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University Theatre announces 2017-‘18 performance season

Thursday, August 24, 2017

LAWRENCE — The University Theatre has designed another thought-provoking, cutting-edge season. Featuring visiting directors, creative visual effects and a mixture of classic and contemporary productions, the season will broaden one’s perspective and resonate with audiences today.

“We want our students to see reality, not fiction. The world is diverse and complicated, and we need to stop acting like diversity is an issue. Diversity is. Period,” said Nicole Hodges Persley, chair and associate professor of theatre. “The key to creating change is doing, and we are getting closer step by step.”

The KU Theatre season will showcase a sophisticated offering of plays examining the complexity of racial and gender identities.

“This season will provide opportunities for our students to explore the broad spectrum of perspectives, allowing them to develop stronger skills as performers and technicians, and as citizens of the world,” said Hodges Persley. “The KU and Lawrence communities have really responded to our work, and I am very excited and proud of the upcoming season.”

The 2017-2018 season:

Based on the myths of Ovid
Written and originally directed by Mary Zimmerman
Directed by Henry Bial
Oct. 6, 7, 8*, 10, 11, 12, 2017
William Inge Memorial Theatre

Transformations take center stage in a modern reimagining of timeless tales of lovers, gods and kings. Ten episodes, 10 actors and more than five dozen characters explore the range of humanity’s yearning. A winner of Tony, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel awards in 2002, this “instant classic” continues to astound and delight. 

“…And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi” by Marcus Gardley
Directed by Kevin Vavasseur
Oct. 20, 21, 22*, 27, 28, 29, 2017
Crafton-Preyer Theatre

This genre-defying “signature play” by critically acclaimed writer Marcus Gardley weaves together gods and myths from different cultures and times in a distinctively American tapestry. Lyrical, intense and uncompromising, “Jesus Moonwalks” transforms the Civil War into a contemporary epic poem.

“Rhinoceros” by Eugène Ionesco
Translated by Derek Prouse
Directed by Ric Averill
Nov. 11, 12*, 14, 15, 16, 2017
William Inge Memorial Theatre

A man, a plan and a rhinoceros epidemic. A satirical romp that offers insight on totalitarianism, human will and the lure of nonsense. Ionesco’s masterpiece about the dangers of following the crowd will feature designs by Professor Mark Reaney, a pioneer in the use of computer graphics in theatre design.  

“She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Jason Bohon
Dec. 1, 2, 3*, 5, 6, 7, 2017
Stage Too!

Agnes, an assertively ordinary young woman, enters the world of “Dungeons and Dragons” to connect with her late sister she never really knew. Originally produced by Vampire Cowboys, New York’s pioneering “geek theatre” company, this is a comic adventure of resilience and redemption, with a side order of demons. 

Black Box Productions:
“Ashes to Ashes” by Harold Pinter
Directed by Rana Esfandiary
Feb. 16, 17, 18*, 20, 21, 22, 2018

William Inge Memorial Theatre

Nobel-prize winning playwright Harold Pinter’s “Ashes to Ashes” is a haunting two-character response to wartime atrocities and the trauma of memory. It will be paired with another one-act chosen and directed by a KU student.  

“When the Rain Stops Falling” by Andrew Bovell
Directed by Andrew Lewis Smith
March 2, 3, 4*, 9, 10, 11*, 2018
Crafton-Preyer Theatre

In this time-traveling Australian drama that begins in 2039 and ranges back to 1959, family members suffer the consequences of decisions made by previous generations. “When the Rain Stops Falling” raises questions about sustainability and climate change, and it is directed by the associate dean of performance for the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts.  

“Perfect Arrangement” by Topher Payne
Directed by Jim Dick
March 30, 31, April 5, 6, 7, 8*, 2018
William Inge Memorial Theatre

Set in 1950, this new play by rising playwright and screenwriter Topher Payne explores the challenges of maintaining a queer family during the McCarthy era. Based on the early history of the gay rights movement, this acerbic comedy of love and marriage in the U.S. State Department depicts the challenges of being in the closet. 

“Spring Awakening”
Book and lyrics by Steven Sater
Music by Duncan Sheik
Based on the play by Frank Wedekind
Directed by Mechele Leon
April 20, 21, 22*, 27, 28, 29*, 2018
Crafton-Preyer Theatre

In this pulse-pounding rock musical adapted from a controversial 1891 play, young men and women struggle to define themselves within a repressive culture. A smash hit on Broadway and winner of eight Tony Awards, “Spring Awakening” resonates with the adolescent within all of us.  

Unless noted, all performances are at 7:30 p.m. or *2:30 p.m. matinees.

Tickets are on sale now for all shows at kutheatre.com or by calling 785.864.3982. Season tickets for all eight shows are available for $130. Special pricing also available for senior, faculty/staff, and student/child season tickets.

For more information on the University Theatre, visit kutheatre.com or follow @KUTheatre on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.