The Michigan State University Department of Theatre announces its 2021-2022 season, which focuses on the examination of the contemporary understanding of gender.
“One of the greatest opportunities in theatre is the exploration of the effects of social and cultural norms on society. These scripts are intended to provoke discussion and drive our students and audiences to better champion inclusivity within our community,” said Stephen Di Benedetto, Department of Theatre Chair.
The season includes the department’s eighth ĭmáGen collaborative production with the Wharton Center Institute for Arts & Creativity. This year’s ĭmáGen production, Particle, is a new musical written by Selda Sahin and Derek Gregor. The production will be workshopped over a three-week period to serve as a vivid learning experience for college and high school actors to work alongside professionals. This year’s guest director is Autumn Reeser, known for her roles as Taylor Townsend on the Fox series, The O.C., and Lizzie Grant on HBO’s Entourage.
Particle follows 16-year-old Cora who gets recruited onto a professional eSports team. She’s always been her brother’s gaming sidekick and as the youngest member of a world-class team, she feels in way over her head. When her brother gets sick, she wants to quit, but he convinces her to stay, and she makes her way to the championship. Showtimes are Friday, September 24, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, September 26, at 2 p.m. in the Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre.
October delivers two shows, thanks to the new Storefront Theatre Initiative. Storefront shows will focus on dynamic roles to showcase and challenge our acting students to work within a shorter rehearsal period and with less resources. Penelopiad, written by Margaret Atwood and directed by Abbie Cathcart, is a poetic, feminist re-imagining of Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. The play is beautifully rendered in both prose and verse in contemporary language and is brimming with powerful symbolism that will leave audiences shaken. Performance dates are October 5-9 in the Studio 60 Theatre.
One of the greatest opportunities in theatre is the exploration of the effects of social and cultural norms on society. These scripts are intended to provoke discussion and drive our students and audiences to better champion inclusivity within our community.Stephen Di Benedetto, Department of Theatre Chair
Next is A Contemporary American’s Guide to a Successful Marriage © 1959, writtenby Robert Bastron and directed by Rob Roznowski. Set against the backdrop of the late 1950s and told in the style of the social guidance films of that era, this satirical comedy looks at the joys of marriage promised in popular culture and shatters those myths by following two young couples from courtship to marriage and the complications that come after. Performance dates are October 15-17 and 19-24 at the Wharton Center’s Pasant Theatre.
November brings a modern dark comedy that follows the interconnected stories of body-positive wannabe influencer Wendy, her internet trolls, and the real people behind the awful comments we all read on Instagram. Written by Kari Bentley-Quinn and directed by Claire Wilcher, Wendy and the Neckbeards is an examination of the current era of internet harassment, toxic masculinity, and the cycle of abuse towards women in America. Performance dates are November 12-14 and 16-21 in the Arena Theatre.
The 15th Annual Freshman Showcase, directed by Sarah Hendrickson, takes over Studio 60 just before the students slide into winter break. Together We Will Improvise is a light-hearted evening of improvisation to bond the Department of Theatre freshmen on their creative journey through undergrad. Meet the next generation as they take your suggestions to create a spontaneous, collaborative performance. Performance dates are December 2-5 in Studio 60.
In February, the new musical comedy, Head Over Heels, is set to the music of iconic 1980’s all-female rock band, The Go-Go’s, and adapted by James Magruder. It follows the escapades of a royal family on an outrageous journey to save their beloved kingdom from extinction only to discover the key to their realm’s survival lies within each of their own hearts. Directed and choreographed by Brad Willcuts with musical direction by Dave Wendelberger, performance dates are February 18-20 and 22-27 in the Fairchild Theatre.
Next, director Rob Roznowski takes audiences to Greenwich Village in the summer of ’69, when a routine police raid erupts into a full-scale riot that will become an impetus of the modern gay rights movement. Ike Holter’s Hit the Wall tells the story of the historic Stonewall Riots with a spirit of rebellion and self-affirmation. The historic confrontation upended the marginalization and prejudice that incited the LGBQT+ community and reveals 10 unlikely revolutionaries, caught in the turmoil and fighting, to claim, “I was there.” Performance dates are March 18-20 and 22-27 in the Arena Theatre.
Closing out the mainstage season is Monsieur d’Éon is a Woman, written by Mark Brownell and directed by Deric McNish. This biting political comedy, told as a sexy, swashbuckling romp, is the true and heroic story of Charles d’Éon de Beaumont, an 18th century spy, soldier, intellectual, Freemason, and diplomat for the French courts who never allowed themself to be defined by a single gender. Performance dates are April 21-24 in the Pasant Theatre.
For a complete description of each show and a schedule of all events, visit theatre.msu.edu/productions/21-22.
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Selda Sahin and Derek Gregor
September 24 & 26, 2021
By Margaret Atwood
October 5-9, 2021
Studio 60 Theatre
A Contemporary American’s Guide to a Successful Marriage © 1959
By Robert Bastron
October 15-24, 2021
Wendy and the Neckbeards
By Kari Bentley-Quinn
November 12-21, 2021
Together We Will Improvise
December 2-5, 2021
Head Over Heels
Songs by The Go-Go’s
Based on ‘The Arcadia’ by Sir Philip Sidney
Conceived and Original Book by Jeff Whitty
Adapted by James Magruder
February 18-27, 2022
Hit the Wall
By Ike Holter
March 18-27, 2022
Monsieur d’Éon is a Woman
By Mark Brownell
April 21-24, 2022