July 23, 2001
American stories grab the stage in 200102 season
By Deb Hammacher
Theater Emorys 200102 season has a decidedly American feel,
with a heavy emphasis on developing new work. The American family, the
discovery and exploration of this country, and what it means to be an
American youth are themes covered in the upcoming season.
Projects during the season are Naomi Wallaces The Trestle at
Pope Lick Creek, a centerpiece of this falls citywide Naomi
Wallace Festival; further readings of plays begun last year in Theater
Emorys Brave New Works series; readings of two plays under development
for the Salt Lake City Olympic Play Commission Project; a production of
Eugene ONeills Ah, Wilderness! and scenes from other
plays about the evolution of the American family; and a play development
project by and about people age 30 or younger.
There is an American theme running through the season, although
I didnt intentionally plan it that way, said Vincent Murphy,
artistic producing director of Theater Emory. This season is largely
about modern plays in context. Our mission as a place of adventure and
education suggests that we should keep trying to look at the bigger picture,
which cant be done in a single production.
With Naomi Wallace, thanks to the participation of a dozen local
companies, we can look at the entire body of her work. With the American
Family Series we look at the entire centurys representation of how
the family evolved. With 30 Below we are helping to develop
several new pieces in collaboration with young writers.
The season kicks off Sept. 89 with the Salt Lake City Olympic Play
Commission Project readings of Arthur Kopits The Discovery of
America, about Cabeza de Vaca and the first Europeans to cross the
country, and Robert Schenkkans The Marriage of Miss Hollywood
and King Neptune, set in Hollywood in the 1920s as silent films gave
way to talkies.
In connection with the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City and
the Olympic Arts Festival of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games,
Theater Emory will continue the commissioning and development process
begun last winter. The casts are expected to include such noted Atlanta
actors as Tom Key, Carolyn Cook, Bart Hansard, Chris Kayser and Scott
Higgs, as well as Emorys own John Ammerman and Tim McDonough.
Murphy initiated the Naomi Wallace Festival and will direct Emorys
production of The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (Oct. 24Nov.
10), a hit at the 1998 Humana Festival of New American Plays. The two-act,
Depression-era play centers on two sexually charged young people seeking
to escape the fate of their parentsbecoming cogs in the towns
industrial machineby playing chicken with the
Recipient of a 1999 genius grant from the John D. and Catherine
T. MacArthur Foundation, Wallace has found great acclaim in England while
remaining relatively unknown in her homeland. A native of Kentucky who
now divides her time between that state and North Yorkshire, England,
Wallaces work has been praised for its lyricism, sensuality and
willingness to tackle difficult
In February 2002, Theater Emory will collaborate with the Emory Center
for Myth and Ritual in American Life (MARIAL) on the American Family Series
to explore the evolution of the American family with a production of Ah,
Wilderness! (Feb. 15March 2). In addition, scenes will be performed
from nine additional plays, each representative of the family from a decade
of the 20th century, during the conference of Sloan Foundation-funded
MARIAL centers, Feb. 2427.
Brave New Works readings are scheduled for March 49, where works
in development include a new Frank Manley play and a Theater Emory commission
for Robert OHara to adapt Gary Pomerantzs book Where Peachtree
Meets Sweet Auburn.
Finally, an appropriate bookend to the Salt Lake project is 30
Below: A Series of Short Pieces, (April 613) that will feature
an ensemble of Emory theater students under the guidance of a new professional
company, Out of Hand Theater. The group was founded by five recent Emory
For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.