University Theatre to stage two plays in repertory

Sunday, September 21, 2003

The Kansas University theater and film department and the University Theatre will open the 2003-04 William Inge Theatre Series next weekend with two workshop dramas presented in repertory in the Inge Theatre.

"This is Our Youth" by Kenneth Lonergan will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26, Oct. 1 and 3 and at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Sept. 27. "Fefu and Her Friends" by Maria Irene Fornes will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 29-30 and Oct. 2, and at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Oct. 4.

The performances are a unique opportunity for graduate students in KU's theater program to direct a production in the Inge Series.

"At KU, the acting/directing faculty believes the actor-director relationship is at the heart of our program," says John Staniunas, associate professor of theater and film and artistic director of University Theatre. "Student directors are encouraged to work on plays requiring minimal production values, so their time can be better spent examining the dramatic action of a text and working with the actors to achieve a focused and effective performance.

The productions are called "workshop" because the sets and costumes are meant only to suggest time, place and action. Directors can focus more on developing their communication skills with actors and learning how to create theater on a small budget.

"This is Our Youth" is being directed by Michael Bradley, Concord, Mich., graduate student, with lighting by Nick Mosher, Lawrence junior. The play takes place in March 1982 in a one-room apartment on the Upper West Side of New York City. The story revolves around Dennis, son of a famous painter, and his follower, Warren, who has run away from home and appears at Dennis' apartment with a suitcase full of childhood toys and $15,000 he stole from his abusive dad. The two men spend the next 24 hours in the apartment, pushing cocaine and talking about their uncertain futures.

The drama, originally presented by the New Group and produced by Second Stage Theatre, deals with adult subject matter and contains strong language.

"Fefu and Her Friends," directed by Laura Leffler-McCabe, Shawnee graduate student, with lighting by Mosher, is a play about women, set in New England during the 1930s. Eight women come together at Fefu's house for a fund-raising meeting, and the play involves each woman expressing her unique and complex character.

Written in post-Vietnam America, "Fefu and Her Friends" employs a more feminine circular rather than linear plot structure, and the second part takes place in four different locations to which the audience is taken in groups.