For a number of University of Windsor students, faculty and dedicated supporters, the cool autumn wind carries promise of an additional season: theatre.
This week, excited supporters and a hard-working cast and crew will join together as a community for the first performance of the University Players’ 54th season. Tina Pugliese offered a look behind the curtain of both the theatre and her role as the new director of the School of Dramatic Art.
“Watching the students makes me more appreciative of the collaborative creative process and hard work involved in delivering a memorable theatre experience,” said Pugliese, who became director in July after teaching at the university since 1997.
“Jake’s Women” by Neil Simon:
(Sept. 20-23, 26-30).
A comedy about a writer who lives more inside his fiction than he does in reality. Watch Jake as he “takes the next step to put his past to rest and embrace the future.”
“The Hollow” by Agatha Christie:
(Oct. 25-28, 31 and Nov. 4).
Murder takes the stage as Sir Henry Angkatell’s family joins for a weekend of fun turned fright. Come and see whose hands are red in this mysterious thriller.
“Welfarewell” by Cat Delaney:
(Nov. 22-25, 28 and Dec. 2).
A satire involving a retired actress named Esmeralda who has a life changing experience when she spends a night in jail and decides to keep getting arrested for the luxuries of the slammer.
“Tartuffe” by Moliere:
(Feb. 7-10, 13-17).
A holy man named Tartuffe tricks a man named Orgon into giving him everything he owns without Orgon even realizing it. Orgon’s family sees Tartuffe for what he really is and goes to crazy lengths to show him what’s really going on.
“9 Girls” by Wilfrid H. Pettitt:
(March 7-10, 13-17).
Ten sorority sisters meet at a mountain clubhouse, only one ends up getting murdered. The comedic banter keeps the seriousness of the situation at bay, so come laugh and you figure out alongside Alice who the real killer is.
“The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde:
(April 4-7, 10-14).
Join friends Algernon and Jack as they each pursue love under the name of ‘Ernest,’ causing riot which only Lady Bracknell can fix.
Each fall, the University Players committee, comprised of faculty play directors, designers, staff, and students, choose the plays for the upcoming season that reflect major subscription theatres, and includes a mystery/thriller, a comedy, a period play and a Canadian piece.
The order in which plays are performed is based on the best time of year in which the committee feels the play will peak the most interest and sales of audience members. So expect to be spooked this October by a performance of The Hollow by Agatha Christie.
“A comedy to start the season and to end it is always fun,” said Pugliese. Laughter will echo in Essex Hall theatre as Jake’s Women by Neil Simon and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde start and end the season, respectively.
“The play selections must also offer our students a range of opportunities to practice their skills and to be challenged by a variety of roles and types of plays,” Pugliese said, adding that “arranging the season so that it is made possible for students with multiple roles.”
Actors in the performances are cast with open auditions for students in SoDA with fourth-year students guaranteed two roles for academic credit. Directors include faculty members as well as guest directors.
“The University Players is an educational theatre. The students you see perform on the stage are passionate about what they are learning and are very talented,” Pugliese explained. “Students continue their classes, so they put in some very long days.”
In addition to acting, students work as stage managers, assistant directors, and help with lighting, hair, costume and sound for the plays.
Students, onstage or off, are learning how to keep Canadian theatre alive. An night at the theatre is as Pugliese described, a place where you can be engaged, inspired, challenged to reflect on life and be entertained at the same time.
“Perhaps some students don’t really understand what we do in dramatic art or do not know about University Players, so here is an invitation to check out this year’s exciting season. You will not be disappointed.”