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Release date:
July 12, 2001
Contact: Deb Hammacher, Assistant Director, 404-727-0644, or dhammac@emory.edu

Theater Emory 2001-02 Season a Decidedly American Affair

Theater Emory's 2001-02 season has a decidedly American and contemporary 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 Wallace's "The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek," a centerpiece of the city-wide Naomi Wallace Festival this fall; further readings of plays begun last year in Theater Emory's Brave New Works series; readings of two plays under development for the Salt Lake City Olympic Play Commission Project; a production of Eugene O'Neill's "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 didn't intentionally plan it that way. This season is largely about modern plays in context," says Vincent Murphy, artistic producing director of Theater Emory. "Our mission as a place of adventure and education suggests that we should keep trying to look at the bigger picture, which can't 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 century's 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. 8-9 with the Salt Lake City Olympic Play Commission Project readings of Arthur Kopit's "The Discovery of America," about Cabeza de Vaca and the first Europeans to cross the country, and Robert Schenkkan's "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 at Salt Lake City last winter. Kopit and Schenkkan, dramaturg and project director David Kranes, dramaturg Tom Bryant and Pioneer Theatre Company Artistic Director Charles Morey will be in residence at Emory Sept. 4-9 to work with Murphy and an ensemble of accomplished actors. The casts are expected to include Tom Key, Carolyn Cook, Tim McDonough, Bart Hansard, Chris Kayser, Scott Higgs and John Ammerman.

Murphy initiated the city-wide Naomi Wallace Festival and will direct Emory's production of "The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek" ( Oct. 24-Nov. 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 parents—becoming cogs in the town's industrial machine—by playing chicken with the 7:10 train. Wallace weaves her tale with a thread of humor and mystery in this "lovely, strikingly poetic play" (New York Times). In it, she considers the contrasting fear of the older generation and the eternal optimism of youth. Equally important, Wallace celebrates the power of the human body and laments the consumption of it, the grinding down of it, by industrial society.

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, Wallace writes work that has been praised for its lyricism, sensuality and willingness to tackle difficult subjects. She has received several commissions from the Royal Shakespeare Company, including the acclaimed "Slaughter City" and her work-in-progress, "Fugitive Cant."

In February 2002, Theater Emory will collaborate with the Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life (MARIAL Center) on the American Family Series to explore the evolution of the American family with a production of "Ah, Wilderness!" (Feb. 15-March 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. 24-27.

"We will look at one of the great American plays in the context of the evolution of the American family," says Murphy. "Ah, Wilderness!' also sets the groundwork for the ideals and the romantic notions of the nuclear family."
Brave New Works readings are scheduled for March 4-9, where works in development include a new Frank Manley play and a Theater Emory commission for Robert O'Hara to adapt Gary Pomerantz's book "Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn."

Finally, an appropriate bookend to the Salt Lake project is "30 Below: A Series of Short Pieces," (April 6-13) that will feature an ensemble of Emory theater students under the guidance of a new professional company, Out of Hand Theater, Inc. The group will select and produce a varying bill of short pieces by and about people age 30 or younger to be performed April 6-13. Out of Hand was founded by five recent Emory theater alumni, three of whom were recipients of the university's prestigious Sudler Prize in the Arts for creative or performing achievement.

"I've seen so much great student playwriting come in for the university's Aristine Mann writing competition in the last few years, and this will give students the opportunity to broaden their skills in collaboration with a professional company of artists who were very recently in their shoes," says Murphy.

The complete season is as follows. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call the Arts at Emory box office at 404-727-5050 or send e-mail to boxoffice@emory.edu.

September 8-9, 2001
The Salt Lake City Olympic Play Commission Project. "The Discovery of America" by Arthur Kopit, and "The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune" by Robert Schenkkan, directed by Vincent Murphy.
Theater Emory, in connection with the Pioneer Theatre Company and the Olympic Arts Festival of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games, will continue a commissioning and development process begun at Salt Lake City last winter. Celebrated playwrights Arthur Kopit and Robert Schenkkan, dramaturg and project director David Kranes, and Pioneer Theatre Company Artistic Director Charles Morey will be in residence at Emory Sept. 4?9 to work with Theater Emory Artistic Producing Director Vincent Murphy and an ensemble of actors. Public readings of the works-in-process will be held on the final two days. Mary Gray Munroe Theater, Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle, Emory. Free

"The Discovery of America" by Arthur Kopit, September 8 at 5 p.m.
"The Marriage of Miss Hollywood and King Neptune" by Robert Schenkkan, September 9 at 3 p.m.

Oct. 24-Nov. 10, 2001
"The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek" by Naomi Wallace, directed by Vincent Murphy. Part of the city-wide Naomi Wallace Festival.
An extraordinary woman drawn to testing the edges of possibility, and the young man who follows her, play out their search for adulthood in this sensuous, mesmerizing tale. Artistic Producing Director Vincent Murphy initiated the Naomi Wallace Festival, recruiting 12 Atlanta companies to celebrate the work of this contemporary American playwright whose works are better known in London than in her Southern home. Mary Gray Munroe Theater, Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle, Emory. General admission $15; Emory students with i.d. $7.50

7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
8 p.m. Oct. 25, 26, 27, Nov. 1*, 2, 3, 8-10
3 p.m. Nov. 4, Nov.10
*Pay-what-you-can performance.

Feb. 15-March 2, 2002
"Ah, Wilderness!" by Eugene O'Neill, directed by John Ammerman
With this 1910 classic, Theater Emory launches an investigation of how American family life has been portrayed on the stage throughout the 20th century. O'Neill's warm and insightful coming-of-age comedy and a series of readings of scenes from each decade are part of Theater Emory's collaboration with Emory Center for Myth and Ritual in American Life (MARIAL Center). "Ah, Wilderness!": general admission $15; Emory students with i.d. $7.50. American Family Series events are free and open to the public. All events are in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater, Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle, Emory.

"Ah, Wilderness!"
7:30 p.m. Feb. 15
8 p.m. Feb. 16, 21*, 22, 23, 28, March 1, 2
3 p.m. Feb. 17, 24, March 2
*Pay what you can.

The American Family Series
Lecture: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24
"The American Family: Scenes from the 20th Century, Part I": 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25-26
Panel discussion: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 27

March 4-9
Brave New Works. Workshop readings of new plays in development, including a new Frank Manley work and Robert O'Hara's commission to adapt Gary Pomerantz's Atlanta history book, "Where Peachtree Meets Sweet Auburn." Theater Lab, Burlington Road Building, 1804 N. Decatur Rd., Emory. Free. Times and complete list of work tba.

April 6-13, 2002
"30 Below: A Series of Short Pieces"
An ensemble of Emory students will work under the guidance of a new Atlanta professional theater company, Out Of Hand Theater, Inc., founded primarily by recent Emory alumni. The company will select and produce a varying bill of short theater pieces reflecting the world of today's youth. The selections scheduled for each performance will be different. Mary Gray Munroe Theater, Dobbs University Center, 605 Asbury Circle, Emory. General admission $10; Emory students with i.d. $5.
7:30 p.m. April 6
8 p.m. April 7, 10-13
3 p.m. April 7, 13

Theater Emory is the producing organization of Emory University and is affiliated with the Department of Theater Studies. It is a constituent member of the Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national association of nonprofit professional theatres, and a member of the Atlanta Coalition of Performing Arts. It operates under a season agreement with Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.


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