Music, mirth and mythology comprise Brandeis Theater Company season
WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis Theater Company (BTC) announces it 2008-09 season, featuring two original literary adaptations, Pulitzer Prize winner Stephen Sondheim’s first musical and a new translation of the Greek tragedy "Hecuba." The new season welcomes a new class of 10 MFA actors and six new MFA designers to work alongside the current BTC members comprised of faculty, staff, guest artists and students to create cutting-edge theater with high emphasis on multi-culturalism and strong production values.
“When I look at the four protagonists in this season’s plays, I see four individuals needing and seeking more from their lives – more meaning, more wealth, more status, more justice. What is most interesting to me is the way they attempt to fulfill their desire, and the degree to which they succeed and fail,” said Eric Hill, the Barbara '54 and Malcolm L. Sherman Professor of Theater Arts and BTC’s artistic director. “Of course, having the works of great artists like Stephen Sondeim, Edith Wharton, Hermann Hesse and Euripides to tell these stories is deeply rewarding for me.”
The season opens Oct. 16 with “Saturday Night,” based on the play “Front Porch in Flatbush” by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein. This light-hearted musical comedy occurs over three successive Saturday nights in 1929 in Brooklyn where an ambitious group of young men find themselves restless and “date-less.” Gene, a Wall Street runner in the stock market frenzy before the crash, has dreams that reach beyond Brooklyn that drive him into deceiving Helen, who has secrets of her own, and luring his friends into the financial foolishness of the time.
“Saturday Night” is directed by Hill and features music and lyrics by Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Sondheim. Sondheim penned his first musical in 1954 based on the play “Front Porch in Flatbush.” However, it was never publicly performed until 1997 and received its New York premiere in 2000. The BTC production is made possible through generous support from the Robin, Barbara and Malcolm L. Sherman Endowment for the Performing Arts.
Famed theater critic George Jean Nathan once wrote, “theater is what literature does at night.” Edith Wharton’s novel “House of Mirth” serves as the inspiration for the dance play “Tea and Flowers, Purity and Grace,” beginning on Nov. 20. This adaptation is created and choreographed by Susan Dibble, the Louis, Frances and Jeffrey Sachar Professor of Creative Arts.
Wharton offered that “society is a revolving body” and young socialite Lily Bart learns this quickly. Lily brings her beauty, ambition and cunning to bear on her attempt to climb New York’s social ladder by arranging an advantageous marriage for herself, as is expected by custom and society. However, all of her efforts are thwarted by her own desire for a life of luxury and greed. Wharton’s characters are re-interpreted in this Tableaux Vivant-inspired work of 24 dances combining dance, movement and music ranging from Chopin and Satie to Ragtime and Laurie Anderson. Providence-based actor Nigel Gore will perform the role of the narrator and Merry Conway reprises her role from the original 2005 production at Shakespeare & Company as Mrs. Julia Penniston.
Starting on Feb. 5, a whimsical and poetical adaptation of Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha,” and some of his other writings opens in the Laurie Theater. The story of Siddhartha is well known, but its origins from the mind of Hesse owe much to his analyst Carl Jung and his collective unconscious theory of mankind. Hesse tells the story of the young Siddhartha’s journey into manhood and enlightenment as he explores the world and discovers himself. With the help of Jung, Freud and three Hindu goddesses, Hesse finds parallels between himself and the man who would become a Buddha. “Siddhartha” is part of a yearlong focus on the history, culture and influence of India in a program sponsored by the Brandeis Office of Global Affairs. A guest director for “Siddhartha: A Jungian Fantasy in Three Movements with Prelude” will be announced shortly.
“Hecuba” will conclude the BTC season, beginning on April 2. Euripides’ compelling story of one woman’s devotion and revenge gets a new translation in this production. At the end of the Trojan War, the Greeks are unable to return home until the ghost of Achilles receives the sacrifice he demands: the death of Polyxena, daughter of the now enslaved former queen of Troy, Hecuba. Hecuba grieves the loss of her daughter and vows revenge for the death of her son Polydorus at the hands of the King of Thrace, Polymestor. Hecuba and her women plot their retaliation for her loss since justice is no longer an option in their conquered, weakened state.
The production is made possible through generous support from the Jaffe Foundation, the Herbert and Kim Marie Beigel New Play Fund, and the Ann ’56 and Clive Cummis Family Foundation.
*Media note: The Brandeis Theater Company welcomes media coverage, but our performances are not open for critical review.
About the Brandeis Theater Company
Created in 2005, the Brandeis Theater Company is a model for training theater artists that is unique in the Boston area. The company is an ensemble of students, guest artists, faculty and staff of the Theater Arts Department committed to producing progressive, dynamic programming.
Location and Tickets
Brandeis Theater Company productions are performed in the intimate theaters of the Spingold Theater Center, located on the Brandeis University campus at 415 South St. in Waltham, Mass. Tickets are available at the box office or by calling 781-736-3400. For directions and more information, visit www.brandeis.edu/btc. Single tickets go on sale Sept. 2 via Internet ticketing at http://go.brandeis.edu/BrandeisTickets and by telephone at 781-736-3400, option #5.
Thursday Preview at 8pm - $16
Friday Opening at 8pm - $20
Saturday at 8pm - $20
2nd Thursday at 8pm - $18
2nd Friday at 8pm - $20
Saturday Matinee at 2pm - $18*
2nd Saturday at 8pm - $20*
Sunday Matinee at 2pm - $20*
“Tea & Flowers, Purity & Grace” and “Hecuba” will each perform for one week only. They will follow the schedule and pricing structure of second week performances, including Saturday and Sunday matinees.
Book by Julius J. Epstein
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Based on the play “Front Porch in Flatbush”
By Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein
Directed by Eric Hill
Lighting Design by Michael Jarett, MFA ‘07
Musical director Matthew Stern, ‘08
Choreographer Hannah King, ‘07
“Tea and Flowers, Purity and Grace”
A dance play based on Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth”
Created and choreographed by Susan Dibble
Featuring Nigel Gore and Merry Conway
“Siddhartha: A Jungian Fantasy in Three Movements with Prelude”
By Hermann Hesse
Adapted by Eric Hill from the novel “Siddhartha” and other writings by Hermann Hesse
Translated by Eirene Visvardi, Brandeis Kay Fellow and Leonard Muellner with his students
Adapted by Eric Hill and Eirene Visvardi
Directed by Eric Hill
Featuring Janet Morrison as Hecuba