Published on July 31st, 2013 | by TLV News0
Ole Miss Theatre’s 2013–2014 Season: “Beyond Boundaries”
University, Miss. (TLV#184) – Ole Miss Theatre recently unveiled its 2013-2014 season, “Beyond Boundaries.” Mainstage productions include The Laramie Project, Hairspray, Marisol, and Six Characters in Search of an Author. In addition to announcing the season, Ole Miss wants to announce a new “Patron Appreciation Night,” which will be the first Friday of each production. Only patrons, season ticket holders, and Friends of Ole Miss Theatre will be able to purchase tickets for these performances, providing the perfect environment for those who truly enjoy the magic of theatre.
“Beyond Boundaries” is the department’s effort to raise awareness and understanding of the human condition. Although our heritage, sexual orientation, or background may be different, as individuals we all experience joy, love, pain, and overcoming adversity.
Some of the faculty gave their thoughts on the season, including Joe Turner Cantu, who hopes to be a part of “surpassing our creative limitations as artists, and exploring new societal or cultural frontiers in notions, reasoning, and reflection.”
Hairspray director Rene Pulliam said, “I like the variety of issues being covered by the productions—from gay rights and homophobia to race relations and the female image.”
Marisol director, Amanda Wansa Morgan, added, “Social circles and civilizations put boundaries on what is accepted and those boundaries have moved throughout history—forward, backward, and side to side. Our job as artists is to find the events and moments in life that are out of the ordinary and present them for others to pose questions as to why they are significant.” Through these four productions, Ole Miss Theatre hopes to accomplish just this.
Rory Ledbetter will be directing The Laramie Project, the first production in this season. The Laramie Project examines issues of homophobia, judgment of individuals, forgiveness, and healing. Ledbetter says this important project “showcases how theatre can impact a community and shed light on the humanity of a situation, and address a subject that isn’t often in the public spotlight, but almost always in our collective unconscious.”
The play chronicles the beating and death of Matthew Shephard, an openly gay male in Wyoming, the murder trials of the defendants who left him to die tied on a fence, the Laramie community that had to deal with this horrific act, and the national media attention it garnered.
“The play forces us to step beyond initial judgments about people and see the complexities that make them living, breathing human beings,” said Ledbetter. “I hope the audience is able to get in touch with their own humanity … I think they will be able to see themselves in the characters on stage.”
Even in the midst of the worst times, laughter keeps us human. Hairspray brings it to this season. This well-known and beloved musical will perform in the Ford Center for Performing Arts. Seasoned veteran Rene Pulliam will be directing the show, with collaborators Amanda Wansa Morgan (musical director) and Jonathan Howard (choreographer).
Hairspray looks at the prejudices of the late 1950s and early 1960s—how skin color and physical size in relation to beauty were viewed. Tracy Turnblatt, in the lead role, pushes against all of those boundaries. While she dreams of dancing on a Baltimore television show, she also wants to integrate her all-white community and change what it means to be beautiful. Pulliam said, “Bouncing off the success of the 1988 film, it’s a commentary on social status, racial segregation, and female image, all issues we deal with and still see today on the Ole Miss Campus.”
In the spring, Marisol will take audiences through elements of absurdism, magic realism, and surrealism while it deals with themes of religion, war, and “the cost of salvation.” Marisol is about a war in heaven that spills into the streets of New York City and the fighting includes humans and metaphysical beings. The main character, Marisol, is a young Latina woman who is caught in the post-apocalyptic fallout. Director Amanda Wansa Morgan said, “Marisol provides a visceral, grungy, urban setting, and a storyline that poses more questions than it provides answers. It certainly explores and crosses boundaries of religion, social class, social norms, gender roles, relationships, and methods of war.”
The final production of the season, Six Characters in Search of an Author is a study in illusion and reality. In the show, six characters interrupt a rehearsal on a stage at a professional theatre, looking for their author and the person who will “tell their story.”
Written in early 20th century Italy, Cantu thinks Six Characters is pertinent today. “Actors who portray famous, iconic roles are forever connected to those characters, as long as the public is concerned. Reality TV, biotechnology, genetic breakthroughs—these contemporary 21st Century cultural and scientific markers of our human progress are already testing our understanding of what is real and what is not—Six Characters… forces us to confront these questions.” Most times there is a fine line between between reality and illusion—Cantu wants to see “if we can deliver to the audience that unique experience.”
Whether it’s Baltimore in the 60s, Wyoming in the 90s, New York City in “the future,” or a theatre with a jambalaya of characters not knowing their next move, Ole Miss Theatre will take you on an adventure out beyond the pasture of familiarity.
Besides the “Beyond Boundaries” lineup, several other productions will be sponsored by Ole Miss Theatre again this year, such as Mississippi: The Dance Company, Ghostlight Repertory’s season, Ole Miss Student Dance, and The UM Cinema Festival, formerly known as An Evening of Cinema.
Special events this year will include our “First Friday” receptions on the Patron Appreciation Nights after our main stage productions, and our popular Dinner and a Show on Thursday nights for The Laramie Project and Marisol.
New this fall, a Theatre Arts Scholarship Dinner will be held on Thursday, October 17 in Lenoir Dining hall. Tickets will be $40 and will include dinner and entertainment provided by Ole Miss Theatre Arts students. All proceeds benefit Theatre Arts students through scholarships given out during the academic year.
And finally, the department is wrapping up its annual telethon drive for season subscriptions. Any interested patrons may contact us to purchase a season subscription, donate to Ole Miss Theatre, or to be added to our mailing list. If a patron donates, they will receive complimentary tickets for our main stage season to be used at their discretion. If you would like to subscribe, donate, or receive a brochure, please contact us at (662) 915-7287.