The lights are down and the curtain is up on the Binghamton University theatre department’s 2015-2016 mainstage season.
The four shows — “God of Carnage,” “Spring Awakening,” “Dancing at Lughnasa” and “Hamlet” — were announced last Monday after deliberation by the production selection committee. The selection process begins with the committee, which includes the department chair, the shows’ directors, designers and the technical director, as well as students suggesting plays for the upcoming season.
According to professor Anne Brady, once the committee has weighed all of the options, they finalize the season. The decision usually includes a musical, a contemporary play, a classic play with heightened language and a comedy or drama to round out the selection.
“The Production Selection Committee chooses the plays to represent a varied season that we think will be good for our students, the university and the community,” Brady wrote in an email.
First to come to the stage will be “God of Carnage,” a dark comedy directed by theatre professor Tom Kremer. In the play, four parents come together to discuss an argument between their children. Despite their initial goal of having a peaceful discussion, the conversation eventually devolves into chaos. The play will run from October 15 to October 25 in Studio A of the Fine Arts Building.
Assistant professor Tommy Iafrate, who is new to BU, will direct this year’s musical selection, “Spring Awakening.” The Tony Award-winning musical, which will run from November 13 to November 22, takes place in late 19th-century Germany, and follows the lives of teenagers who find themselves revolting against their parents on a path to moral and sexual discovery.
Iafrate wrote in an email that the selection committee wanted to choose a musical that would excite the student body.
“Several voices in the department agreed that Spring Awakening would generate lots of enthusiasm,” Iafrate wrote. “Its themes of sexual exploration in a world of excessive moral strictures are as relevant today as they were in 1891 when the play that inspired this musical was first written.”
With a score filled with rock-influenced songs, “Spring Awakening” will give audiences a fresh take on musical theatre.
“I am thinking of Spring Awakening not as a musical in the traditional sense,” wrote Iafrate, “but as a play that keeps getting interrupted by a rock concert.”
“Dancing at Lughnasa,” which will be directed by professor Elizabeth Mozer, follows the lives of the five Mundy sisters as narrated by one sister’s son, Michael. Set in 1936 rural Ireland, the play follows the sisters as they discuss the world around them from the safety of their own cottage, revealing the importance of their close family bond. The play will run from March 4 to March 14 in Watters Theater.
“Hamlet,” directed by Brady, will help to commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death this spring. According to Brady, the theatre department intends to collaborate with the special collections of Glenn G. Bartle Library and other departments on campus to honor Shakespeare’s work during the spring semester.
Shakespeare’s tale follows the play’s namesake on a mission to avenge his father’s death, which drives him to question his sanity. The production will take the Watters Theater from April 29 to May 8.
Auditions for the fall shows will be held on Monday, August 31 and Tuesday, September 1. Brady said that she looks forward to seeing new people at the auditions.
“We often cast freshmen and newcomers, especially in the musical and in the plays with larger casts,” she wrote.
For Iafrate, the key to auditioning is to fully engage with the material.
“For those planning to audition, the best advice I can give is to sing something you enjoy and fully commit to the mood of the music and lyrics,” he wrote.
Tickets for individual performances and season ticket bundles are available now through the Anderson Center’s website.