Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Theater / September 20, 2012

Fine arts preview: Theater

“At Night’s End,” a political play written by visiting Israeli scholar Motti Lerner, will make its world premier at Knox College, along with the production of five student-directed studio plays.

Premiering in Harbach Theatre, “At Night’s End” will showcase one family’s coming undone during the second Lebanon War of 2006. A bombardment of their home town lowers the family members’ emotional defenses to reveal inner conflict and trauma.

“The play is about the unknown price that we pay in wars — not only the soldiers, but also the families,” Lerner said. “We have in our culture this tendency to glorify wars. [A playwright] doesn’t say anything about the trauma; he doesn’t say anything about the suffering… about the nightmares… about the dead. He avoids it completely. And I think we, in our narrative of wars, tend to avoid it too. [At Night’s End] tries to do the opposite, to tell you that war is a most horrible human experience.”

Studio plays for the term range from a 10 minute monologue in which one boy details his escape from reality through an extensive Batman fantasy to a full-length retelling of Othello from the perspective of a not-so-innocent Desdemona confronting the idea of marriage as prostitution. Also in production is the darkly humoured “Death Comes To Us All, Mary Agnes,” which details family dysfunction, abandonment, incest, selfishness and vanity as a family reconvenes in a childhood mansion.

The performance wagon will make an appearance in “44 Plays for 44 Presidents” which will be performed by Knox students as part of the 2012 Plays for Presidents Festival in celebration of this election year. The performance wagon was built in the style of medieval pageant wagons in which one side of the wagon folds out to create a stage. “This Is The Rill Speaking” — a non-narrative series of short scenes depicting lifestyles of the Midwest — will also utilize the performance wagon.

Professor of Theatre Neil Blackadder speaks of how studio plays provide opportunities for students to get involved with theater either through performance or scenic and costume design.

“To me, this is exactly what we try to promote in [the] department: for students to be doing a variety of things [so] that they themselves create a variety of opportunities for the students who want to perform,” Blackadder said.

“It’s especially great to have a lot going on in the fall when new students arrive and they’re all so eager to get involved,” he said. “It’s nice that we have lots of opportunities for them.”

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