The School of Theatre & Dance at the University of Houston’s Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts is delighted to unveil its highly anticipated 2023-24 season. With an impressive lineup of 11 captivating productions, this season is poised to be the epitome of ambition and creativity.
The season kicks off in September with the daring “Circadian Project” overseen by the Head of the Master of Fine Arts in Acting program Adam Noble. Drawing inspiration from renowned artists such as Jacques Tati, Pina Bauch and Peter Handke, this extraordinary ensemble-building project stands apart from any other. This play will be quickly and ingeniously devised by the ensemble, culminating in a performance without words, leaving the power of human emotion and physical expression to speak for the characters.
“So many of life's profound moments occur in relative silence,” Noble said. “These unspoken, subtle physical and energetic shifts speak volumes, and the nuanced vocabulary of human body language only further reveals the rich emotional worlds we all inhabit. I am excited to delve into this universe of movement for performance with the incoming MFA class and refine their ability to tell detailed, articulate narratives through the instrument of their body.”
In October, "Big Love" comes to the Quintero Theatre, directed by Brandon Weinbrenner, the associate producer and casting director of the Alley Theatre. “This play is an explosion of rebellion onstage,” Weinbrenner said. “At one moment it is brimming with passion and sexuality and in the very next, it turns to vulnerability and reformation. ‘Big Love’ is inherently theatrical in its embrace of all things dramatic and humane. I look forward to discovering, alongside the UH students, what this play means to us in the here and now.”
Get ready for an enthralling theatrical experience this November as "The Skin of Our Teeth" takes the stage. Penned by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thornton Wilder and directed by nationally prominent theatre artist Jack Reuler, this American classic unites comedy and social satire in a thought-provoking masterpiece. Join the Antrobus family of Excelsior, New Jersey, on an extraordinary journey as they bravely confront a series of apocalyptic disasters, narrowly escaping by the "skin of their teeth." With inventive humor and astute social commentary, the play delves into the depths of the human spirit, showcasing both hilarity and poignant reflection. Don't miss this compelling exploration of resilience and adaptability that will leave you thoroughly entertained and inspired.
"She Dead Now,” a world-premiere comedy by playwright Cynthia Garcia, a student at UH’s School of Theatre & Dance, concludes theater productions for the fall semester. Audiences can expect to be taken on a rollercoaster of laughter as this play transforms a solemn occasion into an uproarious farce.
“My aspiration for ‘She Dead Now’ is not only to entertain audiences with its humor but also to impart a valuable message: ‘Make use of today, for tomorrow may never come’, a poignant quote from my father,” Garcia said. “This cherished quote has found a rightful place in the heart of the play.”
Shawanna Renee Rivon, a distinguished alumna of the McGovern College of the Arts and known for her renowned works at Houston-based theaters like the Alley, Stages, and Rec Room, will direct "She Dead Now." Rivon describes it as "a clever, hilarious farce that truly examines family and friends' antics at a Black church funeral. The characters are vibrant, the situations are deliciously embarrassing, and through all of this, it will tug at your heart when you think of your own loved ones. I've never seen a play like this, but I've seen it in reality, and I'm excited that space is being made for this narrative to be told boldly."
Under the direction of the newly appointed director of the dance program in the McGovern College of the Arts Teresa Chapman, the annual Emerging Choreographers Showcase should not be missed. It will feature a diverse selection of new works from up-and-coming UH dancers and choreographers. The showcase displays the creativity and artistic personality of UH dance students on a platform intended to introduce them to the public. Highlighting the choreographers of tomorrow with lighting design by theater design students, this annual audience favorite provides a preview of the evolving world of dance and its next generation of artists. This showcase will round out the semester of incredible performances from the School of Theatre & Dance.
The spring semester commences in February with "Twelfth Night," a timeless William Shakespeare classic brought to life by director Elizabeth Bunch. This comedic tale brims with love, shipwrecks, mistaken identities and romance.
Following the enchanting world of "Twelfth Night," get ready to be swept away into a thought-provoking and witty realm with the spring musical "Urinetown." Directed by Stefan Espinoza, this Tony Award-winning Broadway gem delves into a not-so-distant future plagued by a severe water crisis, where public restrooms incur a hefty fee due to water scarcity. The play challenges societal norms and corporate greed through clever satire and catchy musical numbers, leaving audiences both entertained and contemplative. "Urinetown" weaves comedy, romance and political commentary, ensuring a captivating journey for all.
To bid farewell to the 23-24 season, the School of Theatre & Dance will present the 13th annual 10-Minute Play Festival, showcasing new works from the school's Bachelor of Fine Arts playwriting program. Additionally, Ensemble Dance Works will take the stage, perfectly rounding out this year's season. Ensemble Dance Works features premiere works choreographed by University of Houston dance faculty and guest choreographers, performed by the pre-professional company, the UH Dance Ensemble. UH Dance is excited to introduce works by new full-time faculty Key-Aira Lockett and Travis Prokop, and new adjunct faculty and UH Dance alum Joel Aguilera.
Teresa Chapman states, "With three new faculty members to the UH Dance Program, we're entering an exciting era, fostering a supportive environment for our dance students to thrive.” Guest artists include choreographers Charles M. Patterson and Yoshito Sakuraba. Patterson is a graduate of Boston Conservatory and has performed with Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Sakuraba is an award-winning choreographer, originally from Japan. He is the artistic director of Abarukas, a contemporary dance company based in New York. During his residency at UH this upcoming spring, Sakuraba will work with two students from the UH Department of English and four students from the UH Dance Program to develop an original narrative-based choreographic work that incorporates film, dance and storytelling.
“The Circadian Project” by Adam Noble
Directed by Adam Noble
Performances: Sept. 22, 24, 29, 30 and Oct. 1
Join our incoming MFA Acting cohort for an ensemble-building project like no other. In just over one hundred hours of rehearsal, an entire play without words will be conceived, devised and performed. Exploring the vocabulary of the body, the company will embark on a quest to find the miraculous in the mundane. What insights will we discover? How many characters and lifetimes will we experience? What story will emerge?
“Big Love” by Charles Mee
Directed by Brandon Weinbrenner
Performances: Oct. 6-9, 11, 13, 14, 15
Fifty women have fled to a villa on the Italian coast to avoid having to marry fifty of their cousins in this modern adaptation of Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy The Suppliants. Big Love brings a contemporary (and comedic) sensibility to one of the oldest plays in the Western tradition. When the fifty would-be husbands arrive to claim their resistant brides, the women create a shocking plan to fend off the men’s full-on amorous onslaught and escape their ill-fated marriages.
“The Skin of Our Teeth” by Thornton Wilder
Directed by Jack Reuler
Performances: Nov. 3-6 and 9-12
This Pulitzer Prize-winning American classic from the author of Our Town combines inventive comedy and thoughtful social satire to tell the story of the Antrobus family of Excelsior, New Jersey as they narrowly escape (by the skin of their teeth!) one end-of-world disaster after another. The most epic comedy in the history of American theatre takes you on a wild ride from the Ice Age through the rise and fall of human civilization.
“She Dead Now” by Cynthia Garcia
Directed by ShaWanna Renee Rivon
Performances: Nov. 16, 17, 19
A solemn occasion turns into a full-on farce as the bereaved family, friends, and church members show up to pay their respects to a beloved woman of faith—only to have everything go wrong! As the funeral goes off the rails, old grudges come to the surface and deep secrets are revealed in this world-premiere comedy by UH School of Theatre & Dance playwright Cynthia Garcia
Performances: Dec. 1-2
For over twenty years, the UH School of Theatre & Dance has presented the Emerging Choreographers Showcase to introduce audiences to rising student talent. Students at the school produce, choreograph, perform and design the entire evening, showcasing their skills in a professional theatre setting.
“Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare
Directed by Elizabeth Bunch
Performances: Feb. 23-26, 28, 29 and March 1-3
One of Shakespeare’s greatest comedies, Twelfth Night ponders love lost and found. A shipwreck separates twins Viola and Sebastian, but tragedy quickly turns to comedy when they wash up in a land turned upside-down by love. Mistaken identities and role reversals abound in one of Shakespeare's most inventive romantic romps.
“Fefu and Her Friends” by Maria Irene Fornes
Directed by Paige Rogers
Performances: March 1-3
On a spring day in 1935, the enigmatic Fefu and seven of her female friends gather at Fefu’s New England home to rehearse a charity presentation for a local school. As the day progresses, Fefu’s desire to control the women around her—as well as their own grudges, heartaches, and illnesses—build to a staggering conclusion. Fefu and Her Friends is a landmark in feminist theatre and an American avant-garde classic.
“Urinetown” Book by Greg Kotis & Music by Mark Hollmann
Directed by Stefan Espinosa
Performances: March 29-31 and April 1, 4-7
In the not-so-distant future, a terrible water shortage has led to a crisis! If the poor don’t obey the strict laws prohibiting free urination, they’ll be sent to the dreaded and mysterious “Urinetown.” But the poor stage a revolt, led by a brave young hero, for the freedom to pee “wherever you like, whenever you like, for as long as you like, and with whomever you like.” This Tony Award-winning Broadway favorite is a smart, wickedly funny, satirical romp.
10-Minute Play Festival
Directed by Various Guest Directors
Performances: April 26-28
The UH School of Theatre & Dance is excited to present the twelfth annual 10-Minute Play Festival! This popular showcase highlights some of the best new writing from our B.F.A. playwriting program.
UH Ensemble Dance Works
Performances: April 26-28
The spring concert features original dance theatre by faculty and guest artists as performed by our pre-professional dance company, the UH Dance Ensemble. This show is an annual audience favorite! Come see students shine in new works created especially for them.
General Public - $20; Staff/Faculty/Alumni - $15; Seniors and Students - $15. Contact the KGMCA Box Office at (713) 743-3388 or purchase tickets online at: https://kgmcaboxofficetheatredance.universitytickets.com/?cid=169
- Stephanie Berry, Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts