Winter Reading Series: New tales of two old texts

Publication Date

The Theater and Dance Department’s Winter Reading Series, to be presented Feb. 1-5, provides an opportunity to examine classical texts through the lenses of contemporary playwrights.

All readings will be held in Old Chapel and are appropriate for all ages. They are free to the Union community and unticketed, though reservations are encouraged.

Students in a wide range of majors will present readings of two plays.

“Pride and Prejudice” is by Kate Hamill, the Wall Street Journal’s 2017 Playwright of the Year. It is a spirited adaption of the beloved classic novel by Jane Austen, which looks at the labors and laughs involved in finding a life partner.

Show times are 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1 and Feb. 3, and 2 p.m. on Feb. 4.

Students in a rehearsal for a theatrical production

Photo by Paige Curran '23

“Everybody,” adapted from the late medieval morality play, “Everyman,” one of the first recorded plays in the English language, is by two-time Obie winner and MacArthur Fellow Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. A story that examines the human condition in the face of mortality, it was a finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.

Show times are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 2 and Feb. 4, and 2 p.m. on Feb. 5.

“We’re excited to share these new/old works as topics of discussion and sources of dialogue and reflection for our community, ” said Keelie Sheridan, artist-in-residence of acting and performing, who directed the readings. “It's important to me as a storyteller to always ask what relationship a piece of theater is trying to have with its audience and what classical works of literature can offer us in 2023.”

In opening these older texts to contemporary sensibilities, Sheridan said both playwrights “acknowledge the circumstances in which the originals were written and the circumstances in which we live now.”

Sarah Wright ’23, a biomedical engineering major who takes on the role of Mrs. Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice,” said attending the staged readings is “a different way to envision theater. And for those new to theater performances, it’s a way to get their feet wet and see what’s out there. This particular adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is easy for anyone to follow and extremely funny and dramatized for comedic effect. It’s impossible to walk away from the show and not find it funny.”

That sentiment is echoed by Thomas Raimo ’24, a neuroscience major and theater minor who plays Mr. Bennet.

“Every actor has a propensity for pushing every scene to its limits, maxing out the absurdity and comedy, while also being able to explore the tenderness of certain scenes when needed,” Raimo said.

“The lack of technical elements doesn’t detract from this cast’s ability to tell you the story of Darcy and Lizzy, of the ridiculous Bennet household and the affable Bingley. I can promise that this production of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ will make you laugh, as it has for our cast throughout the rehearsal process.”

In “Everybody,” psychology major Jerome Anderson ’26 is cast in the dual roles of Somebody 1 and Beauty. He offers this simple directive to prospective viewers: “Come and let us guide you through the journey that is ‘Everybody.’ It’s fun, wacky and weird!”