Wasserstein and Terry to attend Emory productions of their work

As part of its Women in View special project, Theater Emory will present works by noted playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and Megan Terry in October. Wasserstein's first major play, Uncommon Women and Others, runs Oct. 9-26, and Terry's award-winning play, Approaching Simone, that chronicles the extraordinary life of French philosopher, mystic and social activist Simone Weil, runs Oct. 11-26. Both playwrights will visit the campus during the productions.

"The inaugural year of the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory, a biennial project, will be initiated with on-campus work by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Wole Soyinka, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights Wendy Wasserstein and Robert Schenkkan and Obie Award-winning playwrights Megan Terry and Adrienne Kennedy," said Vincent Murphy, Theater Emory's artistic producing director.

"These two plays and visits begin our Women in View project, which will be supplemented with a production of Kennedy's play, Sleep Deprivation Chamber, in April and a visit from her on Nov. 7 and 8," said Murphy. "Offering works by these three groundbreaking American women playwrights seeks to investigate how our society has changed over the last 20 years."

Wasserstein will give a lecture to the Emory community at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater. She will give an audience lecture in the Faculty Dining Room of Dobbs Center following a 4 p.m. special performance Saturday, Oct. 26. The lectures are open to the public, but space is limited. Tickets to the Oct. 26 performance, which will guarantee admission to Wasserstein's lecture, are $20.

Wasserstein's play, Uncommon Women was first presented in New York in 1977 when she was a recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama. The play recounts the story of a core group of five 1972 graduates of a prestigious women's college, their housemother and other friends. The story of their college days is told in flashback, preceded by a prologue in which the women meet six years following graduation, in 1978.

The flashback, told in small scenes, exposes their ideals, life hopes and expectations as well as their disappointments. Set on the brink of the age of the liberated woman, the group nonetheless struggles with what is expected of them. The play is a revealing look at how the ideals and expectations of women have both changed and remained the same over the last 20 years.

"These women are destined or determined to fulfill an ideal of becoming `uncommon women,'" said director Rosemary Newcott. "A goal both clarified and revealed by their relationships and in their moments together--moments of wisdom, wit, indecision and pure silliness. These are all unique women, engaging and, for some, extremely familiar."

In 1991 Newcott played the lead role in Wasserstein's The Heidi Chronicles in the long-running Horizon Theatre production. Artistic production is by lighting and sound designer Judy Zanotti, set designer Leslie Taylor and costume designer Meghan Healey. The cast includes Emory students Anna Bahney, Ariel Bennett, Barbara Cole, Caroline Edmunds, Erica Goldberg, Kristen Jones, Lisa Kapustin and Courtney King. Atlanta actor and Emory faculty member Brenda Bynum will play the housemother, Mrs. Plumm.

Performances of Uncommon Women will be held:

* 7:30 p.m. Oct. 9

* 4 p.m. Oct. 12 and 19

* 8 p.m. Oct. 18 and 24

* 4 p.m. special performance

Oct. 26 ($20 tickets).

Approaching Simone

According to Weil experts Lawrence A. Blum and Victor J. Seidler, in her short life (1909-1943) Simone Weil was many things--a philosophy teacher, a union militant, a political activist, a factory worker and an ardent seeker of truth. That quest led her to "intensive studies of science and technology, Greek and Roman civilization, Asian religious thought, and in the final years of her life, to a form of Christian spirituality."

Terry's celebration of Weil's life won the 1970 Obie Award for its premiere at the La Mama Repertory Theater in New York. The work was cited as a "mind-shaking dramatic collage that tries to search out and describe the febrile genius of Simone Weil...." and "Miss Terry's treatment of her story is masterly," according to New York Times theater critic Clive Barnes.

"Simone Weil's spiritual journey is an inspiration revealing much of what has been troubling the post-industrial world," said director Nicole Torre, founder of Zoink Productions. "Her world is a luminous one that I am looking forward to sharing, both with an ensemble of students and artists and with the audiences who come to experience her ideas and vision."

The technical crew for Approaching Simone includes sound design by Paul Jorgenson and additional music by Atlanta musicians Wanda Baker, John Mark Burton, David Clair, Michael Geier, Betty Hart, Bill Taft and Charles Waters. Set design is by Wm. Moore, costume design by Holly Morris and lighting design by Judy Zanotti.

Cast members include professional actor Veerle De Ridder as "Simone," and an ensemble of Atlanta professionals and Emory students.

Performances of Approaching Simone will be held:

* 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11

* 8 p.m. Oct. 12, 17, 19, 25 and 26

* 3 p.m. Oct. 20

* Playwright Terry will lead an audience discussion following the 8 p.m. Oct. 19 performance. The Emory Women's Center will hold a conversatino and tea session with Terry on Oct. 17, 4:30 p.m. in the Women's Center.

Call the Emory Box Office Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. at 727-5050 or e-mail: boxoffice@ emory.edu.

--Joyce Bell

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