'Pera Palas' production ponders 20th century currents in Turkey

rehearsal imageSUNY Oswego’s “Pera Palas” production, opening Feb. 25, will examine how a society molds, and is molded by, changing social, cultural and political views.

Written by Sinan Unel, the play examines three key periods in the 20th century history of Turkey as seen through action in Pera Pelas, a luxury hotel in Istanbul. Director Deanna Downes, who joined the Oswego theatre faculty last fall, tackles the challenges of changing time periods, attitudes and characters.

The world of the harem, the political transitions of the 1950s and the tensions between conservatism and reform in the 1990s are examined through the passions, ideals and fears of the characters.

“The play draws portraits of a variety of characters, from an idealistic English writer to the daughter of a Pasha,” said Mark Cole, professor and chair of theatre at SUNY Oswego. “Unel’s writing stages intense family dramas and the conflicts between and within cultures in the context of political and social change.”

Unfolding in three acts relating to the different eras, the production features several students playing multiple roles. Sometimes different students portray older and younger versions of characters in the time-shifting play.

Those performing multiple roles include Ariel Marcus as Evelyn and Sema; Todd Backus as Brian and Cavid; Sarah Sterling as Adalet, Old Bedia and Old Orhan; Katherine Boswell as Ayse, Old Cavid and Old Kathy; Jessica Quindlen as Bedia and Kathy; Charles S. Smith as a harem woman, Orhan and Porter; Kimberly Saunders as Neyime, Anne and Osman; Kim Greenawalt as Melek and Kiraz; Dan Williams as Ali Riza Efendi and Sir Robert Cave; and John Wolfson as Ipek and a servant.

In addition, Josh Gadek portrays Murat and Jake Luria plays Joe. A harem ensemble consists of Maura Koenig, Stephanie Martinez, Marianne Natoli, Elena Schermerhorn and Courtney Bennett.

The play features scene design by Tim Baumgartner and costume design by Kitty Macey, both of SUNY Oswego’s theatre faculty.

The theatre department is keeping a blog on the production at http://perapalasoswego.blogspot.com/.

“Pera Palas” will preview at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre with all seats $5.

The regular run will feature 8 p.m. curtains Feb. 25 to 28, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on March 1.

Tickets cost $12 ($10 for seniors and students, $7 for SUNY Oswego students). For information or reservations, call 312-2141, e-mail tickets@oswego.edu or visit tickets.oswego.edu.

- END -

PHOTO CAPTION: Crossing cultures—In this rehearsal scene from the college’s current production, “Pera Palas,” British journalist Evelyn Crawley (played by Ariel Marcus) comforts Melek (Kimberly Greenawalt), a member of a harem who fears that her husband and his family will abandon her because of her inability to give birth to a son.

CONTACT: Kelly Cullinan, 312-3097, cullinan@oswego.edu

(Posted: Feb 18, 2009)

Tags: none