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Samuel Beckett Plays Come to OWU Theatre in February

January 17, 2000

[ 'Catastrophe' Cast Photo ]DELAWARE, OHIO -- On Feb. 4, 5, 11, 12, and 13, the Ohio Wesleyan Department of Theatre and Dance will present An Evening With Samuel Beckett: Four Short Plays at the Studio Theatre of Chappelear Drama Center on campus. The performance begins at 8 p.m., with the exception of the matinee showing on the 13th, which starts at 2 p.m.

Beckett (1906-1989), an Irish playwright who spent most of his working life in Paris, won the 1969 Nobel Prize for literature and has been described as a "minimalist" by some. He is perhaps best known for the full-length play, Waiting for Godot. Popular themes for the writer included alienation, communication (or the lack thereof), memory, and creative rights/freedom. The four pieces to be presented at OWU are samples of his work from the 1960s, '70s, and '80s. "I wanted to do plays from various periods to show the evolution of (Beckett's) style." said Prof. D. Glen Vanderbilt, who is directing the performance.

The first piece, aptly titled Play, is described by Vanderbilt as a "sober meditation between a man and two women about their relationships." Play stars students Sandra Cooke as "Woman 1," Saira Bokhari as "Woman 2," and Luke Lindberg as "Man."

The next two plays both feature memory as their primary theme. Footfalls is about the relationship between a mother and daughter, played by Martha Hill and Barb Lanciers, respectively. That Time is a solo performance featuring Mike Mathieu as a character known only as "Listener."

Catastrophe, the final performance of the evening, is the most recent play out of the four, written seven years before Beckett's death. The play also has a colorful history. Beckett dedicated the piece to Vaclav Havel (now president of the Czech Republic), a former Eastern Bloc writer who was imprisoned by the Communists over issues pertaining to free speech. "(Catastrophe is a) short play about an unnamed character imprisoned by an unnamed autocratic government," says Vanderbilt, "(It's a) play about the power of the human spirit." The cast includes Jake Mackan as "Protagonist," Lauren Hall as "Director," Damien Crim as "Assistant," and Jason LeFebvre as "Luke."

OWU students also played a dominant role in the visual aspects of the production, with students Whitney Woodland on set design, Rebecca Gura on costumes, and Paul Sandrock on lighting.

"(The Department of Theatre and Dance is) committed to producing a wide range of literature that includes classics, 20th century classics (the category that Beckett's work would fall under), and contemporary [pieces]," says Vanderbilt. "(Beckett created) a new way of looking at language and action on stage ... his work has an important place in 20th-century drama and we want to expose students and audiences to it."

Ticket prices are $5 for students and seniors, $6 for OWU faculty and staff, and $7 for general admission. Contact the Chappelear Drama Center Box Office at 740-368-3855 to order as of Jan. 24. For more information, contact student publicity coordinators Leslie Weston at 740-368-2195 and Latasha Lewis at 740-368-2198 after Jan. 17.