Carnegie Mellon Press Release: April 1, 2004
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Press Release

Eric Sloss

For immediate release:
April 1, 2004

Carnegie Mellon's School of Drama Announces 2004-2005 Season

PITTSBURGH—Elizabeth Bradley, head of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Drama, announces the 2004-2005 season for the Purnell Center for the Arts. Performances take place in the Philip Chosky Theater, the Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theater and the John Wells Video Studio.

"In the 2004-2005 season, the School of Drama has chosen plays that explore scientific ideas and their impact on the world. Whether seen from the perspective of Œscience as nightmare,' or conversely Œscience as utopia,' this theme provides a rich array of dramatic material and is uniquely suited to Carnegie Mellon. At this university we daily celebrate the conjunction between scientific and artistic endeavor," said Bradley.

Both drama and science seek to make sense of the world. Science, however, often radically changes the world the rest of us must make sense of. The plays chosen register our fascination with, and often our alarm at, what emerges from the scientist's endeavors, both in theory and practice. A marriage of dramatic art and science, such as the 2004-2005 season offers, seems particularly appropriate for Carnegie Mellon.

Winner of the 1993 Olivier Award for best play, Tom Stoppard audaciously interweaves two separate cultural periods. The play tells the story of an adolescent prodigy who discovers the chaos theory and her descendants who try to piece together her life more than a century later. The first period, set in the 18th century, initiates post-Newtonian science, a precocious "chaos" theory of mathematics, physics, Romantic poetry, the battle between classicism vs. romanticism in landscape architecture and the emerging Industrial Revolution. The second period, set in the late 20th century, is engaged, sometimes hilariously, in academically researching the first. For both periods, Stoppard assembles an endearingly eccentric cast of characters. The play's wide-ranging, lightly learned dialogue is itself an Œarcadia of the mind' the modern audience will be happy to enter. In a theatrical tour-de-force, the two periods merge in the final scene, tantalizingly close and irrevocably separate.

"The Alchemist" directed by Di Trevis
One of his most popular comedies in Ben Jonson's lifetime, "The Alchemist" tells the farcical story of three swindlers who have set up shop as alchemists, claiming to possess the amazing Philosopher's Stone. This new adaptation by Di Trevis is based on the successful 1962 production by Sir Tyrone Guthrie. In the alembic of "The Alchemist" Ben Jonson distils a potent and fermenting brew of religion, science and sex. The play reveals how 17th-century London was avaricious, superstitious and gullible toward fraudulent science. Written almost four centuries ago, the London world Jonson's powerful satire brings to life will seem a startlingly familiar place.

Three American Plays in Repertory
The third production at Carnegie Mellon will be three shows performed in rotating repertory: Paul Zindel's "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds," Mojie Crigler's "Fzzn Grrl," and Kia Corthron's "Slide Glide, the Slippery Slope." These three productions examine science in the contemporary world using Carnegie Mellon faculty directors and sharing a single set.

"The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" directed by Geoffrey Hitch
The late Paul Zindel's Pulitzer prize-winning play tells the story of Tillie, a young girl who finds a sustaining refuge from complex family relationships in the beauty and unlimited horizons of scientific exploration. The play is a moving illustration of the effects of loneliness and shattered dreams on the past, present and future of family life. "Marigolds" also won the 1970 Obie Award and was later made into a Twentieth-Century Fox film starring Joanne Woodward.

Faculty director Geoffrey Hitch will direct this production. Hitch has been the senior lecturer in directing & acting at Carnegie Mellon since 1992. Prior to Carnegie Mellon, Geoffrey served as resident director at The Central School of Speech & Drama in London and taught at many other institutions, including the Juilliard School, Circle In The Square, Roundabout Theatre Conservatory and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

"Fzzn Grrl" directed by Jed Allen Harris
Developed in conjunction with the Ensemble Studio Theatre and with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, "Fzzn Grrl" will be a world premiere and a post-Columbine rumination of the factors that incubate alienation in contemporary society. "Fzzn Grrl" tells the story of Ineke, a prodigiously gifted freshman whose science-fair experiment spins into a nightmare.

"Slide Glide, the Slippery Slope" directed by Mladen Kiselov
Kia Corthron's "Slide Glide, the Slippery Slope" investigates questions of nature versus nurture as demonstrated through the story of two African American identical twins who had been separated at birth. Each twin carries corrosive resentments, assuming that the other got the better deal in life. When they reunite after 36 years of separation, their assumptions and prejudices are challenged as they are finally forced to look into the mirror image that is each other. The play explores cloning, gene theory and ruminates on race in fiercely poetic language.

"Candide" directed by Gregory Lehane
Leonard Bernstein's "Candide," with lyrics by Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim and John Latouche, is based on an adaptation of Voltaire's satirical novella, in which the French rationalist and admirer of Isaac Newton directs the intellectual weaponry of the Age of Reason (and Science) upon the perennial follies of humankind.

"The show is on a vast scale, spanning the globe and crammed with characters and incidents — a production on this scale requires the combined forces of the schools of Drama and Music, so we are thrilled at the chance to again profit from Drama's world-renowned excellence in design, production, and performance," said Alan Fletcher, head of the School of Music. "Candide is a radiant theater piece, clearly one of Leonard Bernstein's masterpieces and thus one of the great American works of recent times. It offers dazzling musical fireworks, mordant wit, tenderness and grandeur."

"Candide" tells the story of a young man who must circle the globe trying to find his lover. His adventures take him all over Europe and South America as he tries to secure happiness and maintain a ridiculous optimism in the face of cruelty and oppression. The final advice of "Candide" is to give up trying to make sense of the world and Œcultivate our garden' — inspiring one of Bernstein's best-known lyrics.

In addition to the main-stage season, there will be additional productions and projects during the upcoming season, including PlayGround: a festival of independent student work, repertory productions in the Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theatre, and the spring New Works Festival, a production of scripts by graduate playwrights, in the John Wells Video Studio.

The School of Drama is the nation's most distinguished degree-granting program and is one of five schools within Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts. The College of Fine Arts is a community of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals organized into: Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and their associated centers and programs.

For additional information about the upcoming season or ticket purchases please contact the School of Drama box office at 412-268-2407, Monday-Friday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information on the School of Drama or the College of Fine Arts contact Eric Sloss at 412-268-5765, by email at or visit

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama 2004-2005 Season

Philip Chosky Theatre:

"Arcadia" by Tom Stoppard

  Preview October 28, 2004
  Opening October 29, 2004
  Closing November 6, 2004

"The Alchemist" by Ben Jonson
  director, Di Trevis

  Preview December 2, 2004
  Opening December 3, 2004
  Closing December 11, 2004

The American Play Repertory:
"The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds" by Paul Zindel
  director, Geoffrey Hitch

"Fzzn Grrl" by Mojie Crigler
  director, Jed Allen Harris

"Slide Glide, The Slippery Slope" by Kia Corthron
  director, Mladen Kiselov

  Preview February 28, 2005
  Opening March 3, 2005
  Closing March 26, 2005

Candide" book by Lillian Hellman
  Lyrics, Richard Wilbur
  Music, Leonard Bernstein
  Director, Gregory Lehane

  Preview April 21, 2005
  Opening April 22, 2005
  Closing April 30, 2005

PlayGround - Student Project Week
  Sunday, February 6-13, 2005
  Performances February 11-13, 2005


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