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March 2009

Theatre gets best revenge

UNCG Theatre is taking its edgy adaptation of “The Revenger's Tragedy” on the road to Washington, D.C. At the request of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Tragedy,” adapted and directed by theatre professor Jim Wren, has been invited to play the Kennedy Center April 15 as part of the 2009 National Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Only one production from each of eight regions across the country is invited to the national festival each year.

“The odds are better that you'll make it to the finals in the NCAA than get invited to the Kennedy Center,” said theatre professor John Wolf, who coordinated the Region IV festival hosted by UNCG in February. “It's such a validation of the hard work that's gone on in this department for years now.”

UNCG Theatre hasn't taken a production to the Kennedy Center since 1974.

That a national selection committee, headed by KCACTF Artistic Director Gregg Henry, chose “Tragedy” to represent Region IV was a pleasant surprise to those in the Department of Theatre. They knew their production was top-notch — exciting, original, well-written and well-acted — but it was also somewhat unwieldy, involving complex sets and a cast and crew of 70 people.

Cast and crew, trimmed to 60 people, will load up the set and head for Washington April 14. They will install the set, perform and tear down the set Wednesday and head home Thursday. Which, said Department of Theatre head Jim Fisher, “proves theatre people are insane.”

Wren and his writing partner, Joe Sturgeon, re-imagined Thomas Middleton's Jacobean tale as a bloody homage to female action thrillers. Set in a modern underworld, it premiered in Taylor Theatre last November.

“Tragedy” opens with the wedding celebration of a mysterious woman, Vi. The party is brutally interrupted by the Duke and his men, ending in a blood bath that Vi survives. The story then jumps ahead four years as Vi exacts revenge on behalf of her love by destroying everything and everyone surrounding the Duke. She will stop at nothing.

“There were such outstanding productions at the regional festival, and our students had a chance to see these productions,” Fisher said. “They had a chance to see that they stood a little taller. It's a great confidence-builder and an incredible, incredible honor.”

A free public performance of the show is planned for 5 p.m. Sunday, April 12, in Taylor Theatre. This performance gives the actors a chance to warm up the show in front of an audience before heading to D.C.

Times and ticket prices for the Kennedy Center performance have not yet been set. Call (336) 334-4601 for more information.

“We have a great reputation,” Wolf said. “Now we're gonna have to prove it when we do this show.”







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