Performing Arts Preview:
The UC San Diego Department of Theatre & Dance will present the African-American experience masterpiece “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, as the curtain rises on its Winter Quarter Season.
Following this drama, the UCSD department will stage the Shakespearean tragedy “Othello,” and the powerful modern British dramas “Revolt She Said. Revolt Again” by Alice Birch, and “The Skriker” by Caryl Churchill.
The undergraduate dance show “winterWORKS 2018,” directed by Yolande Snaith (with choreography by Alison Smith and Grace Jun), will conclude the program.
Tickets for each show are $10-$20 and available at (858) 534-4574 and theatre.ucsd.edu
“A Raisin in the Sun” follows a family in Chicago who feel confined by their living space and social roles. An insurance settlement after the death of a family member offers them a chance for improvement, but individual priorities conflict.
Hansberry, born in Chicago in 1930, attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and was the first black woman to have a play on Broadway. At age 29, she won the New York Drama Critics Award, making her the youngest person and the first African-American to earn that distinction.
Throughout her life, Hansberry was immersed in a stimulating social context. Her father, a Realtor, brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, requesting legitimization of his purchase of a home in an all-white neighborhood of Chicago, in the days when Jews and people of color were not allowed to own property in many cities, La Jolla included.
Her uncle, a professor at Harvard University who was equally motivated by racial inequality, started the Black Culture major in the history department.
In addition to playwriting, Hansberry was involved in civil rights, working at a Harlem-based newspaper along with intellectuals W.E.B. Dubois and Paul Robeson. She was also a friend of singer Nina Simone, who wrote the song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black” for her. Eventually, Hansberry became the godmother of Simone’s daughter.
Unfortunately, Hansberry’s promising career was cut short in 1965 when she died at age 34 from pancreatic cancer.
• “A Raisin in the Sun” will feature performances by Kimberly Monks, Janet Fiki, Amara Granderson, Sidney Hill, Xavier Clark and Michael Rishawn, directed by UCSD acting teacher Kim Rubinstein. Preview 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Mandell Weiss Theater in the campus Theatre District; 7:30 p.m. shows Feb. 9, 10, 15, 16, and 17; 2 p.m. Feb. 10.
Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice,” first performed in 1604 by The Kings Men, will be directed by MFA student Dylan Key, who trained with renowned director Anne Bogart.
Othello will be played by Deleon Dallas, and Iago by Kyle Hester, who studied at NYU, Stella Adler Institute and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before coming to UCSD. The role of Desdemona belongs to Claire Roberson.
• “Othello” takes the Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre stage on campus, 7 p.m. Feb. 21 (preview) and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 23, 24 and March 1, 2 and 3; matinee 2 p.m. Feb. 24.
“Revolt She Said. Revolt Again,” is directed by Sean Graney, who is visiting the theater department from Chicago. Costumes will be designed by Annie Le, who “wowed” everyone with her Louis XIV outfits for last quarter’s play, “The Green Cockatoo,” set at the start of the French Revolution.
For “Revolt,” Le said “everyone will be wearing something red and brown so when together, they look like one unit, but when apart, they look like regular individuals.”
In this work, Birch, already an award-winning playwright at the tender age of 30, puts forth a call for women to revolt and dismantle anything that is complicit in their oppression. “My writing has always been much louder than I am,” she confessed.
Director Graney brought the play to UCSD because “we need to fight the obsession that men are better than women!” He added that audiences will find “Revolt” to be “shocking, exciting, aggressive and ... necessary. It will, hopefully, lead to many personal revolutions.”
• “Revolt” is set for 7 p.m. March 6 (preview), in the Forum Theater Building with 7:30 p.m. shows March 8, 9, 10, 16 and 17; 2 p.m. March 10.
“The Skriker,” penned in 1994 by Churchill (now age 79), has been described as “a fantastical story of love, loss and revenge that blends naturalism, horror and magical realism.” Churchill, a postmodernist concerned with the abuse of power in society, has won four Obie Awards during her career.
“The Skriker” is actually an ancient shape-shifting fairy, something like the grim reaper. When it’s in a human form, the Skriker speaks English but otherwise speaks a nonsensical jumbled word salad.
In this play, the Skriker morphs into plethora of objects and people as it pursues Lily and Josie, two teenage mothers it has somehow befriended.
The work is directed by Ph.D. student Jon Reimer, who notes that “we have a large cast of 18, and my aim with all the actors is to make the audience feel claustrophobic in the small confined space of the Arthur Wagner Theater.”
• See “The Skriker” 7:30 p.m. March 13, 14, 16, 17 and 2 p.m. March 17 in the Arthur Wagner Theatre.
winterWORKS 2018 is directed by Snaith, known for her innovative moves, outrageous costumes, and sets filled with odd contraptions. Her work for The Big Screen includes choreographing Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut,” in 1997. She was also the choreographic adviser for David Hinton’s 1999 film, “Birds.”
Snaith will be assisted by Grace Jun, a hip-hop specialist who teaches at San Diego City College, and Alison Smith who describes herself as “an anthropologist, surfer and yoga teacher who teaches ballet.”
• winterWORKS performances are set for 7:30 p.m. March 15, 16, 17 in the Mandell Weiss Theatre.