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An African-influenced production of Shakespeare and a contemporary play about trust and betrayal will comprise the fall semester theater department productions at Connecticut College. Auditions for "The Tempest," by William Shakespeare, and "Doubt, A Parable," by John Patrick Shanley, are scheduled for Friday, Sept. 11, in Palmer Auditorium, Room 202, with callbacks on Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 13. Auditions are open to Connecticut College students only.
"The Tempest" will be featured during Fall Weekend, with performances in Tansill Theater at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 22, 23 and 24, and at 2 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25. "The Tempest," a comedy believed to have been written around 1610, tells the story of a shipwreck on an island inhabited by a banished sorcerer, his teenaged daughter, a half-human monster and an ethereal enslaved sprite.
Since the 1950s, it has often been interpreted as a parable of colonialism, with the monster and sprite representing indigenous people subjugated by foreign powers. Guest director Brian Jennings developed his interpretation of the work while participating in artistic exchanges to Cape Verde over the past several years.
"Using elements of African theater practice, ensemble storytelling, movement and music, we will create a unique, contemporary interpretation which explores the dynamics of power and imperialism contained in Shakespeare's play," he said.
Designers for the production will be theater department lecturers Sabrina Notarfrancisco for costumes and Tim Golebiewski for sets. The production will feature lighting design by David Kahn '06, whose cross-cultural film "The Bombay Project" won the College's Oakes and Louise Ames Prize for best senior honors thesis in 2006.
"Doubt, A Parable" will be performed Nov. 19-22 under the direction of Visiting Assistant Professor Nancy Hoffman. The play focuses on the conflict between a strict nun who is principal of a Catholic school and a young parish priest, whom she suspects of molesting a student. A film adaptation starring Meryl Street was released in 2008.
The theme of conflict between generations, along with spare and beautiful writing, make this play "a wonderful acting exercise for students," Hoffman said.
The "Doubt" of the title refers to two central issues: first, whether a religious authority figure has molested a student, and secondly, whether the nun is acting immorally in order to provide an unsubstantiated hunch.
"Cutting across the grain of this central question is also the element of race relations in the 1960s. And Shanley does all this with just four characters and three simple settings. I think the play is, indeed, a masterpiece," Hoffman said.
Performances of "Doubt" will be Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 19, 20, and 21 at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21 and 21 at 2 p.m. in Tansill Theater.
Tickets for both "Doubt" and "The Tempest" are $6 for students and $8 for general admission. They will be available starting in September through the Connecticut College box office at 860-439-ARTS.