My husband James enjoyed a rare and simple pleasure this weekend when I left him with fresh copies of the Sunday papers so I could head out to the grocery store. It seemed the least I could do after seeing him stare at a bowl of cereal for which there was no milk.
When I returned, he handed me a lovely stack of papers that looked nothing like the pile he inherits from me most Sundays. Lopsided ads strewn about by our sometimes-frugal ASU student. Crossword puzzles ripped from arts sections so only half of most articles remain.
But most appreciated was The New York Times insert from the ASU Herberger Institute’s School of Theatre and Film — which details their 2010/2011 MainStage Season. Lizabeth and I enjoyed reviewing it together — over cereal complete with milk.
The School of Theatre and Film describes the season, which features seven plays and a student film festival, as “action-packed and innovative.” A central theme is exploring “the relationships that bind people together.”
The School’s director, Guillermo Reyes (also artistic director of the MainStage Season), says the season is “filled with contemporary and original works” focused on our relationships with “one another, our families and even our enemies.”
For those of you who missed it when we first announced the upcoming season, here’s a look at the many thoughtful works they’ll be presenting…
26 Miles by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Hudes wrote the book for the Tony Award-winning musical “In the Heights” (performed last season at ASU Gammage featuring composer and lyricist Lin Manual Miranda in the role he originated on Broadway). It’s a “coming of age dramedy” in which a Cuban-American teen explores her ethnic identify while taking a road trip with her estranged mother. I’m eager to experience the work, directed by Jerry Ruiz, with an eye to issues of both borders and boundaries. October 2010.
Big Love by Charles L. Mee. Kim Weild directs “an extavagent retelling of one of the oldest plays in Western history.” Picture “50 Greek sisters escaping by boat from what might be the world’s largest arranged marriage” — then imagine the tragedy, of Greek proportions, that ensues. I’ll be watching this with fond memories of my own ill-fated trip to see the tiny Greek isle of Patmos. November 2010 (contains nudity).
Allegra by Asher Wyndham. William Partian directs this MFA playwriting candidate work about a television newscaster who learns her unborn child might have Down Syndrome — then “grapples with the decision of whether to keep her unborn baby.” I suspect my experience with this work will be influenced by my many encounters with mothers, including Gina Johnson of “Sharing Down Syndrome Arizona” and Amy Silverman of “Girl in a Party Hat,” who parent children with Down Syndrome with both grit and grace. December 2010.
Dreaming Darwin by Lance Gharavi and Jacob Pinholster. This workshop production, directed by Gharavi, is a new work created when these two professors “assembled a team of ASU student artists” to explore Charles Darwin as a “fantasy on a theme.” It’s the next stage in the evolution of the work, presented last season as a staged reading. I may experience this as a sort of intersection of my three children’s interests — wildlife biology, cultural anthropology and theater arts. February 2011 (just in time to celebrate Darwin’s birthday).
A Bridge to the Stars by Henning Mankell (adapted by John Retallack). This work, a “poignant and soulful tale of a boy’s search for family, community and meaning,” is set against the “endless night” of a mythical Scandinavian village. I’ll be seeing this one with fond memories of long days and nights, as well as “northern lights,” during my childhood years in Alaska — plus college travels to cold, crisp and clean cities in Scandinavian countries. March 2011.
“The Skriker” by Caryl Churchill. This fantasy, directed by Joya Scott, “depicts a fairy underworld that has begun to bleed into our own” as a shape-shifting ghost “befriends, manipulates and attempts to control two young women.” The piece features “rich, evocative language…brought to life through movement and music.” I suspect I’ll watch this one feeling ever so grateful I’m not at home in front of a television series toying with tacky variations on similar themes. April 2011.
In the Penal Colony by Christian Krauspe. Kyle Lewis directs this adapatation of Frank Kafka’s original short story by an MFA playwriting candidate. The work explores the “the boundaries of punishment, loyalty, morality and tradition.” I’m not sure what I’ll take along when I see this work, but I don’t doubt that I’ll come away with something altogether more profound. April 2011.
Of one thing I am certain. The only thing sweeter than relaxing with a copy of The New York Times on Sunday morning is opening the paper to find more exciting news about ASU arts offerings — along with knowing I’ll be able to enjoy them firsthand as their new seasons of theater, film, music and dance unfold.
Note: The ASU 2010-2011 MainStage Season also includes the 6th Annual ASU Student Film Festival — taking place at the Harkins Valley Art Theatre in Tempe April 25 and 26, 2011. The event features “the best student films produced within the school, and features a 10-minute film competition sponsored by the ASU Film Association.” To learn more about season performance locations and ticket prices, visit www.mainstage.asu.edu.
Coming up: Animal art, Laugh your brass off, Spotlight on storytelling, Conversations with Cory English about life on the road with family and “Young Frankenstein”