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Appalachian’s Department of Theatre and Dance announces spring season

By Nancye Edwards and Keith Martin

BOONE, N.C.—The Appalachian State University Department of Theatre and Dance will present four shows between Feb. 22 and April 30, in either the Valborg Theatre or the I.G. Greer Studio Theatre on the university campus. Productions include “Silence,” “The Mischief Makers,” “Flight from the Mahabarath,” and a performance by the Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble.

View larger imageTheatre Professor Dr. Paulette Marty continues the department’s season of women playwrights as she directs “Silence” by Moira Buffini. The production will run Feb. 22-26 in Valborg Theatre. Photo courtesy of Paulette MartyView larger imageAssociate Professor of Dance Studies Emily Daughtridge will coordinate the Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble at Valborg Theatre March 29-April 1. The performance features eight original works and includes guest artists Dante Brown and Brad Parquette. Photo courtesy of Emily DaughtridgeView larger imageTheatre Professor Dr. Ray Miller will direct “Flight from the Mahabarath” April 26-30 in Valborg Theatre. Playwright Muthal Naidoo will be in residence to see the first production of her work. Photo courtesy of Dr. Ray Miller

The Spring 2017 season is listed below. To purchase tickets for a performance, contact the Valborg Theatre box office at 828-262-3063, the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts box office toll-free at 800-841-ARTS (2787), or visit http://theatreanddance.appstate.edu.

“Silence” by Moira Buffini
Feb. 22-25 at 7 p.m.; Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.
Valborg Theatre

Spring Appalachian Dance Ensemble
March 29-April 1 at 7 p.m.
Valborg Theatre

“The Mischief Makers” by Lowell Swortzell
Presented by Appalachian Young People’s Theatre (AYPT)
April 21 at 7 p.m.; April 22-23 at 2 p.m.
I.G. Greer Studio Theatre

“Flight from the Mahabarath” by Muthal Naidoo
April 26-29 at 7 p.m.; April 30 at 2 p.m.
Valborg Theatre

Theatre and Dance Department Chair Kevin Warner said the productions showcase the balance and diversity of the department’s offerings, which have been a program hallmark for decades.

“There is literally something for every taste, from the regional premiere of a contemporary playwright and a beloved children’s theatre tale about storytelling to eight original dance pieces showcasing new choreography and the world premiere of a play by a South African writer who will be in residence for the first staging of her work,” he said.

The theatre program at Appalachian will continue its production of an entire main stage season of plays written by women. Dr. Paulette Marty, a professor of theatre arts who chairs the play selection process, gave credit to the three students who served on the committee that helped make this innovation possible. The students, all seniors majoring in theatre arts, were Emily Robinson of Spartanburg, South Carolina; Julia Ridenhour of Indian Trail; and Darius Gregory of Elizabeth City.

“This is really exciting for students and faculty alike,” Marty said. “The theme of how social forces shape our personal identities runs through the season. This is not new – many plays through time have explored this same theme. What is intriguing about this set of plays is that they explore the many clever, deceitful, cruel, loving and delightful ways people subvert those social forces in order to live as their true selves. The plays take us to historical places like a burial mound in Viking-occupied England as well as to imagined places like ‘The Mahabharata.’”

Here are more details about the spring performances:

Sparkling with deliberate clashes of period and style and with nimble physical comedy is “Silence” by playwright Moira Buffini. During the show, Monty Python meets “Game of Thrones” in this dark comedy set in England at the turn of the first millennium. King Ethelred the Unready of England forces fiercely independent Princess Ymma of Normandy to marry a 14-year old Viking Lord named Silence. When King Ethelred turns against the couple, they flee across the countryside with a doubting priest, a mouthy servant and a bloodthirsty soldier who sees visions and yearns to speak telepathically. As violence unfurls around them, these motley souls seek a place where they can escape the restrictions of their society and live as their true selves.

“Silence” is licensed for production by Samuel French Inc. and will be performed under Marty’s direction.

The Appalachian Dance Ensemble will present eight new works of original choreography, including works by guest artists Dante Brown and Brad Parquette. Emily Daughtridge, an associate professor of dance studies, is the ensemble’s coordinator.

While primarily modern in style and form, the pieces programmed for the spring concert demonstrate dance influences from ballet, jazz, folk and pop culture. The movement ranges from abstract to expressionistic. Patrons can expect rhythmic works of sheer physical energy, each exuding the joy of dance.

As for AYPT’s production of Lowell Swortzell’s “The Mischief Makers,” a family comedy, this abounds in what one observer called “magnificent braggadocio, wild foolery, suspense, laughter (and) pandemonium.” The show features Anansi the Spider from Africa, Reynard the Fox from Europe and Raven, a Native American trickster. As the play opens, the three are found perched together sharing a totem pole. As they argue over who among them is the best trickster, they act out stories that best demonstrate their finest acts of trickery.

AYPT alumnus and Theatre Professor Gordon Hensley is directing the Appalachian production of “Mischief Makers,” which is produced by special arrangement with Dramatic Publishing. This will be staged not only at Appalachian but at several schools around the region.

One of the most exciting aspects of the entire season is the world premiere of “Flight of the Mahabarath,” which was written by Muthal Naidoo, a South African playwright of Indian descent. Dr. Ray Miller, a professor of dance studies and theatre arts, will direct the show, which is based on one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Naidoo will be in residence at Appalachian during the show’s rehearsals and performances.

The play looks at “The Mahabharata” from a woman’s point of view, making the epic become a metaphor for the patriarchal society in which women function mainly as adjuncts. During the show, women fly from the epic into a different genre, drama. Their new home is the stage, as opposed to a book.

On stage, they are involved in the process of giving form to their new reality, the play. Two men, also wishing to escape the social conditioning that denies them their identities, join the women in creating the play.

About the Department of Theatre and Dance

The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region.

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 18,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.

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