CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – DATE, 2021 –The UVA Department of Drama is returning in person to theatres in 2021-22 with a carefully curated season of plays that highlight the unique array of challenges we face in our lives and around the planet we call home – and celebrating the increasingly vital human power of resilience.
The season itself, Artistic Director Marianne Kubik says, is an act of resilience, as the Drama Department reclaims its stages after more than a year away. “There is a richness in gathering together, in sharing a communal experience and being able to laugh and to cry” she said. “We are thrilled to share that experience with audiences this year with a season of shows that allows us all to explore where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going as a people and as a planet.”
The season will open on October 7 in the Ruth Caplin Theatre with Leah Nanako Winkler’s Diversity Awareness Picnic. Directed by Michael Jerome Johnson, this satire on the potential perils of diversity training in the workplace transports audiences to the fictitious Johnson Brown University during Diversity Awareness Week, where the employees of the tele-FUN-draising department are reluctant participants in the afternoon’s mandatory group activity. Candid conversations among the team lead to taking sides and taking potshots before taking a good look at what’s inside, and outside, of themselves.
Diversity Awareness Picnic will run October 7 and 8 at 8pm, October 14 through 16 at 8pm, and October 17 at 2PM in the Ruth Caplin Theatre. Tickets are $14.00 for adults; $12.00 for UVA faculty and staff, members of the UVA Alumni Association, and seniors; and $8.00 for students. Tickets are available now at the UVA Arts Box Office in the Drama Building on Culbreth Road, and online at https://tickets.artsboxoffice.virginia.edu/events.
“This absurd comedy invites us to look at serious issues in a different light,” Kubik said, “because the comedy and the absurdism pull these issues out of reality and logic so we can see it through a different, and often safer, lens. This play, in many ways, chose us – we immediately found ourselves laughing at the way it highlights the ignorance and awkwardness among its characters as they try to find ways to break through their biases, be honest with one another, and get along. It illustrates the honest struggle many are having with themselves.
By bringing a light feel to a weighted topic, Kubik said, the play helps open up what can be difficult conversations today. “It’s important for us to consider what complex issues we can start talking about, and then we need to start talking. Comedy can help change how we think and feel, opening the doors to conversation. It offers audiences plenty to think about in the context of a fun night of theatre. We wanted to invite the community back to our theatres, move conversations forward, and laugh together at the same time. We can all use more laughter these days.”
Next on the season schedule will be When the Rain Stops Falling, a play by Andrew Bovell, which Kubik will direct. The year is 2039. It’s been raining for days when a sudden omen forecasts the end of life on earth. Climate change becomes the companion to a family tree whose branches span four generations and two continents in this intricate story that considers how patterns of abandonment and betrayal shape a damaging legacy that may test the resilience of its inheritors.
When the Rain Stops Falling will run from November 18-20 at 8pm, December 3 and 4 at 8pm, and December 5 at 2pm at Culbreth Theatre.
“There are not many plays about climate change,” Kubik said. “And this one tackles the topic in a beautiful and almost sneaky way, because it is not only about climate change, it’s about the way the mistakes of fathers and mothers settle on their children, changing not only their children’s lives, but those of generations to come.
The play will feature large scale digital projections by digital media artist and UVA Associate Professor Mona Kasra that will offer metaphors to the issues we face as a world. “It will be an opportunity to sit in a room together and experience a story about people’s choices unfolding while we also see representations of what we are doing on a daily basis with regard to our environment,” Kubik said. “It’s a way of making clear to us that we all have a responsibility to where we live as much as with whom we live. It also considers, as we are responding now to the COVID crisis, whether human beings are resilient and will somehow find a way.”
How to Live on Earth, opening February 24 at the Ruth Caplin Theatre is a touching story by MJ Kaufman inspired by the Mars One project. Four people are shortlisted for the frontier adventure of a lifetime. The place: Mars. The catch? They can never come home. The finalists grapple with how this one-way journey will change their loved ones and themselves, exploring our unrelenting focus on the next frontier, and the question of giving one’s life for something greater than oneself.
How to Live on Earth, directed by Matt Radford Davies, will run from February 24-26 and March 1-3 at 8pm at the Ruth Caplin Theatre.
“I call this the driving play of the semester,” Kubik said. “We are really grappling with the people in our lives at this moment. These characters find themselves thinking about things they had not thought of before in their relationships, bringing up deep issues about our destiny and our life span, about whom we leave behind, and whom we really want to keep in our lives.”
16 Winters, or the Bear’s Tale, by Mary Elizabeth Hamilton and directed by Kate Eastwood Norris, wraps up the 2021-2022 season, opening April 21 in the Culbreth Theatre. Condemned by her husband for infidelity, the queen of Sicilia fakes her death and waits it out in a cabin in the woods in this story that imagines the 16-year interval in Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. The king feeds his guilt through rock music and the ghost of his dead son, his abandoned daughter runs away, and everyone is pursued by a bear. Full of mistaken identity and male privilege gone wrong, this comedy-drama explores the reimagining of social constructs and how we create a new path in the wake of repression.
16 Winters, or the Bear’s Tale will run from April 21-23 and 28-30 at 8pm in the Culbreth Theatre.
“This play was commissioned several years ago by the American Shakespeare Center as an invitation to write a play inspired by Shakespeare but in modern language,” Kubik said. “It’s our lightest play of the year, and a great way to end our season on a celebratory note. Each character in the play finds themself in an unexpected wilderness, moving forward through a changed world with no game plan – illustrating how ingrained a reliance on past methods is when facing the biggest challenges in our world.”
Parking for UVA Drama performances is available at the Culbreth Road Parking Garage, conveniently located alongside the theaters.
Visit here for more information on the 2021-22 UVA Drama season.