‘The Undertaking’ world premiere Sept. 17

“The Undertaking, a new work of investigative theater by the artist-led, Brooklyn-based company The Civilians, premieres at Connecticut College on Sept. 17 before it begins its New York run. The performance will take place at 7:30 p.m. in Palmer Auditorium, presented by the onStage Guest Artist Series.

“The Undertaking” explores the “Near Death Experience”; when someone goes to the beyond and back and can then tell us what’s there on the other side, and more importantly what it really might mean to be alive. Written and directed by Steve Cosson, founding artistic director of The Civilians, ”The Undertaking” is a playful and profound 21st-century take on the classic trip to the underworld. Using transcripts of actual conversations with shamans, morticians, philosophers, and mystics as their script, two actors toe the precipice, inhabiting the twilight between being and non-being, transcendent visions with ayahuasca, flirtations with existential dread, and bouts of cosmic bliss. Inventive video and sound contribute to this engrossing attempt to see the unseeable, moving toward the light while illuminating how to live.

“We are delighted to premiere this exciting new play at Connecticut College,” said Robert A. Richter ‘82, the College’s director of arts programming. “This is a great example of the innovative, inspiring work the College brings to the region. It’s not often we get the opportunity to be in the audience for a world premiere -- it will be a very exciting evening!”

An Obie Award-winning theater group, The Civilians create new theater from creative investigations into the most vital questions of the present. “The company’s work is grounded in investigative theater, an artistic practice rooted in the process of creative inquiry. Investigative theater brings artists into dynamic engagement with the subject of their work; the artists look outward in pursuit of pressing questions, often engaging with individuals and communities in order to listen, make discoveries, and challenge habitual ways of knowing,” a phrase set forth in its mission statement.

The work will premiere on Sept. 21, 2016, at the BAM Next Wave Festival in New York before traveling to Paris as part of the Brooklyn-Paris Exchange.

Tickets are $24; Seniors: $21; Students: $12 (General Admission). For information on onStage subscriptions, which provide discounted tickets, call 860-439-ARTS (2787) or email onstage@conncoll.edu.

Visit http://onstage.conncoll.edu for additional information about performances and tickets.

September 8, 2016