The cast of FAU’s production of The Pillars of Society, on stage from October 2-11.
Photo courtesy of FAU | FAU M.F.A. Acting Candidate Shannon Ouellette
Florida Atlantic University’s theater season is in full swing with one of the most talented groups of student-performers to come through the program yet, according to Desmond Gallant, the chair of FAU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. And with the establishment of a professional resident theatre, the department is looking to gain traction on local and national levels.
“The talent pool, the performers, is really second to none,” boasted Gallant. “I think you look at the work that we do, and it is comparable to any professional theatre in the area.”
The season opened in late September with Stop Kiss by Diana Son and was performed by the student honor society, Alpha Psi Omega. The department has since begun its main stage productions – which feature bachelor and masters students – with Henrik Ibsen’s The Pillars of Society through October 11.
John Pielmeier’s Agnes of God, William Wycherly’s The Country Wife, and Shakespeare’s King Lear are also in this year’s lineup, which will carry on through the spring semester.
“I think this season compared to other seasons is more heavily weighted in really large plays,” said Gallant. “I think the attempt to do something like The Country Wife – and to perform that alongside King Lear in the same season – is huge.”
The season will cover “thought-provoking” topics about the human experience, ranging from women’s issues to environmental issues. The department hopes that their repertoire garners the attention of audiences outside of the university community.
“Bringing audiences outside of the university to campus is incredibly important,” said Gallant. “We are a public face of the university; we are how we connect with the larger community.”
In another attempt to bring the theater exposure, the university established a professional resident theater company, Theatre Lab. This makes FAU the second school in the state to host a professional resident company; Florida State University has a permanent relationship with Asolo Repertory Theatre.
Heading this venture alongside Gallant is Louis Tyrrell, the founding artistic director of Florida Stage and former head of the theater program at Arts Garage in Delray Beach.
Cast shot of FAU University Theatre’s summer 2015 “Festival Rep” production, She Loves Me.
Photo courtesy of FAU
Theatre Lab will act as a bridge between the academic and professional stages for students. They will have the opportunity to not only perform in professional pieces, but network with others in the industry.
The company is also looking to contribute to the production of new works in American theater.
“Theatre Lab will establish FAU as a force in the national professional theater movement,” said Tyrrell.
In the end though, the main focus of the FAU theater program is to train the next generation of performers.
“When you come to see a show at FAU, you are seeing the blossoming talent of future performers,” said Gallant. “When you come as a Palm Beach County audience member to an FAU production, you are coming and supporting the careers of these future artists.”
- For more information on FAU’s Theatre and Dance department, visit its website.
Agnes of God | November 13-22 | Studio One Theatre
John Pielmeier’s spiritual drama tells the story of a novice nun accused of murdering her newborn child; a newborn she cannot remember giving birth to, and denies having conceived. Driven by three characters—the mother superior of the convent, a court-appointed psychiatrist, and Agnes—as Agnes of God unfolds, the mental and spiritual health of Agnes takes on larger meaning for the contrasts of facts and faith, science and religion, with all the characters emerging from a chrysalises of self-discovery at its end.
The Country Wife | February 19-28 | Studio One Theatre
William Wycherley’s lewd and hilarious The County Wife is a pointed social satire from the Restoration period, disseminating an anti-Puritanical ideology. Often banded for its sexual explicitness, even by today’s standards, the play—based on several Molière plays—interweaves the plotlines of a rake who pretends impotence in order to bed married women, and a naïve country wife whose arrival to London helps her discover new joys.
King Lear | April 15-24 | Studio One Theatre
The final play of FAU’s spring production is none other than the Bard’s King Lear. One of Shakespeare’s greatest works, the tragedy of Lear touches on themes of family and power, justice and society/class, loyalty and forgiveness as the conniving daughters’ plots for power and control of the throne lays waste the disposed king’s mind, as well as familial ties.