June 23, 2003

Emory’s own to shine in TE's 2003–04 season

By Deb Hammacher

Following a season dedicated largely to fostering the development of new work by theater artists from around the country, Theater Emory is showcasing homegrown talent in the 2003–04 season. The season features three world premieres: two by members of the Emory theater community and one a work commissioned by the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory.

The world premieres are Elizabeth Wong’s Dating and Mating in Modern Times (Sept. 20–Oct. 4), Emory student Lauren Gunderson’s Leap (Feb. 12–21), and theater studies Associate Professor John Ammerman’s Life Goes On: A Silent Play in Black and White (April 15–24).

The season will kick off with a showcase of “Contemporary Theater From India” (Sept. 12–13) and will include a production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oct. 28–Nov. 8).

“This season is largely the payoff for all the works we’ve been developing over the years,” said Vincent Murphy, artistic producing director of Theater Emory. “Elizabeth Wong’s piece was a commission of the Playwriting Center, in part because we wanted to focus on women. Lauren Gunderson is a very talented playwright, and this is the first time we have ever done a full production of a student work as part of the Theater Emory season, although we have done a lot of Brave New Works readings of student material.”

Wong, a Los Angeles-based television and theater writer who also will direct the production, describes Dating and Mating as “a series of monologues by women in celebration of men, of the libido and the white hot desire for connection between the sexes.” This particular show may not be appropriate for younger patrons, so parental discretion is advised.

Gunderson is an Emory senior who has had her award-winning plays produced off Broadway in New York and at several Atlanta theaters. Leap is the story of two young sisters trying to impart the wisdom of the future to their skeptical pupil, a young Isaac Newton, who wants more than his share of knowledge. She poses the question, “What if Newton knew as much as Einstein?” Megan Monaghan, Emory theater studies alumna and literary director for the Alliance Theatre Company, will direct.

“Here I think we have cultivated an audience with a taste for adventure, great theater and great literature,” said Murphy. “The 2003–04 season is reflective of that audience with the shows in the season, including the India theater showcase, the Shakespeare and John Ammerman’s new work.”

“Contemporary Theater From India” will look at a cross-section of work coming out of India with staged readings that are free and open to the public. Following independence, India has witnessed a re-emergence of its rich culture in both fiction and theater not only in English, but Hindi and many regional languages. While Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth and Rohiton Mishtry are names the world recognizes, a large array of lesser known Indian playwrights and writers continue to bloom in obscurity. These are the artists whose work Emory will showcase.

Life Goes On, conceived and directed by Ammerman, stems from his research into the silent film era of the 1920s and ’30s. Created in the style of a black-and-white silent film (including live musical accompaniment during the performances and the best comic and dramatic elements of the genre), Life Goes On follows the story of one Detroit family’s encounter with the 1929 stock market crash.

Theater Emory’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Lisa Paulsen, is a “return to an old friend,” according to Murphy, reprising a production of his first season at Emory 15 years ago.

“After celebrating the 20th anniversary of Theater Emory last season, it is wonderful to be able to come back and see how we’ve changed in that time,” Murphy said.

Ticket prices will vary according to the event. For more information, call the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050 or visit www.emory.edu/ARTS.