By Ben Theriault, Staff Writer
This year the USM Theater Department will offer an exciting and eclectic variety of shows ranging from horror and romance drama to political farce and poetry. All performances will be housed in Russell Hall on the Gorham campus.
USM’s rendition of Henry James’s grim gothic-horror, The Turn of the Screw, served as the first in a series of upcoming plays this year. The story examines the life of an ex-governess who becomes tormented by unknown forces while raising two children. The play, based on the 1998 novella and 1950 Broadway show, was performed at Russell Hall last Thursday and Friday.
The next show will be Moliere’s French-masterpiece, Tartuffe. A careful meditation on the dangers of misplaced faith, this classic religious satire follows the deceitful Tartuffe, a faux prophet, as he tricks a family into losing nearly everything they own. This performance will begin October 19 and end on the 28 with tickets ranging between eight and sixteen dollars.
On December 6 through December 9 catch USM’s original A Winter Idyll… With Spring in Sight, a carefully crafted combination of spoken word performance and dance. This show will be brought to fruition by USM Theater Department’s own Andrew Harris, who will be directing, and Maria Tzianabos, who will be conducting choreography. Tickets again will cost between eight and sixteen dollars.
This Spring, USM will put on contemporary musical, Unlock’d. The critically acclaimed show initially debuted off Broadway in 2013 and is written by Sam Carner of Falmouth, Maine. Based on the poem Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope, the show attempts to satirize courtship customs by showing the absurd downward spiral of events following a stolen lock of hair. This play will offer USM participants and viewers an exciting experience. According to Theater Major DJ Monteith (who has performed in Under Milk Wood and Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom) USM has acquired the rights to this show and thus will be setting the standard for future performances—it can be seen March 1 to 10 for a price of ten to twenty two dollars.
USM’s final full-length production this academic year will be The Foreigner, a thoughtful and comedic evaluation of racism in the South. The story follows the forlorn Charlie Baker, who is staying in a lodge in Georgia as his wife is currently dying. As a benevolent joke, his companion Froggy begins to tell people that Charlie cannot speak English because he is a foreigner from a distant country. Once this premise is established, Charlie inadvertently begins to observe a multitude of secrets as the other guests talk freely in front of him and chaos ensues. Catch The Foreigner through April 19 to 28 for eight to sixteen dollars.
Lastly, USM will host the Theater Department’s showcase—an event where students from the program will be free to perform whatever they choose. This is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Theater Department and to witness USM’s performers do what they deem best. This will be a one night only event on May 2. There are no tickets necessary as the only price will be a suggested donation.
While parts these productions are generally reserved for Theater Majors, there are ways non-majors can still actively engage with the Department. Theater Major Blaise Garcia (Assistant Stage Manager in A Man of No Importance and Sound Board Operator in Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom) noted that the Student Performing Arts (SPA), a peer run organization, is an excellent way to become involved while simultaneously pursuing other studies. As a group they promote the department and host small black box productions in the basement of Russell Hall. Gacia stated that anyone can audition and that participation goes far beyond just acting.
Another Department Major, Emma Zerba (Performer in Neighborhood 3: Requisition of Doom), explained that the department has a bit of everything for everyone. She stated that “You don’t even have to be interested in a theatre career to learn and take things away that are useful in your day to day life—the program is great for expanding your horizons and trying new things.”
Both Zerba and Garcia spoke positively on program expansions, which they feel expands the opportunities for those already in the program and for those that may be interested.
While there are numerous ways one can participate in these productions, Monteith believes that simply going out and seeing the shows is the best way to engage with the art and show support for peers.
To learn more about the theater program visit the Theater Departments page on the USM website. For in person inquiries, Garcia suggests visiting the department head Andrew Harris or Assistant Theater Professor, Sara Valentine. All tickets can be purchased on the USM website or in person at Russell Hall.