Monthly Archives: March 2011

April 1 & 2: Honors Dramaturgy Thesis of Isa St. Clair

Please join us for a staged reading of Isa St. Clair’s mlle., directed by Rebecca Wright with Eva Amesse ’11, Nell Ban-Jensen ’11, Jessie Cannizzaro ’12, Nolan Gear ’12, and Ben Hattem ’12.  April 1st and 2nd at 7PM in the Frear Ensemble Theatre.

This play is an adaptation of Theophile Gautier’s 1834 novel Mademoiselle de Maupin and tells a story of disguise, desire, and a very tangled love triangle. The play explores gender, sexuality, Shakespeare, Romanticism, and the farce we all make of ourselves.

When Theophile Gautier published the novel Mademoiselle du Maupin in 1834, Paris flew into uproar. Polite society swiftly condemned the lascivious novel in public and eagerly devoured it in private. For though it was the height of the Romantic movement in France, no one had yet produced such an admixture of hedonism, romance, ars gratia artis, and a revolutionary treatment of gender and sexuality as Gautier did in Mademoiselle du Maupin. Throughout the novel (and the play), the multivalent characters discover and rediscover their own gender identities and sexual preferences/performances, displacing sexual norms and (self-) constructed identities. As reader or audience, we are never quite sure if we are seeing masks or faces, if we can access an essential truth regarding these characters and their desires, or if that truth exists at all.

The nimbus of controversy surrounding the novel persisted for decades; Mademoiselle du Maupin was the subject of an American lawsuit over its alleged obscenity as late as 1922. But its fame – or infamy – has waned in the intervening years, and Gautier is, in fact, little remembered outside of France. Indeed, the material that made the novel so shocking and forward-looking upon publication is no longer particularly progressive and actually somewhat problematic; Gautier was a revolutionary 1834, but is a little outmoded in 2011. If controversy stems from the piece today, it is because of the novel’s outdated attitudes regarding “acceptable sexuality,” its implicit reinforcement of the gender binary, and its inherent anxiety regarding issues and identities that have since gained more acceptance (though imperfectly) in today’s world. In this play, I have tried to access these issues through the Romantic vocabulary (linguistically and ideologically) in which they were written; the result for mlle. is a play in which the line between between performance and reality, masks and faces, then and now, is hopefully even more tenuous than it was in 1834.  –Isa St. Clair ’11 (April 2011)

George Bernard Shaw s FARFETCHED FABLES opens 3/25

The Department of Theater presents George Bernard Shaw’s FARFETCHED FABLES, Directed by Lars Jan on March 25th and 26th, 2011 at 8PM and March 27th, 2011 at 3PM in the LPAC Cinema. The six-part FARFETCHED FABLES, an often dismissed and rarely staged late work by George Bernard Shaw, was penned in 1950, the playwright’s ninety-third year, and is radical in its anarchic interplay of ideas.

Eugenics, global chemical warfare, genetic engineering, the possibility of non-corporeal consciousness, and the fundamental problem of education all surface and sink in this complex, brief, and very messy “play.” Created in an era defined by the televised clowning of both Lucille Ball and Joseph McCarthy, FABLES has inspired the creative team to draw on these and other sources to construct a dramatic scaffold around Shaw’s off-kilter text. A teleplay by design, this production posits the FABLES as censored television broadcasts from back in the days when television was almost always live. Dramatically reenacted before our “live studio audience,” the FABLES are tested, framed and interpreted by a focus group team interacting directly with the audience.

Lars Jan, the director, is also a designer, writer, and media artist.  He is the founding artistic director of Early Morning Opera, a multi-disciplinary art lab based in Los Angeles that specializes in live performance. Lars is a 2000 graduate of Swarthmore College and completed his MFA in Directing and Integrated Media at CalArts with the support of a Jack Kent Cooke Fellowship.  Lars is the recipient of the 2008 Sherwood Award, granted by Center Theatre Group to an innovative theatre artist in Los Angeles.  He has created new work and taught in residence at Princeton University’s Atelier Program as well as at Mount Holyoke, Swarthmore, and Amherst Colleges.

Production Ensemble 2011 members perform in multiple roles, control the cameras, choreograph movement and otherwise conjure the world of the play both on “stage” and behind the scenes. Collaborators include:  Lori Barkin ’12, Sebastian Bravo ’13, Jessica Cannizzaro ’12, Ryane Disken-Cahill ’12, Michael Edmiston ’12, Michelle Fennell ‘12, Katie Goldman ’14, Jamila Hageman ’13, Jeannette Leopold (Haverford) ’13, Meryl Erica Sands ’13, Sam Shuker-Haines ’14, Marina Tucktuck ’13, and Elliot Weiser ’13. Scenic & Costume Design is by Laila Swanson, Lighting Design by James Murphy, and Sound Design by Louis Jargow ’10.

The performances are free and open to the public without advance reservations. For further information, contact Tara Webb at call 610-328-8260.

Alumni in the News: Quinn Bauriedel, Class of 94!

Quinn Bauriedel ’94

Cofounder and co-artistic director of the renowned Pig Iron Theatre Company, and director of the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, a two-year program set to open in October.

Quinn is #20 on the New Faces of Philly feature in Philly Mag!