Ghosts and Spirits Theme Part of 2013-14 Theater Season, Studies
October 31, 2013 – A collection of haunting works opens the 2013-14 Theater and Performance Studies season with "Remember Me: A Season of Ghosts and Spirits," which begins Nov. 7 and is complemented by an academic component.
This season’s shows include a contemporary telling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet that runs Nov. 7-16; Caryl Churchill’s A Mouthful of Birds, Jan. 16-25; John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, A Parable, March 27-April 12; and Robert O’Hara’s Insurrection: Holding History, April 4-12.
“In a range of different ways, these plays all explore how the past haunts the present – sometimes insisting that we overcome distraction and not forget, as with the ghost of Hamlet's father, or focusing on obscured histories of slavery in Insurrection, or secrets that cannot be uncovered in Doubt,” says Derek Goldman, artistic director for Georgetown's Davis Performing Arts Center. “A Mouthful of Birds also summons up the ghosts and spirits of distant past.”
Hamlet in the Classroom
Goldman, a professor of theater and performance studies, is also teaching an immersive studio class on Hamlet.
“The character of Hamlet refers frequently to the ‘distraction’ running rampant in the kingdom,” he says. “One of the core things the play is about is a student’s sense of growing disconnection from those around him, about how so much of what others find beautiful and noble is for him rotten and out of joint.”
Students explore the classic work from multiple angles through analysis of many versions of the play in films, texts and other adaptations.
“It has been rewarding to explore students’ own sense of identity and language through their rapidly changing relationships to devices and technology," Goldman says, "and how these impact their experience of death and commemoration, power, friendship and social hierarchies, romance and sexuality, depression and more,”
Haunting Present, Past
Brendan Quinn (C’14), a senior theater and performance studies and psychology double major, will direct Churchill's A Mouthful of Birds for his senior thesis production.
Birds draws themes from the ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides, The Bacchae, which focuses on possession, madness and violence against women.
“This play really speaks to me,” Quinn says. “It deals with a variety of ghosts that are very much alive – things like mental illness, addiction, trauma, corrupted love... Your present can haunt you as forcibly as your past.”
Maya Roth, chair of performing arts and director of the theater and performance studies program, will direct Doubt during the season.
It’s an absorbing play that keeps audience perspectives shifting, she says.
“Religious figures are haunted at different junctures by the ghosts of sins and silence, possible coverups and broken vows,” Roth explains. “Have their actions hurt others more than helped?”
A series of discussions related to the play’s themes also will be offered in conjunction with the production.
Alumnus Isaiah Matthew Wooden (C’04) will direct Insurrection, a play about the slave rebellion led by Nat Turner in 1831.
Wooden, a currently a doctoral student in theater and performance studies at Stanford University, will return to Georgetown in the spring as a guest artist.
He previously served as a an adjunct faculty member and artistic advisor to the Black Theatre Ensemble at Georgetown from 2005 to 2008 and has directed productions on campus of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Lynn Nottage’s Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine and Lee Breuer and Bob Telson’s The Gospel at Colonus.
“O’Hara calls on spirits and ghosts to disturb conceptions of the infallibility of the archive, to unmake presumptions of what is history and, most significantly, to agitate what is,” Wooden says. “At its core, it is a play about the ghosting of history.”
Soyica Colbert (C’01), associate professor of theater and performance studies, will host a symposium in conjuction with the production called “Playing With the Past, (W)Righting the Future.” Insurrection playwright O’Hara will be among the featured guests.