November 2, 2020

Purdue Department of Theatre announces new plans for the 2020-21 season that explores new forms of theatre-making

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Purdue University Department of Theatre has announced new plans for the 2020-21 season, which explores new forms of theatre-making while maintaining a commitment to produce plays by artists of color and to deliver innovative educational and professional training opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students.

In response to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, the department has reshaped its original production plan to explore new digital formats and flexible ticketing models to maximize safe and equitable access by students and audiences.

For fall semester, the department is presenting an online series designed to educate students and engage audiences on new, digital stages with a focus on advancing social justice and equity. For the spring, the plans are to return to safe forms of in-person staging in the Nancy H. Hansen Theatre and the Carole and Gordon Mallett Theatre in Yue-Kong Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, and to offer digital, livestreamed access to three powerful plays that speak uniquely to the realities of this time.

With required social distancing and restrictions on gatherings and live events, the department is offering memberships in place of a traditional season subscription. These passes provide members with virtual access to all workshops and productions that can be produced safely; invitations to interactive webinars for in-depth discussions with actors, designers, directors, dramaturgs and technicians; and first access to available tickets for any limited public seating that can be offered safely. Membership passes for the full year are $50 for the general public, $45 for adults age 62-above, and $35 for students.

Singles tickets for spring productions will be on sale soon, but memberships are on sale now and may be purchased anytime online or 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday in person at the Loeb Playhouse box office in Stewart Center or by phone at 765-494-3933.

Plans for the 2020-21 season

“In the Blood” Performance Series, Part I: The Plays of Suzan-Lori Parks – Final Class Project: Theatre, Room 536. Rehearsal and performance with Tasia A. Jones, guest instructor and director. In this final class project, students will perform monologues from the play and original material generated as part of an in-depth performance analysis of Parks’ “The Red Letter Plays” and theoretical essays. Performances are the culmination of students’ work in an eight-week course taught by Jones, a Chicago-based professional director, actor and theatre educator. An archived recording of this project from Sept. 25 will be available for a limited time to new members.

Theatre, Virtually: A Festival of 10-Minute Plays for Zoom, Saturday (Nov. 7), curated by Rebekah Freeman (Bachelor of Arts, acting, 2023) and Bryan Montemayor (Master of Fine Arts, acting 2022). Seven new plays for Zoom on the theme “Life in America in These Times,” written by Purdue students and invited playwrights, will be presented virtually. Devised collectively by students, faculty, and staff, Theatre, Virtually is focused on building just and equitable communities through online theatre-making tools.

“Nell Gwynn” by Jessica Swale, directed by William W. Lewis. It’s 1660 in England, and the Restoration of King Charles II has brought theatre booming back to life. Stages across London are bursting with all things bawdy, extravagant and sexy, including the young Nell Gwynn. From a Coal Yard Alley prostitute, to Drury Lane orange seller, to London’s brightest stage star (and one of its first actresses), Nell’s unapologetic humor and fiery spirit win her a place in the hearts of the king and the English public. Winner of the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2016, “Nell Gwynn” will bring Purdue’s theatre stages roaring back to life — and keep the audience roaring with laughter. Mid-February 2021.

“In the Blood” Performance Series, Part II: Mainstage production of “In the Blood” by Suzan-Lori Parks. In this radical retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter,” Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks tells the story of Hester La Negrita, a single mother of five children. Living under a bridge and without formal education, Hester strives to support her children and teach them right from wrong. Through a style she labels repetition-and-revision (influenced by her love for jazz and classical music), Parks dramatizes the social and economic conditions that make Hester’s hopes futile. The play is a stinging critique of American culture and an inescapable call for change. Late March 2021.

“Mother Courage and Her Children” by Bertolt Brecht, directed by Ann M. Shanahan. Considered by critics to be one of the greatest plays of the 20th century, “Mother Courage” chronicles the story of Anna Fierling (named ”Courage”) and her children as they struggle to survive in wartime, selling provisions from a canteen wagon. Despite bravery, honesty and grit, one by one she loses her children to the war. “War, which is a continuation of business by other means,” Brecht wrote, “makes the human virtues fatal even to their possessors.” The play is a powerful example of Brecht’s Epic Theatre, a revolutionary stagecraft designed to focus not on the faults of individual characters, but on social and economic circumstances and the inherent contradictions of capitalism. Mid-April 2021.

For more information, visit the Department of Theatre website.

About Purdue University

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Source: Jodi Taylor, Department of Theatre marketing and outreach specialist,

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