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Harry Hope Theatre 2013-14 Season of Shows

Written by Christopher J. Herman

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Willimantic, Conn. - The Theatre program at Eastern Connecticut State University is pleased to announce its fall 2013-spring 2014 Harry Hope Theatre performance schedule. The first production of the season, "Dancing At Lughnasa," written by Brian Friel and directed by J. J. Cobb, will run Oct. 10-13 and Oct. 15-16, 2013. Showings are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 4 p.m. and Tuesday-Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. All shows are in the Harry Hope Theatre.

The play "is set in County Donegal in 1936, and explores five sisters at a crossroads in their lives," said Performing Arts Department Chair David Pellegrini. "Through humor, colorful dialogue and beautifully-drawn characterizations, this Tony Award-winning play delves into the bonds of sisterhood, faith and social change in Ireland between the two world wars."

Frank Rich, New York Times theater critic, in his 1991 review of the play's Broadway production after successful runs in Ireland and London reported that "... this play does exactly what theater was born to do, carrying both its characters and audience aloft on those waves of distant music and ecstatic release that, in defiance of all language and logic, let us dance and dream just before night must fall." It is no wonder that Director Cobb calls this "one of my favorite plays of all time!"

"The Skin of Our Teeth," written by Thornton Wilder and directed by Jerry Winters, will run Nov. 19-24, 2013. Showings are Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Harry Hope Theatre.  "'The Skin of Our Teeth' is an American classic by Thornton Wilder, who also penned 'Our Town' and won Pulitzer Prizes for both," said Pellegrini.
 
As envisioned by guest director and long-time Eastern faculty member Jerry Winters, this social and political satire on the indomitable American spirit, which Wilder wrote immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, is updated to consider more recent historical contexts.    

When initially conceptualizing the play with Set Designer Kristen Morgan, Winters offered the following observation, "The audience will experience the stage performance, as well as live 'framed moments,' which will create a subtle through line about how the media both frames and manipulates our perception of disasters."  

      
"'The Skin of Our Teeth' stands head and shoulders above the monotonous plane of our moribund theater -- an original, gay-hearted play that is now and again profoundly moving, as a genuine comedy should be," said New York Times critic Brooks Atkinson. Ellen Brodie, professor and director of theatre, agreed: "Decades later, it (The Skin of Our Teeth) has continued to tickle our funny bones as it incites our intellect."

"Prelude to a Kiss," written by Craig Lucas and directed by Gloria Trombley, guest director and part-time faculty member, will open the spring 2014 season and will run Feb. 27-March 2 and March 4-5. Showings are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m. and Tuesday-Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., all in the Harry Hope Theatre.
      
Charles Isherwood, New York Times Theater critic, in his 2007 review of a recent revival stated, "So while it ends as fairy tales tend to, "Prelude to a Kiss" is steeped in the ache of loss and a sorrowful awareness that life's joys can be as fleeting as its hardships are unavoidable. It is a romantic comedy of an oddly brokenhearted kind."

Director Trombley says "This magical story of lustful, youthful, romantic love requires the audience to take an imaginary leap into a bewitching fantasy. The audience along with the characters takes an extraordinary journey of wild twists and turns that carries us along an emotional roller coaster that challenges and transforms our sensibility about the power of love."

The Harry Hope Theatre season concludes with the bi-annual "Directors' Showcase of International One-Acts," written by globally acclaimed playwrights and directed by the Theatre program's' most advanced directing students, which will run April 24-27 (Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday at 4 p.m.). Please stay tuned for more details regarding this production.

Tickets for Harry Hope Theatre shows are $5 for students and groups of 10 or more; $10 for Eastern faculty, staff and senior citizens; and $12 for the general public. For reservations, please call the Box Office at (860) 465-5123.

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