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Feb. 21: Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Focuses on Dichotomy Of Men and Women in 2008-2009 Season of Plays


Eric Sloss                           

Carnegie Mellon School of Drama Focuses on Dichotomy
Of Men and Women in 2008-2009 Season of Plays

PITTSBURGH — Elizabeth Bradley, head of the Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, has announced the 2008-2009 drama season, which features plays that speak to the different ways men and women process experience throughout history and across the world. The performances will take place in the Philip Chosky Theater, the Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theater, the John Wells Video Studio and various locations around the Carnegie Mellon campus and Pittsburgh.

"This season is truly a banquet of styles, eras, ideas and passions, which includes the first-ever staging of a Chinese play in our regular season, the creation of an original revue, three powerful political playwrights, and three serious feminists," Bradley said. "We will range from traditional realism and classical comedy to cutting-edge imagistic and physical staging."

The 2008-2009 season includes "The Other Shore" by Gao Xinjiang; "Into the Woods," a musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine; "The London Cuckolds," by Edward Ravenscroft, adapted by Terry Johnson; and "A Bite of Brecht," a collection of musical cabaret and spoken highlights from Brecht's repertoire.

Starting this season, students in the Production Dramaturgy Program will hold regular post-performance talkbacks with the audience, casts and crews following the Tuesday evening performances. The dramaturgs are also available to discuss the plays with classes, student groups and public organizations. Contact Michael Chemers, dramaturgy option coordinator, at or 412-268-2399, to schedule a session with a dramaturg.

Also, check out Lab A6 at in the weeks around each play's performance dates for behind-the-scenes discussions and analysis with directors and theater experts from the Pittsburgh community.

All performances take place at 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. More information about each production is listed below. Subscriptions to the 2008-2009 season will be available after March 1. Call the box office at 412-268-2407 for package options, prices or to place a subscription order.

The School of Drama is one of the nation's most distinguished degree-granting theatre programs and is one of five schools within Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts, a community of nationally and internationally recognized artists and professionals organized into Architecture, Art, Design, Drama and Music, and their associated centers and programs. Alumni of the School of Drama have appeared on television and Broadway and in film, garnering many awards and accolades.

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

About the Performances

"The Other Shore," director to be announced
Preview: Oct. 2; Opening: Oct. 3; Talkback: Oct. 7; Closing: Oct. 11. Chosky Theater
Gao Xinjiang's plays have incited political debates around the world. After the government criticized his 1983 "Bus Stop" for being anti-socialist, Gao went into exile but returned in 1984. In 1986, "The Other Shore" was cancelled after a month of rehearsals at the prominent Beijing People's Art Theatre, forcing Gao to flee China again. Gao found success in the West as a playwright and dramaturg, winning the 2000 Nobel Prize for Literature for the novel "Soul Mountain." Gao's theatre is powerfully actor-centered, almost dance-like with a heavy emphasis on physical strength and dexterity, acrobatics and tumbling, chanting, stylized movement and gesture, and instant transformations of character. The setting of his plays is scenically minimalist with integrated soundscapes that create a saturated and heightened visual world.

"Into the Woods," director to be announced
Preview: Nov. 13; Opening: Nov. 14; Talkback: Nov. 18; Closing: Nov. 22. Chosky Theater
The delicacy and agility of master lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim is brilliantly illustrated in this collaboration with American theatrical director and librettist, James Lapine. Their spellbinding show has been enchanting audiences since 1986. Based on Bruno Bettleheim's book "The Uses of Enchantment," "Into the Woods" has an intricate structure and layered complexity often missing in Broadway musicals. The play twists the stories of Cinderella, Jack the Giant-Slayer, Little Red Riding Hood and Rapunzel into one extravagant master plot that enfranchises women in a way not typical of fairy tales.

"The London Cuckolds," directed by Don Wadsworth
Preview: Feb. 19; Opening: Feb. 20; Talkback: Feb. 24; Closing: Feb. 28. Chosky Theater
Originally penned by Restoration playwright Edward Ravenscroft in 1681, this fast-paced bedroom romp has been retooled for a modern sensibility by contemporary farceur-extraordinaire Terry Johnson. Johnson's genius has produced several plays that combine the refreshing directness of the 20th century with the authenticity of the 17th. The result here is a play that critics of its first production at the Royal National Theatre in 1998 called "frank, fresh and fruity." In this raunchy, witty and ribald play, three husbands each claim that they have hit upon the most effective method of keeping a wife virtuous: the first relies on innocence, the second on wit and the third on piety. However, three lusty rogues are out to prove them wrong, but the winsome wives turn the tables on their hapless husbands and brainless beaux.

"A Bite of Brecht"

Preview: April 15; Opening: April 16; Talkback: April 21; Closing: April 25. Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theater
Bertolt Brecht was arguably the most important director, playwright and dramaturg of the 20th century. His work proved to most critics that radical political drama, agitprop and the nonrealistic could nevertheless be intensely theatrical, literary, compelling and beautiful. He wrote plays, diaries, poetry, theoretical treatises and short stories. His collaboration with Kurt Weill had nearly as significant an impact on American popular music. The suggestion of Barbara MacKenzie Wood, faculty member in the School of Drama, a Brechtian actress and director, this project will be created collaboratively with Australian Brecht cabaret interpreter Robyn Archer and will combine highlights from Brecht's repertoire into an evening of powerful theatre.

The School of Drama will also offer the following plays directed by students. Tickets are free. Talkbacks are not offered for student-directed shows.

  • "Heart of a Dog" by Mikhail Bulgakov: Nov. 5-7, John Wells Video Studio.
  • "Eurydice" by Sarah Ruhl: Nov. 12-14, Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theater.
  • "Mill on the Floss" by Helen Edmundson: Dec. 3-Dec. 6, Helen Wayne Rauh Studio Theater.
  • "The Illusion" by Tony Kushner, an adaptation of Pierre Corneille: April 22-24, venue to be announced.
  • "Someone Who'll Watch Over Me" by Frank McGuiness: Dates and venue to be announced.
  • "The Father" by August Strindberg: Dates and venue to be announced.
  • "One Flea Spare" by Naomi Wallace: Dates and venue to be announced.