2017-18 IU Theatre and Contemporary Dance Season Announced

April 27th, 2017

Bloomington, IND – Spanning a number of genres, styles, and coming from seven  decades over 400 years, the plays in IU Theatre’s 2017-2018 season share a common element: they all have the power to reflect what it means to be alive now, and to engage the challenges we face in the modern world. The satirical dystopian musical Urinetown, Berthold Brecht’s allegorical The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, the distorted, surreal Machinal, and Shakespeare’s classic Julius Caesar examine timely societal and political issues in a variety of ways, whereas Chekhov’s masterpiece Three Sisters and Broadway hit Peter and the Starcatcher tackle escapism from opposite directions.

At a glance:
Urinetown (2001) Sep 22-30
Three Sisters (1900) Oct 13-21
Peter and the Starcatcher (2012) Oct 27-Nov 4
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (1941) Dec 1-9
Julius Caesar (1599) Jan 19-27
The 2018 Winter Dance Concert: Bodies of Light, Feb 9-11
Machinal (1928) Feb 23-Mar 3
At First Sight: a new play by Aaron Ricciardi (2018), Mar 30-Apr 7
City of Angels (1989) Apr 13-21
New Moves Student Choreographers’ Showcase Apr 27-28

The 2017-18 IU Theatre Season will open with the wickedly irreverent cult-classic musical Urinetown, which mixes a suite of showtunes with searing social satire. This modern musical is set in a dystopian city in which private bathrooms are outlawed and all citizens must pay admission to relieve themselves in public toilets or risk severe punishment from the corrupt, corporate-bought government, inciting a courageous young hero to begin a revolution. Urinetown’s dark comedy, catchy music, and socially relevant themes have made the musical a cult-classic since its premiere in 2001. Kenneth Roberson, who directed last season’s The Drowsy Chaperone, will direct and choreograph the musical.

Urinetown will be cast before students leave for the summer!

Head of Acting and Directing Dale McFadden will bring Anton Chekhov’s timeless Three Sisters to the stage in the first production of the play at IU since 1969.

Three Sisters made its debut at the Moscow Art Theatre in a 1901 production directed by Konstantin Stanislavski, perhaps the most influential theatre theorist in modern history. In its day, this masterful drama redefined the form of theatre, and its probing, complex depth of character still sets the bar for our modern stage. The Prozorov sisters long to leave their country estate and return to Moscow, but they find themselves trapped by financial hardships, tumultuous affairs, and their own inner demons. Chekhov navigates the sisters’ beautiful suffering with gentle humor, warmth, and compassion. “It’s the story of family members who must endure their own lives. It’s touching and sad, but it’s also the truth,” says McFadden. “I’m drawn to the experience of endurance and hope that the play presents.”
MFA Thesis roles: Abby Lee (Masha), Meaghan Deiter (Olga)

Next up is whimsical Broadway play Peter and the Starcatcher, directed by Murray McGibbon, who last directed King Lear, Noises Off and M. Butterfly for IU. Written by Rick Elice and adapted from the 2006 novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, this wildly imaginative prequel to J.M. Barrie’s Peter and Wendy features ingenious stagecraft, music, and theatrical magic. When a young orphan boy’s ship is attacked by vicious pirates, he realizes that the mysterious cargo aboard must be protected at all costs. A small ensemble of actors plays over a hundred roles in this fast-moving and exciting adventure. “We’re using the audience’s imagination… how much can we do with as little as possible? The emphasis is on the actors, and it looks as though its being made up as they go along. It’s got that kind of ‘made-in-your-garage’ feel, and that really appeals to me. It’s brilliant bare-bones theatre,” says McGibbon.
MFA Thesis projects: Alana Yurczyk (Scenic Design)

MFA director Liam Castellan will bring Berthold Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui to the stage as his 3rd year thesis project. Fictional mobster Arturo Ui attempts to gain control of the city’s cauliflower racket through ruthless means in this  heavily satirical 1941 play, a thinly-veiled allegory for Hitler’s rise to power. Set in crime-ridden Chicago, this gangster spectacle shows how easily a tyrant can manipulate the masses, with Brecht’s signature meta-theatrical style serving as a unique framing device. “I’m fascinated by how Brecht uses verse and other facets of epic drama to tell a modern story: how a democracy can slide into dictatorship.  Brecht uses the American “gangster myth” to take a fresh look at one of history’s greatest monsters, seeing through his infamy to explore the actual path he took to gain power,” says Castellan.
MFA Thesis projects: Liam Castellan (Director)

The season’s Shakespeare selection will be Julius Caesar, bringing the epic glory of the Roman Republic to the stage with a treacherous assassination that causes Rome to erupt into a warzone. As a doomed rebellion led by the noble Marcus Brutus and the cunning Caius Cassius unfolds, blood spills and loyalties waver. Underneath William Shakespeare’s rich, rousing verse is a heart-stopping story of betrayal, justice, and political idealism. This will mark the first production of this classic play on the IU Theatre main stage in the department’s nearly 90 years of producing. Julius Caesar will be directed by incoming acting and directing faculty Jenny McKnight.
MFA Thesis projects: Ryan Miller (Scenic Design), Chen Chen (Costume Design)
MFA Thesis roles: Justino Brokaw (Cassius)
, Nicholas Jenkins (Mark Antony)

The 2018 Winter Dance Concert: Bodies of Light will feature new choreography by IU dance faculty as well as esteemed guest artists. This year’s annual event highlights the role of dance as it brings visibility to societal issues and elevates the human condition. Featured guest choreography includes Bill T. Jones’s iconic D-Man in the Water, one of the first works to address the AIDS crisis, and Stefanie Batten Bland’s Germe, a gorgeous fusion of movement and visual design. Choreography by IU dance faculty,  including Elizabeth Shea, Selene Carter, and Nyama McCarthy-Brown, will round out an evening of creativity, thought, and beauty.

Taking the season into the avant-garde, Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal twists the sensational real-life story of murderer Ruth Snyder into a dark, machine-like world filled with faceless aggressors and distorted shadows. One of the flagships of American Expressionist drama, this disturbing 1928 play is a startling condemnation of the confinement of women in a world controlled by men. The play will be directed by MFA director James Nelson in his IU debut. “Machinal is about a resilient young woman who explores the limits of her free will in a society systematically built to keep her silent and oppressed. It’s a haunting play, and it’s one that stays with you once you’ve experienced it,” says Nelson.

New play festival At First Sight, now in its sixth year, will culminate in a production of a new work by MFA playwright Aaron Ricciardi, directed by acting and directing associate professor Ansley Valentine. Ricciardi will go through a rigorous development process for the piece, including public staged readings of early drafts and workshopping opportunities facilitated by head of playwriting Peter Gil-Sheridan.

The festival will also include readings of other works, including a staged reading of a new play by the incoming 1st year MFA playwright. At First Sight is a critical opportunity for IU’s playwriting department to showcase the voices of their emerging writers, as well as a chance for audiences to experience new work in various stages of its development.

Incoming visiting professor in musical theatre Richard Roland will direct the jazz musical City of Angels, by Larry Gelbart, Cy Coleman, and David Zippel. Parallel stories unfold in tandem: in the first, struggling Hollywood screenwriter Stine tries to strike it big with his film noir masterpiece. In the second, Stine’s fictional detective Stone hits the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, trying to crack a case before the case cracks him. With both writer and character seemingly influencing each other’s thoughts and actions, City of Angels comes alive with action, romance, mystery, and most strikingly, a brilliant jazz score.
MFA Thesis projects: Tony Stoeri (Lighting Design)

The final show of the 2017-2018 season will be the New Moves: Student Choreographers’ Showcase, featuring works from IU Contemporary Dance Seniors. Utilizing a variety of choreographic devices, these emerging artists present cutting edge dance works in their final culminating project, integrating sound, text, visual art, and film. Now in its third year, New Moves is a valuable developmental opportunity for student choreographers and an exciting showcase of the next generation of dance artists.

Full Schedule:

September 22-30, 2017
by Mark Hollman & Greg Kotis
Directed and Choreographed by Kenneth L. Roberson
Music Direction by Terry LaBolt
Wells-Metz Theatre

October 13-21, 2017
Three Sisters
by Anton Chekhov
Directed by Dale McFadden
Wells-Metz Theatre

October 27- November 4, 2017
Peter and the Starcatcher
by Rick Elice
Music by Wayne Barker
Directed by Murray McGibbon
Music Direction by Ray Fellman
Choreography by Berklea Going
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

January 19-27, 2018
Julius Caesar
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jenny McKnight
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

February 9-11, 2018
The 2018 Winter Dance Concert: Bodies of Light
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

February 23-March 3, 2018
by Sophie Treadwell
Directed by James Nelson
Wells-Metz Theatre

March 30-April 7, 2018
At First Sight: a new play by Aaron Ricciardi
Directed by Ansley Valentine
Wells-Metz Theatre

April 13-21, 2018
City of Angels
Book by Larry Gelbart
Music by Cy Coleman
Lyrics by David Zippel
Directed by Richard Roland
Choreography by Liza Gennaro
Music Direction by Terry LaBolt
Ruth N. Halls Theatre

April 27-28
New Moves: Student Choreographers’ Showcase
Wells-Metz Theatre

WHERE: Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., Bloomington

TICKETS: Regular admission is $20 for adults, $10 for students.  For more information, call 812.855.1103 or visit theatre.indiana.edu. For group discounts contact Abby Miller at millabby@iu.edu.

For interviews and additional production information, contact Amy Osajima at aosajima@indiana.edu