RSU Theatre Announces 2008-2009 Season

A thrilling adaptation of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” a wry reworking of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” and an unusual “public evolution” of an original play by a noted Native American playwright will highlight the 2008-2009 season of the Theatre Program at Rogers State University.

“This promises to be an exciting season of new plays, adaptations of classics and the public evolution of a new play in progress,” said David Blakely, director of RSU Theatre.

The new play that Blakely is referring to is the reading of “Quietly Standing in the Shade,” a new play by Judy Lee Oliva, an award-winning Chickasaw playwright from Albuquerque, N.M., whose play “Te Ata” recently garnered attention when it was performed at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha.

“Quietly Standing in the Shade” is a two-act drama about the difficulties of the Turner family in rural Oklahoma during the Depression. The first readings of the play will be held on Nov. 20-22 at the Will Rogers Auditorium on the RSU campus in Claremore. These readings will be the initial stage in the play’s development and the audience will be asked to provide feedback on her work. Second readings of the play will be held on March 5-7, providing the audience an opportunity to hear the play in a later stage of development. During its 2009-2010 Season, RSU Theatre plans to take the finished product to the stage, Blakely said.

“This will give the audience an opportunity to provide feedback and gain insight into how a play grows and develops,” he said.

The current 2008-2009 season will begin with RSU Theatre’s Fourth Annual “Ten-Minute Play Festival,” in which RSU students, faculty and local playwrights present readings of their new, original plays.

This year, three 10-minute plays will be presented, including “Reverse Evolution” by Brian Polak, “The Tough Coughed as He Ploughed the Dough” by Dr. William Hart, RSU health sciences professor, and “Breaking and Entering” by Josh Buehler, RSU senior from Oologah. The plays will be presented Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 11-13, in the Will Rogers Auditorium.

Just in time for Halloween, RSU Theatre will present an adaptation of “Frankenstein,” Mary Shelley’s classic 1818 horror story about Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss scientist who learns how to create a human being from the body parts of corpses.

The novel has been adapted for the stage by Blakely, who presented it for the first time in 2004 at Temple Theatre in North Carolina. The novel has been part of the RSU English curriculum for several years.

“Frankenstein” will be presented at 7:07 p.m. October 10-11, 23-25 and 30-31 in the Will Rogers Auditorium. Josh Buehler will play Dr. Frankenstein, leading a cast of seven actors who will portray 20 characters.

RSU students will be presenting their own work during RSU Theatre’s fifth annual “Original Recipe,” a series of one-act plays either written or directed by RSU students. This year, the new works will be presented at 7:07 p.m. February 12-14, 2009, in the Will Rogers Auditorium.

RSU Theatre will culminate its season with a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” a story of power, deception and murder that puts the Machiavellian Richard in the role of financial tycoon at the fictional York Investment Corporation in a southern U.S. city. The play will be adapted and directed by Dr. Gregory Thompson, head of the RSU Department of English and Humanities.

“Richard III is a fascinating study of the possible for evil that exists in all of us,” said Thompson. “The title character is Machiavellian in the truest sense. Shakespeare must have had a copy of ‘The Prince’ next to him when he wrote this play.”

Although it is an adaptation, the play will be delivered completely in iambic pentameter – one of the only plays Shakespeare wrote entirely in this manner, Thompson said.

“We hope our adaptation will leave the audience intrigued with Richard and feeling a little creepy – like they enjoyed the character but felt they probably shouldn’t,” Thompson said.

The cast will be large – as many as 15 actors – to accommodate battle scenes and a strong focus will be placed on character development, Thompson said. Another twist: Richard will be portrayed as a woman, Queen Rachel III, played by Katie Hendrickson of Claremore.

The play will be presented at 7:07 p.m. April 16-18 and 23-25 in the auditorium.

For more information on the RSU Theatre season, call (918) 343-7521.