URI Theater season will take audiences from wicked streets to fairytale woods – URI News


KINGSTON, RI – September 1, 2022 – The University of Rhode Island Theater DepartmentThe next season of will transport audiences from the darkest reaches of the city where “dreamers, dealers and desperadoes roam”, to a 17e London apartment of the last century and the meetings of lovers and spies, to the trials of a young black actress in 1930s Hollywood, and let them delve into the woods listening to the award-winning music of Sondheim.

An ever-diversified range, URI’s season will bring to the Robert E. Will Theater stage entertaining and sometimes amusing contemporary works by award-winning playwrights that are equally compelling to audiences and theater students, on stage and behind.

“Each of our four productions has such an exciting and unique perspective,” said David Howard, Chairman of the Theater Department. “We have a lot of new pieces in production and we will have a lot of new guest artists joining us.”

The season begins on October 13 with 1997 by Naomi Iizuka “Polaroid Stories” which mixes classic mythology with real stories of drugs, violence and money from children living on the streets in the shadows of society. Howard calls it “a very modern, cutting-edge piece that really gets the students excited.”

The play, directed by guest artist Patrick Saunders, features street children whose characters are adapted from Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” an epic poem of mythical heroes and monsters. While the play has a mean street feel of graffiti, trash and concrete, set designer James Hurban explores a setting that acknowledges the play’s abstract connection between mythologically bound stories.

“‘Polaroid Stories’ is the type of piece that can be produced in different ways,” he said. “It’s less strict to dictate the framework. From a design standpoint, what was really important to me in choosing our season was having room to evolve on the spectrum of realistic settings or something more open.

For the second play of the season – Hysterical and historical by Liz Duffy Adams “Or,” which opens December 8 – the theater department is trying something a little different. “Or,” will be the full annual student-directed production, where students fill every job, from actor to director to designer. Instead of being produced on the sidelines of the season, the play will be part of the main productions, allowing students to throw in all the bells and whistles available. Although students have a say in choosing each season’s lineup, “Gold” was selected by senior Sarah Taylor, who will direct the play.

Located in the 17e century, “Gold” is set primarily on one night in the life of Aphra Behn (1640-1689), poet, spy, and soon to be the first female professional playwright, as she tries to finish writing a play while ward off the advances of King Charles II, rub shoulders with a famous actress and test the wits of a former fellow spy, in this door-slamming farce.

“What makes this genre cool is that it will be our period show of the year,” Howard said. “So it gives student designers the opportunity to really explore something that we wouldn’t normally do. We still support our student productions, but this time it’s full. carpenters, stage artists and the costume shop manager, tailors, drapers and embroiderers.

February 23, “By the way, this is Vera Stark” by two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Lynn Nottage will take over Will Theatre. Based on the story of actress Theresa Harris, “Vera Stark” follows the life of a black housekeeper, Gloria Mitchell, as she grows from an aspiring actress in 1930s Hollywood to a star in decline trying to keep his career. The play draws inspiration from goofy comedies of the era to offer an irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood.

The play will be directed by Assistant Professor Rachel Walshe, who directs another Nottage play, “Sweat”, at the Gamm Theater in Warwick. “Lynn Nottage’s work is intensely relevant and human. It’s political but it’s still done in a very clever comedic way,” she said. “If you’re working on a Lynn Nottage play, that in itself is a great season. As faculty members, our job is to provide students with a very diverse experience in terms of the type of plays and the type of styles they work on while still being in the hands of excellent writers.

The season wraps up in the spring with the annual musical – Tony Award-winning and Oscar-nominated “In the woods,” Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s classic reworking of popular Grimm Brothers fairy tales. The play, directed by URI speaker Tracy Liz Miller, opens April 20.

The musical centers on a baker and his wife’s quest to start a family. But they are blocked by a witch’s curse. To undo the curse, they must steal Little Red Riding Hood’s cape, a lock of Rapunzel’s hair, Cinderella’s golden slippers, and Jack’s cow (from Jack and the Beanstalk).

“Anytime we produce Steven Sondheim, it’s very exciting,” Howard said. “His work is intellectual, intelligent, always important and always resonates. It is one of the most complex musical theaters to work on.

Sondheim was a must-see musical for the department’s year-end show, likely because Howard and former president Paula McGlasson are big fans. URI last produced “Into the Woods” in 2004 – when Howard designed costumes and played the baker. (He still sings the score in the shower every day, he said.)

“I’m incredibly sentimental about this experience,” he said. “It was really important to me and it changed the way I work with students in so many ways. It really hit home how invested and hard working our students are. him, share the experience I had with him.

For a full list of show dates and times, go to Season 2022-23 Web page. Tickets for all of the season’s shows will go on sale online September 5. To purchase tickets online and view up-to-date COVID-19 guidelines, click here. Tickets can also be purchased in person beginning September 26 by phone at (401) 874-5843 or in person at Fine Arts Center, Room 101H, 105 Upper College Road.


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