NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — The Fine and Performing Arts (FPA) Department at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces its 2019-2020 Theatre Program season. The lineup will include a postmodern take on a classic musical, a darkly comic fable about family wounds, a deeply complex portrait of a tragic murder, and a classic story of desire, choice, and class warfare.
The season performances will be held in MCLA’s Venable Theatre, and will feature discussions with local experts, casts, and creatives following all second Saturday evening performances. Critical Response Sessions, based on Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process, will be held with audience, cast, and creatives following each production.
According to Jeremy Winchester, assistant professor of theatre at MCLA, “This year’s plays are really about when an individual attempts to buck society’s expectations of them and the consequences they pay when attempting to do that.”
The season will kick off on Friday, Oct. 18 with “Miss Julie,” followed by “Sweet Charity” opening on Friday, Nov. 15, “Topdog/Underdog” beginning on March 6, 2020, and “Laramie Project” running from April 24–May 3, 2020.
August Strindberg’s ground-breaking masterpiece, “Miss Julie,” is brought to life in a new version by David Eldridge, from a literal translation by Charlotte Barslund. The Count's beautiful daughter, Miss Julie, feels trapped and alone, while his handsome and rebellious footman, Jean, feels frustrated with his position. In the course of an evening, a passion is ignited that soon spirals out of control. Strindberg's 1889 work caused such a scandal when first produced that it was banned, but is now popular for its viscerally honest portrait of the class system and human sexuality.
The play offers a psychological realism, says Winchester, but beneath that is working on a metaphorical level, as well, so it’s engaging both the heart and the mind.
“Sweet Charity,” running from November 15–November 24, 2019, is Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, and Neil Simon’s musical adaptation of the Federico Fellini film “The Nights of Cabiria.” A diehard romantic dancehall girl, Charity Hope Valentine, navigates her way through misfortune in life and love. Director and choreographer MCLA Associate Professor Laura Standley brings a postmodern take to the show, highlighting the emotional predicament women in poverty face as they strive for a life of personal freedom, dignity, and respect.
Guest artist Rodney Creech returns to direct the comic drama “Topdog/Underdog,” which the New York Times called “dazzlingly written.” Suzan-Lori Parks’ riveting Pulitzer Prize winner focuses on two brothers, Lincoln and Booth, locked in a battle of wits as quick as their game of Three Card Monte. The pair struggle to come to terms with what it means to be a family man, and an African-American man in the U.S. today. The show will run from March 6–12, 2020.
Wrapping up the season on April 24–May 3, 2020 will be “Laramie Project,” the documentary-style portrait of an American tragedy by Moisés Kauffman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project. In the fall of 1998, Matthew Shepard was kidnapped, severely beaten and left to die, tied to a fence on the outskirts of Laramie, Wyoming. Five weeks later, Kaufman and fellow members of the Tectonic Theater Project went to Laramie and, over the course of the next year, conducted more than 200 interviews with people of the town. From these interviews they wrote the play. Guest artist Sara Katzoff will direct.
For more information or to reserve tickets, please call the box office at (413) 662-5123 or go to https://mcla.ticketleap.com.
The Theatre Program at MCLA develops innovative theatre artists prepared for careers in theatre and graduate study. In the intimate, culturally rich setting of the Berkshires, students hone their craft through intensive studio training and hands-on experience, within the context of their broader liberal arts education. Opportunities for practical experience abound, from courses in acting, directing, design and production to working alongside a faculty of talented professionals in our award-winning production season. On stage and in the classroom, theatre students at MCLA make theatre of the highest quality, as they explore the rich tradition of this unique, multi-disciplinary art form.