(Ashland, Ore.) – The Theatre Arts program of the Department of Performing Arts at Southern Oregon University offers a season of fable, fantasy and farce from November 2011 through May 2012. Six plays in two theatres are produced during the academic year by SOU faculty, guest artists and over 280 students.
Opening on Nov. 3 in the Center Square Theatre is “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” by Bert V. Royal. A hit at the 2004 New York International Fringe Festival, the play satirizes the Peanuts comic strip by aging its cast of characters into their teenage years. Occupied by teenage angst, experimentation and sexual identity, CB and his friends face questions of morality, the existence of an afterlife and true friendship. This play is intended for mature audiences. SOU professor Kyle Haden directs the eight performances that run through Nov. 13.
Running on the Center Stage Theatre from Nov. 10-20 is Bertolt Brecht’s “The Caucasian Chalk Circle.” Brecht takes a timeless Chinese fable of the struggle of two mothers and the extraordinary judge who must decide the fate of their disputed child and reshapes it by employing the epic theatrical style that is so closely associated with him. Brecht believed theatre should be a force for social change and his experimental play begs the question “musn’t what there is go to those who are good for it?” Guest artist Michael J. Hume from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival stages this musical work against the terrifying backdrop of the Cambodian Pol Pot regime.
In February, Brent Florendo’s highly interactive play, “Raccoon Earns His Stripes,” has its world premiere in the Center Square Theatre. For the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest, winter is the time for stories. Florendo brings to the stage the ancient folklore of the Wasco tribe of the Columbia River Basin and Cascade mountains as told to him by his mother, Alice. Raccoon finds that everything in his world is alive and its inhabitants help him learn about their inherent interdependence with humor, song and dance. Directed by SOU professor Chris Sackett, the young audiences’ offering plays from Feb. 24-March 11.
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” runs from March 1-11 on the Center Stage Theatre. William Shakespeare’s much beloved comedy has delighted audiences for centuries and will do so for centuries to come – a light summer fancy to light up the bleak of winter. Hoping to elope, imperiled lovers Hermia and Lysander flee to the forest of Athens, pursued by Hermia’s jilted fiancé Demetrius and his pining ex-girlfriend Helena. Hi-jinks ensue when the four cross paths with feuding fairy royalty, a mischievous sprite named Puck, and a troupe of overmatched amateur thespians, (mis)led by a vainglorious ass named Bottom. SOU professor David McCandless directs.
Jean-Claude Carrière’s Pacific Northwest premiere of “La Terrasse” opens on May 10. Love is hard, but real estate is impossible! “La Terrasse” (The Terrace) is a wildly funny, absurdist farce of dissolving marriages, job-hunting, traffic jams, and house-hunting in our increasingly disconnected modern life. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong in this comedy of manners – but is anything really wrong? Carrière was recognized with an Academy Award for his screenplay “The Unbearable Lightness of Being.” SOU professor Jackie Apodaca directs the eight performances that run through May 20.
The whimsical 1988 musical, “Lucky Stiff,” closes the season with its run from May 17-June 3. What would you do to fulfill the conditions of a six million dollar inheritance? Harry Witherspoon finds out that the conditions of his late uncle’s will include taking his dead body on a trip to Monte Carlo. He dutifully visits all the sights in town with Uncle Anthony, only to find that he’s being followed by three mysterious strangers. Book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty are based on the novel, “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” by Michael Butterworth, which was inspired by the 1933 film of the same name, which was inspired by the old British Music Hall song of the same name, which was based on the life of the gambler, Charles Wells, who actually broke the bank at Monte Carlo in the late 19th century. This delightful musical farce received the Richard Rodgers Award in 1988. Dennis Smith directs, Vicki Purslow is the musical director and Jim Giancarlo is the choreographer, all SOU professors.
The Theatre Arts program trains talented young students with a hands-on approach as they work on all productions in a variety of assignments as actors, designers, directors, stage managers, technical directors and in all aspects of the business of running a theatre.
Tickets are $21 regular, $18 senior, and $6 for students. Subscribers to three or more plays receive a discounted price of $17 per play for regular subscribers and $15 per play for seniors. Both theatres are located in the Theatre Arts building on South Mountain Avenue in Ashland, next to the Music Recital Hall. For ticket purchases, call (541) 552-6348. For more information, visit sou.edu/theatre.