in both act one and act two, emphasizing the connection between events half a century apart. Costumes and the décor of the home change drastically while the people and situations remain reminiscent despite the reversal of roles.


Performances will be held Sept. 25-26 and 30 and Oct. 1-3 at 8 p.m. with matinees Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 at 2:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building's Cellar Theatre.

We're glad to welcome Pierce back to campus, and kudos to University Theatre for bringing back a renowned alum to work with our current students. Get your tickets here.

'Mafia on Prozac' production begins July 23


An unusual summer theatre production begins its international run at the university next week:

"Mafia on Prozac," the hit off-Broadway comedy by Edward Allan Baker, July 23-25 at 8 p.m. in the Cellar Theatre of the Fine Arts Building.

The company will move to Atlanta's Hangar Theatre for a performance July 26 from 8:50-9:35 p.m. and then on to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland Aug. 1-2 and 4-9.

The production is a collaboration between two long-time colleagues at separate universities: Ray Paolino, UGA's director of theatre, and Barry Pearson, provost of the State University of New York Purchase College. The two pooled resources to bring a professional-level production to the Edinburgh Festival with Pearson serving as the play's director and Paolino as a lead actor in the role of Tee.

Also on board from UGA is department of theatre and film studies faculty member T. Anthony Marotta in the lead role of Jay; master of fine arts in theatre graduate student Zack Byrd as the stage manager; and alumnus Michael Stille in the role of Matt. The production and tour are funded by the Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, the President's Venture Fund, a Provost's Summer Research Grant and the Purchase College Foundation.

A late July treat that is not to be missed. Get your tickets the evening of each performance at the Fine Arts Theatre box office.

Spring Awakening


Spring-Awakening-Ware-Brockmeier.jpgUniversity Theatre winds up its season with the Broadway musical "Spring Awakening':

[T]he sexually charged rock musical "Spring Awakening," composed by Duncan Sheik with book and lyrics by Steven Sater, on April 10-12 and 15-18 at 8 p.m. with matinees April 13 and 19 at 2:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre.

The production is directed by Richard Garner, co-founder and artistic director of Georgia Shakespeare.

A recent hit on Broadway, "Spring Awakening" adapts German playwright Frank Wedekind's "1891 Spring Awakening: A Children's Tragedy," which was a commentary on the era's climate of sexual repression.

Garner calls Wedekind's work "a landmark play in the history of modern drama that gave us a pained look into the confused youth who had to make their way through a claustrophobic world that denied them a satisfactory understanding of the storm that was raging within their own adolescent bodies."

University Theatre and the department of theatre and film studies announced that the Grammy and Tony award-winning composer Duncan Sheik will be present for the performances and host a Q & A on Friday April 11 after the 8 pm show. A great opportunity to interact with and hear directly from one of the artistic forces behind the musical - a strong way to end up the season, and one that sums up University Theatre's commitment to audience, our students and the community.

Image: Senior theatre major Ashley Ware of Dacula plays the part of Wendla in the University Theatre performance of "Spring Awakening" along with senior theatre and English major Connor Brockmeier of Woodstock as Melchior. (Credit: Kristyn Nucci/UGA)

University Theatre: The Bakkhai


Bakkhai with studentsUniversity Theatre is in session throughout this weekend with a contemporary take on the ancient Greek classic tragedy "The Bakkhai" by Euripides, translated by Robert Bagg:

Performances will be in the Cellar Theatre March 25-30 at 8 p.m. with a 2:30 p.m. matinee March 30.

Tickets are $12, or $7 for students, and can be purchased at, by phone at 706-542-4400, in-person at the Performing Arts Center or Tate Center box office, or at the door before the show.

The original production of "The Bakkhai" in the fifth century B.C. combined drama, dance and music to honor the god Dionysos. The UGA production is directed by Marla Carlson, associate professor in the department of theatre and film studies.

New Orleans-born percussionist and composer Louis Romanos has created an original score for this production, and Carlson has taken on the role of choreographer in addition to that of director.

"Movement structures are developed through rehearsal, with considerable room left for improvisation even within the performance," Carlson said. "Like Dionysos, their rhythms move us as embodied individuals and draw us into a collective response regardless of our rational thought processes."

The ancient is modern this weekend in the Fine Arts Building. Make your plans to attend a performance.

Spotlight on the Arts 2013


spotlight bannerThis year's Spotlight on the Arts kicks off later this week, and in the interest of helping you navigate the tremendous volume of events happening all over campus, here are the events that are most fine-and-performing-arts-centric, in the opinion of your humble Chronicles blog:

The Lamar Dodd School of Art will hold a school-wide open house with special activities in the main building, the ceramics building, and the sculpture and jewelry and metals building on Nov. 7. The school also will present an exhibition by first-year M.F.A. students with an opening reception on Nov. 7, plus a B.F.A. exit show with an opening reception on Nov. 15.

University Theatre will present Pride and Prejudice during the festival, plus matinee performances Nov. 10 and Nov. 17. Directed by theatre department faculty member George Contini, the production features a cast of undergraduate and graduate students. It will be presented in the Fine Arts Theatre, and tickets can be purchased through the Performing Arts Center box office.

The Hugh Hodgson School of Music will present a concert version of Bizet's Carmen by the UGA Opera Theatre on Nov. 14 with an open dress rehearsal ($5 tickets) the previous evening. Other School of Music events include an afternoon concert by the UGA Wind Ensemble on Nov. 10 and an open house that day presented by the Community Music School with performances and an instrument petting zoo. Concert tickets can be purchased through the Performing Arts Center box office.

The Department of Dance will present its annual Young Choreographers Series Dance Concert during the first two evenings of the festival. Tickets can be purchased through the Performing Arts Center box office.

In addition there is a terrific film festival presented by the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts that begins on Nov.15 featuring the work of local favorite Jim McKay. We know the arts never stop in our community - but the festival is a solid reminder of how important the arts are to everyone on campus. See you this week.

Pride and Prejudice at University Theatre


Pride and Prej.jpgIn a semester of great productions all over campus, perhaps the big feature event of the fall begins Nov. 7 when University Theatre presents a stage verison of the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice:

Director and associate professor in the department of theatre and film studies George Contini brings us a fresh new take that captures the novel’s wit and fire. He describes the play as a Regency “rom-com,” and observes that Austen originally wanted to title the novel “First Impressions.” “I’ve always felt that was the stronger title,” Contini said. “It’s one way this story still resonates with modern audiences. Vanity, hypocrisy, pride, and prejudice all continue to play out in our lives as technology offers even more ways for us to wear masks in our interpersonal relationships and social settings.”

Contini sees another modern parallel in the story’s focus on characters’ desire to marry the person they love. “It's an especially relevant theme in the light of recent court decisions broadening the ranks of those allowed access to the institution of marriage. The struggle to balance love and practical matters in marriage also still resonates. And putting on airs to impress others is only amplified in our age of social media.”

And the production is paired with a great panel discussion,

“Lizzie Bennett Then and Now: Adapting Pride and Prejudice for Theatre, Film, and the Web” Tuesday, October 29 at 5pm in the Miller Learning Center. Panelists include: Alexandra Edwards, Emmy award winner for Web Series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, PhD candidate in the department of English; Dr. Roxanne Eberle, author of Chastity and Transgression in Women's Writing, 1792-1897 and associate professor in the department of English

Another component unique to our university theate environment, the panel discussion is terrific opportunity to get inside the transition of the much-loved 19th century novel to the stage, and screen(s). Don't miss these events. Get your tickets now

Image: Production photo of University Theatre's Pride and Prejudice, (from L-R): Emerald Toller as Elizabeth Bennet, Aaron Klein as Mr. Bingley, Sara Chamberlain as Jane Bennet, and Connor Brockmeier as Mr. Darcy. Photo by Kristyn Nucci.

University Theatre present commedia dell'arte classic with 'The Servant of Two Masters'


Servant-of-Two-Masters, man with maskAssistant professor T. Anthony Marotta makes his directorial debut when University Theatre presents 'The Servant of Two Masters' beginning Oct. 7:

Regarded as one of the greatest Italian plays ever written, he said, "The Servant of Two Masters" is in the style of commedia dell'arte, a popular form of street theatre that, for hundreds of years, has featured broad comic characters in masks.

"Commedia characters were living cartoons before the age of film," said David Saltz, head of the department of theatre and film studies. "They seem incredibly familiar to us because the characters and plots are the basis for many of today's television sitcoms."

Recent successful productions both on Broadway and London's West End have renewed interest in the play, which centers on the character of Truffaldino. In a never-ending search for more food to put in his belly, he takes two jobs as the servant of two masters.

We cannot repeat enough what an immense privilege we have in the cultural offerings on campus. Live professional theatre is but one of these, but a treasured one it is. This production, updated with a 'steampunk' set, runs Oct. 7 through 11 and 13 at 8 p.m. with a matinee performance Oct. 13 at 2:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Building Cellar Theatre. Book your tickets now.

Image: Freshman Theatre Major Brad Burnham performs as Truffaldino. photo by Kristyn Nucci.

81st University Theatre season begins with 'Doubt'


Doubt, two nuns and a priest in costumeUniversity Theatre kicks off its 81st season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning 'Doubt: A Parable' on Sept. 19:

"Doubt" is set in 1964. In a parallel with the present moment, new Pope Paul VI is shaking up the Catholic church by pushing a series of reforms, reaching out to other faiths to make the church more inclusive and vowing to "clean house" in the Vatican.

At St. Nicolas Catholic Church and School in the Bronx borough of New York City, conservative principal Sister Aloysius, played by department of theatre and film studies associate professor Kristin Kundert-Gibbs, begins to suspect the progressive Father Flynn, played by masters of fine arts performance student Zack Byrd, has having improper relations with one of his male students. To complicate matters further, the boy is the school's first African-American student.

We are tremendously fortunate to have such a dynamic theatre program on campus. From audiences to the student experience on stage as well as behind the scenes, very few programs offer the range of quality drama that is the stock-in-trade of University Theatre. Don't miss this season opener and have a look at what the rest of the year has in store. Buy your season tickets now.

Image: cast of "Doubt: A Parable" includes Zack Byrd as Father Brendan Flynn, Jessica Kovalski as Sister James and Kristin Kundert-Gibbs as Sister Aloysius Beauvier, courtesy of University Theatre.


What makes patriotism? Theatre explores issues in 'Under Construction'


Miller_American flag on tinUniversity Theatre's 80th season continues with Charles Mee's "Under Construction," a play that explores the controversial issues that define and deconstruct what it means to be American, March 21-23 and 26-28 at 8 p.m. in the Cellar Theatre with a matinee performance March 24 at 2:30 p.m.

"Under Construction" is part of American playwright and historian Charles Mee's "the (re)making project," an online resource that strives to rearticulate historical narratives via performance research. Mee's project encourages directors to freely pillage his plays as he has "pillaged the structures and contents of Euripides and Brecht and stuff out of Soap Opera Digest," engaging in a process of making and remaking challenging works of theatre.

Directed by C.A. Farris, a doctoral candidate in the department of theatre and film studies, this production of "Under Construction" incorporates original poetry, a women's barbershop quartet, experimental movement and a medley of humorous and provocative scenes that explore historical and up-to-date questions about who and what constitutes the American public.

Tickets here.

Image: Flag on Tin by the late great friend of the blog from just up the road in Gainesville, R.A. Miller.

Robots and live theatre


David Saltz, head of the department of theatre and film studies, and assistant professor Anthony Marotta are presenting a paper this weekend at the International Conference in Commedia dell'Arte at the University of Windsor, Ontario.

Their paper, A 21st century huminoid robot, becomes a commedia performer, details a project that brings together several UGA units that we've written about previously when it was performed for the public back in December. This is a truly interdisciplinary project that has garnered a lot of attention for its innovative integration of technology and art, including in the New York Times. It's sure to be a hit at the conference, for which we put together this short video from the December performance.