Music, Drama, Dance
Patch.com La Jolla
By Pat Launer
Theater gourmets and gourmands, lift your metaphorical forks! The UCSD School of Theatre and Dance is serving up a mouth-watering smorgasbord of theatrical treats.
“We are the most diverse graduate program on the campus,” says Allyson Green , chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance. “And we have a diverse season, with big shows and small, contemporary and classic.”
The winter classics include a large-cast musical – “The Threepenny Opera” — and the 1890 Ibsen drama, “ Hedda Gabler .” The undergraduate production will be Lanford Wilson’s Obie Award-winning 1973 play, “The Hot l Baltimore ,” directed by faculty member Kim Rubenstein.
Then there are the Dance Theatre Thesis Works, choreography thesis projects from the first class of dance/theater grad students, and “ WinterWORKS ,” dance pieces created by faculty choreographers. And coming in April, the 11th annual Baldwin New Play Festival, featuring world premieres from the MFA students in playwriting.
First up is “The Threepenny Opera” (January 27-February 5), directed by 3rd year directing MFA student Jeff Wienckowski.
The iconic musical, created by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill, premiered in Berlin in 1928. This production will use the 1956 Marc Blitzstein translation.
Adapted from John Gay’s 1728 opera-ballad, “The Beggar’s Opera,” “Threepenny” shines a dark light on the Victorian English underworld and its charismatic centerpiece, Macheath (the notorious “Mack the Knife”), an amoral, anti-heroic criminal.
“We’re making the Potiker Theatre into a giant Hooverville ,” says Wienckowski, who’s re-setting the play in the Depression era, circa 1932. “It will be like beggars are living there. There’s a huge structure of bunk-beds, and all 24 actors will be onstage all the time.
“There are definite parallels between 1920s Berlin , 1930s America and now. It’s all about the frustration of the time. I think the real message of the piece is to question the political and economic systems around you, and don’t become apathetic to them. I’m hoping this setting will provoke audiences and make them think about contemporary times. Maybe they’ll even get angry and do something.”
The other thought-provoking classic, “ Hedda Gabler ,” will be directed by Anthony Luciano , 2nd year graduate student in directing.
“’ Hedda ’ is a 120 year-old play, fairly distant from us. So we’re setting it in modern times. It’s not meant to be a museum piece.”
The title character is an enigmatic heroine, doggedly and desperately seeking (depending on your perspective) power or love.
“I think Hedda foreshadows life in the 20th century,” says Luciano . “Massively brutal. She can be a complete and total monster, but she’s a woman trapped in her time. As a caged animal, she’s a version of all of us. She literally fights to stay alive.
“There are really two stories of self-destruction here, which end in a suicide and a murder. The drinking, whoring writer Lovborg is no hero, either. He might be a remarkable artist, or he might be just a drunk. Hedda is jealous and terrified of his lust for life. The play has a veneer of materiality, but underneath, it pulses with poetry.”
The dizzying creativity should whet the appetite of any theaterlover. Get sated this season at UCSD.
The winter season productions at UCSD:
“The Threepenny Opera,” January 29-February 5, Potiker Theatre
Dance Theater Thesis Works, featuring work by graduate students Rebecca Salzer and Alicia
Peterson Baskel , February 9-12, Potiker Theatre
“ Hedda Gabler ,” February 18-26, Mandell Weiss Forum Theatre
“The Hot l Baltimore ,” February 22-26, Arthur Wagner Theatre
“ winterWORKS ,” dance theater pieces created by faculty choreographers, March 9-12, Potiker Theatre
The 11th Annual Baldwin New Play Festival, April 13-23, various campus locations
Tickets ($10-20) are available at 858-534-4574 or http://theatre.ucsd.edu