In a return to live performances, Arizona State University's School of Music, Dance and Theatre announces the upcoming 2021–22 theater season.
“We had a challenging year doing virtual performances that were experimental,” said Mary McAvoy, associate professor and community engagement coordinator. “There’s a lot of joy being back in rehearsal spaces and feeling like we are starting anew.”
This year’s ambitious season portrays the range of human experience, from birth to death and the journeys in between that connect us all. The season selection committee focused on amplifying the voices of underrepresented writers, directors and actors who communicate important societal issues through their work.
“We are lucky in the university space,” McAvoy said. “We can be path-breaking. We can take risks and do new things.”
“EVERYBODY,” written by award-winning Black playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, is a modern take on the 15th-century play “Everyman.” Each night, a cast member is chosen by lottery to play the protagonist, representing the search for meaning and connection in life. Third-year MFA Theatre for Youth and Communities student Kristina Friedgen will direct the play.
Friedgen said she believes in the power of fostering student creativity and compassion through theater.
“Theater brings people together and lets you walk in someone else’s experience for a short while,” she said.
“Healing Wars” is an immersive, multimedia work that tells the historical stories of pain and loss experienced by both Civil War and modern soldiers. Originally created in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, it boldly addresses the trauma of war. The production — created by dance legend Liz Lerman, Institute Professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and directed by Keith Thompson, assistant director of the dance program and associate professor in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre — tells the haunting story through dance, music and theater.
The season brings the opportunity to laugh and learn as well. “La Comedia of Errors,” a bilingual adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors,” features mistaken identities and gives the audience the opportunity to see the world from another perspective. The play will be guest directed by Ricky Araiza, artistic director of Teatro Bravo! and ASU theater alum. According to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, “Whether you speak English, Spanish or both, you will enjoy this hilarious production.”
The poetic play “the living’life of the daughter mira” will be guest directed by Meghan Finn, artistic director of The Tank in New York. It presents the adult manifestation of a newborn baby girl adapting to her new life in the neonatal intensive care unit while her family struggles with her arrival.
The theater season will also include staged readings where the audiences can participate in the creative process of ASU. TheatreLABs are held several times a year in the black-box theater at the Nelson Fine Arts Center Studio 133. Students perform new pieces written by ASU MFA playwrights to develop these works in progress. The performances are free and open to the public. Audiences are part of the process, providing feedback that helps the next step of the play’s development.
According to Heather Landes, director of ASU’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre, the TheatreLABs are important to ASU theater’s commitment to the development of new work and the promotion of diverse stories.
For all shows, tickets are available online three weeks in advance through the Herberger Institute Box Office. Ticket prices and venues vary.
All attendees at performances are required to adhere to ASU COVID-19 policies, which are consistent with CDC guidelines for colleges and universities. Face coverings are required in School of Music, Dance and Theatre indoor performance spaces. University COVID-19 information can be found at coronavirus.asu.edu.
ASU 2021–22 theater season
Written by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Kristina Friedgen
7:30 p.m. Oct. 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23
2 p.m. Oct. 17 and 24
By Liz Lerman
Directed by Keith Thompson
Co-production with music, dance and theatre
7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13
2 p.m. Nov. 7 and 14
Galvin Playhouse Theatre
“La Comedia of Errors”
Adapted from Shakespeare by Lydia Garcia and Bill Rauch
Guest directed by Ricky Araiza
7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 19. 24, 25 and 26
2 p.m. Feb. 20 and 27
Galvin Playhouse Theatre
“the living’life of the daughter mira”
By Matthew Paul Olmos
Guest directed by Meghan Finn
7:30 p.m. March 25, 26, 31, April 1 and 2
2 p.m. March 27 and April 3
2 p.m. Oct. 31
7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and 21
7:30 p.m. March 20, 27 and April 3
Nelson Fine Arts Center room 133