Emory Report
February 7, 2005
Volume 61, Number 18


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February 7, 2005
Yearlong Brave New Works festival turns green in spring

BY Michael Terrazas

Within Theater Emory’s (TE) 2004–05 season, which has been dedicated to new play development, last semester’s offerings were grouped loosely under the theme of race. Now, as winter cold slowly gives way to spring and renewal, this semester’s Brave New Works give a nod to ecology.

Not every new “play”—some projects are more accurately described as artistic experiments incorporating theatrical conventions—falls under the ecological heading, but Vinnie Murphy, artistic producing director of TE, said each work that will find voice in the coming weeks owes itself to some aspect of research undertaken by either Emory faculty or alumni or both.

“You don’t know if they’ll turn into plays,” Murphy said of projects such as Jan Akers’ “Wild/Geography,” Leslie Taylor’s “The MFK Fisher Project” and Michael Evenden’s “Baker Woods Project” and “Frogs.” All three “playwrights” are theater studies faculty members who have assimilated their own or others’ work into theatrical pieces. Tim McDonough also is contributing with “Untitled.”

“It’s been an unusual year for us, doing all this workshop stuff, but it’s been great,” said Taylor, associate professor and chair of theater studies. The play’s inspiration, MFK (Mary Francis Kennedy) Fisher, was a 20th century American food writer who often explored the cultural meaning of shared meals; Taylor is experimenting to see whether Fisher’s writings can be adapted to a stage production.

Chief among the ecology-themed works is “Globus Hystericus,” a work TE commissioned from Boston playwright Janet Kenney that is billed as “an apocalyptic romantic comedy complete with an earth that talks.” The reading is being developed in coordination with Out of Hand Theater, the company formed by recent Emory graduates that has become one of Atlanta’s hottest theatrical groups.

In addition to the Out of Hand alumni, Leslie Swackhamer '89C, former artistic director of Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre company, returns to campus to direct “The MFK Fisher Project.” On March 8, Emory graduates Mark Blankenship, KT Kilborn and Allen Read present “School’s Out,” an examination of American political and sexual culture.

Finally, this semester’s offerings are not limited only to theater faculty and alumni; Sidney Perkowitz, Charles Howard Candler Professor of Physics, has written “Glory Enough,” which tells the story of Rosalind Franklin, a British scientist of the mid-1900s who was instrumental in mapping the structure of DNA but who watched three other (male) scientists win the Nobel Prize for the work. This is Perkowitz’ second play; in 2002 he penned Friedmann’s Balloon about Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann.

“I started thinking about [“Glory Enough”] four or five years ago,” said Perkowitz, who also will participate in a Feb. 14 panel discussion on Franklin. “I did a project about the history of physics, and I found some old photos of [Franklin] I’d never seen before. She came across as a smart and beautiful woman, and I said, ‘This is someone I would have liked to know.’”

Following is complete schedule of spring Brave New Works events. All are free, but reservations can be made by calling 404-727-5050. Unless otherwise noted, performances will be held in the Schwartz Center Theater Lab.

• “Globus Hystericus,” by Janet Kenney. Feb. 12–13, 7:30 p.m., Mary Gray Munroe Theater.

• “Glory Enough,” by Sidney Perkowitz, directed by Vinnie Murphy. Feb. 13, 1 & 3 p.m., Math & Science Center planetarium.

• “MFK Fisher Project,”
directed by Leslie Swackhamer. Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m., 210 Rich Building.

• “Untitled,” by Tim McDonough. Feb. 26, 7:30 p.m.

• “Wild/Geography,” by Jan Akers. Feb. 27, 7:30 p.m.

• “The Baker Woods Project.” Feb. 27, 3 p.m. “Frogs.” April 15 & 17, 7:30 p.m. These open readings will be held in various campus locations; call 404-727-5050 for details. Rain location is Schwartz Center Theater Lab.

• “School’s Out,” by Mark Blankenship, KT Kilborn and Allen Read. March 8, 7:30 p.m.