Southwestern University actors are gearing up for the last play of the year. Called Escape From Happiness, its plot is just about how it sounds. “Escape From Happiness is a black realistic comedy written in the early 90′s about a family in Toronto who is suffering from encroaching urban decay,” said Jared Stein, director and visiting assistant professor of theater.
It gives some incredible opportunities to some of our female students, as the majority of the students in the theater major are female,” Stein said. “It also allows all the actors to dive into not only realism, but realism that takes everything to an extreme.”
While the original play was set in Toronto, the SU theater team has placed it within an ambiguous American city.
“We’re dealing with the effects of encroaching urban insanity,” said Stein. Its indeterminate location and broad themes make its audience wide and its themes especially hard-hitting. “It’s themes are more applicable now than they were when the play was even first written.”
Written by celebrated Canadian playwright George F. Walker, the production has been enormously popular for both professional and student theater since its 1993 inception and first performance at the Yale Repertory Theater. Stein has been here since the Fall of ’07, teaching acting, directing, and participating in general theater devising. Pulled together in five weeks at 3.5 hours of rehearsing a day, Professor Stein was impressed with the quality of the work students produced.
“It’s an extraordinarily difficult play. What appears on paper to be simple because of the realism [Walker] prescribes can go in many different directions,” he explained. “What we’ve been able to achieve, even with all of our time conflicts, is fantastic. I’m extremely happy with the amount of work and the intensity of the work that the actors and designers have brought to the process”
So what gives? Why should we bother going and seeing it?
“At the time that the play was written, Canada’s economy was in recession. But it was nothing compared to now [in America]. The play deals with how this family attempts to stay whole, happy, loving, supportive, and attempts to remain a structure within a constantly dilapidated societal structure.”
Many other plays have enjoyed enormous success on campus, and Stein hopes
Escape From Happiness won’t be any different.
“I would just hope that the entire Southwestern and Georgetown/Austin community comes and sees the play. It will be hilarious, brutal, dark, and insane,” said Stein. “I think they’ll walk away hoping that their families don’t even approach this level of dysfunction…and whatever level of dysfunction exists within their family units, they’ll be able to laugh at it, and leave here a little bit more at ease with their existences.”
The play runs Wednesday, April 21st through Sunday, April 25th. 7pm | Wednesday & Thursday 8pm | Friday & Saturday 3pm | Sunday.
All Southwestern faculty and staff receive two complimentary tickets per production. Students receive one complimentary ticket. Reservations must still be made in order to receive the complimentary student/faculty tickets. Contact the SU Box Office at (512) 863-1378 or drop by between 1pm & 5pm Monday-Friday to reserve your tickets in person.