Theatre season focuses on human condition

Comedy, drama, musical offerings and more will fill the playbill for SUNY Oswego’s 2005-06 theatre season.

The season will begin with “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. This Pulitzer Prize-winning play has become a beloved classic in classrooms and on stages across the United States, said Mark Cole, professor and chair of theatre. With the character of the Stage Manager as a guide, the audience is taken through the everyday events of Grovers Corners, N.H., in the early 20th century.

“In the play, Wilder creates the entire life of a small New England town, through a theatrical language which was surprising to audiences when the play premiered in the late 1930s,” Cole said. “An open stage becomes the space in which the audience experiences the routine existence of the town alongside life-changing moments like first love, marriage and tragic loss.”

The college’s adaptation will preview on Oct 18 and run through Oct. 23 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre. The play is recommended for ages 12 and above.

Senior theatre major Brian Heyman will direct “Proof” as the annual student honors production. The Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play by David Auburn explores questions of family responsibility and loyalty with uncompromising honesty and insight, Cole said. The plot centers on Catherine, who has cared for her father, a brilliant but unstable mathematician, as she comes to terms with her own emotional survival, confronts her sister and even finds romance.

“‘Proof,’ dealing as it does with the psychology of creativity, aging and the family dynamic, is an ideal production to include in the ‘Psychology and the Arts’ programming for the year,” Cole noted. It will preview Tuesday, Nov. 15, and run through Nov. 20 in the Tyler Hall lab theatre. The play is recommended for ages 16 and above.

“The Real Inspector Hound” by Tom Stoppard finds two theatre critics settling in to watch a third-rate English country house mystery in the Agatha Christie vein. “The critics, Birdboot and Moon, are drawn in to the mystery in hilarious and surprising ways in this entertaining send-up of the whodunit genre and a witty commentary on reality and art,” Cole said. Stoppard also wrote “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” and the screenplay for the movie “Shakespeare in Love.” 

Recommended for ages 16 and above, the play will preview Feb. 23 and continue with performances Feb. 24 to 26 and March 3 to 5.

Adapted from a Roger Corman-directed 1950s horror/science fiction movie of the same name, “Little Shop of Horrors” re-emerged as an off-Broadway hit in the early 1980s. The college will present the musical version, with book and lyrics by Howard Ashman and music by Alan Menken, which gained wide appeal with a 1986 movie adaptation directed by Frank Oz of Muppets fame.

The story finds a nerdy Faust-like hero selling his soul to an alien plant with an unusual appetite. As in “Faust,” there is a price to pay for fame, fortune and romance. Previewing April 20 with shows on April 21, 22, 29 and 30, it is recommended for ages 16 and above.

“The selection of plays this year offers masterfully told stories that present multiple viewpoints of the human condition. Theatre gives us the opportunity to view, as Thornton Wilder put it, ‘the life of the village against the life of the stars,’” Cole explained.

“The lives we observe in the plays this season affirm the beauty and transience of existence as in ‘Our Town’; offer an intense portrait of family relationships as in ‘Proof’; turn our expectations on their ear in ‘The Real Inspector Hound’; and take us to an exhilarating musical world of comedy and thrills in ‘Little Shop of Horrors,’” Cole said. “Once again we will feature post-performance discussions during the run of each production.”

Additional events will include a staged reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” This one-performance-only event is co-sponsored with the college’s music department.

“There is a long tradition of public readings of this classic tale, which first appeared in print in 1843,” Cole said. “Dickens himself toured frequently performing readings of his stories, ‘A Christmas Carol’ in particular. This performance offers an opportunity to hear Dickens’ superb language animate 19th century London and embody the characters of Jacob Marley, the Cratchits, Scrooge, Mr. Fezziwig and Tiny Tim. Music of the Victorian era, sung by the SUNY Oswego Chamber Singers, will be a part of the performance.”

“A Christmas Carol” will be presented at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, in Waterman Theatre. Recommended for ages 10 and above.

“New Voices 2006,” co-sponsored with the English writing arts department, will feature staged readings of the six winners of Oswego’s student-written 10-minute play contest on Saturday, March 25, and Sunday, March 26, in the lab theatre. Recommended for ages 16 and above.

For ticket information and reservations, contact Tyler Box Office at 312-2141 or
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CONTACT: Mark Cole, 312-2140

(Posted: Aug 03, 2005)