Live performance has always been a multidisciplinary event, its three great streams — theater, music and dance — forever shifting and combining in new and unpredictable ways. For its 2009-10 season, the Performing Arts Department (PAD) in Arts & Sciences will present a handful of works that together highlight both the boundless possibility and the transformational power of the stage.
“Great art does not merely copy human experience,” says Robert Henke, Ph.D., professor and chair of the PAD. “It transforms it, quite literally, by concentrating and distilling experience through pre-existing but always changing forms.”
The biennial *Young Choreographers Showcase* returns April 9-11. Pictured are Jackie Dodd and Heather Wigmore in *Shattered Glass,* from the 2008 concert.
The season will open with the annual A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival, which will showcase four new plays written by Washington University students. Named in honor of alumnus A.E. Hotchner (AB and JD ’40), the festival consists of a two-week workshop — led by Liz Engelman, a former president and current board chair of Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas — followed by two evenings of staged readings.
The first evening, Sept. 25, will feature Razor Love by Max Rissman and Steps by Margaret Stamell. The following evening, Sept. 26, will feature Jonathan Baude’s Match or Kasparov Never Played Black and Jessica Atkin’s What Will You Tell Your Children?
The PAD season will continue Oct. 16-Nov. 1 with the musical Ragtime, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning adaption of the 1975 novel by E.L. Doctorow. Jointly produced with the St. Louis Black Repertory, Ragtime intertwines the lives of three families at the dawn of the 20th century but centers on jazzman Coalhouse Walker Jr., a successful piano player who turns to violence after a white mob destroys his custom Model T. Ron Himes, founder of the Black Rep as well as the PAD’s Henry E. Hampton Jr. artist-in-residence, will direct the show, which includes music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens.
Next up is Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman Nov. 19-22. Directed by Annamaria Pileggi, senior lecturer in drama, this haunting and darkly funny tale — winner of the 2004 Olivier Award for Best New Play — is set in a Kafkaesque police state and centers on a writer, Katurian, who must sacrifice his life in order to save his fiction.
Choreographer Rulan Tangen, director of Dancing Earth-Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations, will serve as a visiting distinguished professor next fall and will set a work for *Transmotion,* the 2009 Washington University Dance Theatre concert.
Transmotion, the 2009 Washington University Dance Theatre concert, will run Dec. 4-6. Directed by Cecil Slaughter, senior lecturer in dance, the performance will feature dozens of student dancers in professionally choreographed works by both faculty and guest artists. Highlights will include settings by adjunct instructor Mary Ann Rund and by visiting choreographers Rulan Tangen, director of Dancing Earth—Indigenous Contemporary Dance Creations in Santa Fe; and Paula Weber, chair and professor of dance at the University of Missouri—Kansas City.
The season will continue Feb. 19-28 with Eric Overmyer’s On the Verge (or The Geography of Yearning) — a kaleidoscopic comedy following three Victorian women as they trek through time, space and pop culture — directed by Andrea Urice, senior lecturer in drama. William Whitaker, senior lecturer in drama, will direct Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, a satiric morality tale about a Manhattan publicist whose life begins to spiral out of control, March 25-28. From April 9-11 the PAD will host its fourth biannual Young Choreographers Showcase, featuring original works — selected by audition — by student choreographers.
Concluding the season April 23-May 2 will be Metamorphoses, the acclaimed play by MacArthur “genius award” winner Mary Zimmerman. Based on ancient Roman myths drawn from the works of Ovid, this inventive evening is neither musical nor drama nor dance concert, but instead fuses elements of all three forms to create a unique epic at once modern and timeless. Henry Schvey, Ph.D., professor in the PAD, will direct, with choreography by Cecil Slaughter.
The A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival is free and open to the public. Tickets to Ragtime are $20, or $15 for Washington University faculty and staff and $10 for children, students and seniors. All other events are $15, or $10 for students, seniors, faculty and staff. Subscriptions to three or more events are available for $12 per show. In addition, the PAD offers a special “season pass” for $58. A current Washington University ID is required; registration deadline is Oct. 2.
Writer and performer Thomas DeFrantz, a professor of music and theater arts at MIT, will be one of several guests taking part in “Dancing Who I Am,” a panel discussion on dance and ethnicity, Sept. 12.
For more information about the PAD season or to order tickets, call the Edison Theatre Box Office at (314) 935-6543.
In addition to performances, the PAD will host lectures, discussions, symposia and other events throughout the year. Highlights will include “Dancing Who I Am” (Sept. 12), a panel and dance concert exploring the role of ethnicity in dance. Participants will include critic Elizabeth Zimmer, former dance editor of The Village Voice; Thomas DeFrantz, a professor of music and theater arts at MIT, who specializes in African American performance; and postdoctoral fellow Ting-Ting Chang, who studies contemporary dance development in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The event will be held as part of the university’s fall series “Ethnic Profiling: A Challenge to Democracy,” organized by the Center for the Study of Ethics & Human Values.
Sept. 25-26: A.E. Hotchner Playwriting Festival Directed by Liz Engelman
Oct. 24-Nov. 1: Ragtime Book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens Directed by Ron Himes
Nov. 19-22: The Pillowman Written by Martin McDonagh Directed by Annamaria Pileggi
Dec. 4-6: Washington University Dance Theatre presents Transmotion Directed by Cecil Slaughter
Feb. 19-22: On the Verge (or The Geography of Yearning) Written by Eric Overmyer Directed by Andrea Urice
March 25-28: Fabulation Written by Lynn Nottage Directed by William Whitaker
April 9-11: Young Choreographers Showcase Artistic direction by David Marchant
April 23-May 2: Metamorphoses Written by Mary Zimmerman Directed by Henry I. Schvey Choreography by Cecil Slaughter.