Theatre season at SUNY Oswego to launch with 'Clybourne Park'


September 14, 2017

A Pulitzer Prize-winning play about the racial politics of gentrification, a comedy about a '60s womanizer, a Tony-winning musical comedy about having to pay to use a bodily function and a staged reading dealing powerfully with sexual assault comprise the raw materials for the SUNY Oswego theatre department's 2017-18 presentations.

The lineup features the theatre department's "Clybourne Park" in October, the Student Honors Production of "Boeing Boeing" in late November and early December, the theatre and music departments' adaptation of "Urinetown" in April, and a staged reading from participants across campus for "Not Someone Like Me" the last day of April.

"Several of these productions are laced with satire, so there's an opportunity for some discussion -- social commentary -- on the plays," said interim theatre chair Jennifer Knapp. "We are very excited about the season."

The SUNY Oswego theatre department's presentation of Bruce Norris' "Clybourne Park," directed by faculty member Henry Shikongo, deals with the politics of race and community.

The play explodes in two acts, the first of which is set in 1959. Two white community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act Two is set in the same home in the present day, as the predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.

There is a deaf character in the play, Knapp said, and a signed matinee performance will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29, in Waterman Theatre. A panel discussion at 11:30 a.m. that day will examine parallels between "Clybourne Park" and -- due at Syracuse Stage this spring -- "A Raisin in the Sun." Panelists will include Bob Huff, artistic director of Syracuse Stage; Ithaca College theatre faculty member Cynthia Henderson; and SUNY Oswego English and creative writing professor Pat Clark, who also is associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Evening performances of "Clybourne Park" will take place Oct. 19 to 21, 27 and 28, all at 7:30. Tickets are $15. As with all theatre department productions, they are available at all SUNY Oswego box offices, online at or by calling 315-312-2141.

French farce

The student Blackfriars Theatre Organization will present "Boeing Boeing," a classic French farce written by Marc Camoletti and translated for the English-speaking stage by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans. It features the womanizing Bernard, who has Italian, German and American fiancées, each a beautiful airline hostess with frequent "layovers." He keeps them apart until unexpected schedule changes bring all three to Paris -- and Bernard's apartment -- at the same time. A production of "Boeing Boeing" won a 2008 Tony for Best Revival of a Play.

"A lot of slamming doors, a lot of physical comedy," Knapp said of the play, directed by senior theatre major Megan Hickey. A New York Times critic called an earlier production "a loud slapstick romp" that has "no earthly right to be as funny as it is."

"Boeing Boeing" will run at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 1 and 2, with a matinee finale at 2 p.m. Dec. 3 -- all in Tyler Hall's lab theatre. Tickets are $15 ($7 in person for SUNY Oswego students with a current ID).

Social commentary

The spring's marquee musical comedy, "Urinetown," would seem to paint a disturbing picture just with its title, but Knapp said the award-winning play by Mark Hollman and Greg Kolls uses its premise to skewer "corruption, hypocrisy and greed in public life." It's a satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself.

The play opens as a water shortage, provoked by a 20-year drought, leads to a government-enforced ban on private toilets, forcing people to visit pay-per-use public amenities run by a profit-grabbing, malevolent company led by an evil CEO.

"The citizens rise up in revolt, saying that what the company calls 'a privilege' is in fact 'a right'," Knapp said. Broadway World called the play "rousingly funny" as satire -- "a fairy tale gone to extremes."

Theatre faculty member Jonel Langenfeld will direct; Bob Allen of the music department is the music director.

Shows will take place at 7:30 p.m. April 19, 21, 26 and 27, with a 2 p.m. matinee on April 28. Tickets are $15.

Breaking silence

Theatre faculty member Mya Brown will direct a staged reading of Susan Rice's "Not Someone Like Me" at 7 p.m. Monday, April 30, in Sheldon Hall ballroom. The performance is an extension of Nancy Raine's "After Silence," along with testimony and interviews of assault survivors.

Students and employees from around campus will deliver monologues drawn from the experience of physically, mentally and sexually abused victims, their journey and their resilience in the face of adversity. "It's an all-female cast," Knapp said. "It's very serious about victims of physical and sexual violence and how they are coping and managing with these experiences."

Sharisse Tracey, a rape survivor and inspiration for one of the characters in the play -- she wrote about her ordeal for Salon magazine -- plans to attend. So do the college's Title IX coordinator, Lisa Evaneski, and representatives of the college's Counseling Services Center, who will be on hand to speak privately with anyone who feels the need to speak with someone after the performance.

The one-evening staged reading is free but ticketed. Visit for more information.