By DAVID GALLAGHER
This week marks the beginning of the 2009-2010 season for Studio 115, the student-run performance venue for the UMW theatre department. The studio will be performing “The Violet Hour,” a play by Richard Greenberg, this Thursday, Sept. 24 through Sunday, Sept. 27. This is the first performance in the newly renovated studio, which will be showing two more plays later this semester.
“The Violet Hour” tells the story of a young publisher, John Pace Seavering, who, when given the opportunity to publish one manuscript, must choose between his best friend’s sprawling multi-volume novel and his mistress’ memoir. Further complications arise when a machine that foretells Seavering’s future and the future of his friends is mysteriously delivered to his office. Questions of friendship and fate are addressed in this hysterical, yet heartfelt, tragicomedy.
The playwright, Richard Greenberg, won a Tony Award for his 2002 play “Take Me Out” and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2003 for “Three Days of Rain.”
“The Violet Hour” is directed by Paul Morris, a senior English and theatre major at Mary Washington. Morris, who has acted in several plays at UMW, gained directing experience with “24” and “Fall,” both of which were performed at Studio 115. He was offered direction of the play by the studio committee. Though unfamiliar with the play, Morris accepted the job after reading the script.
Morris sees the play as about “the loss of caring about things…In a world of plastic, people get forgotten.”
Cassandra Lewis, one of “The Violet Hour’s” five cast members, described the theme of the play as “the loss of personality when things get recorded.”
Auditions took place the second week of classes, and the dedicated cast and crew have been rehearsing ever since.
Studio 115 was renovated over the summer to provide a more up-to-date venue for student productions. The black box theatre has been refurbished with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, a new seating area and a fresh paint job. The renovations were completed within the last week, giving the cast and crew very little time to rehearse in the actual space.
Studio 115 will host two more shows this semester: “Reckless,” a play by Craig Lucas, will open in late October and “Reefer Madness,” a musical by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, will be performed in November.
The theatre department is looking forward to next spring, when the Klein Theatre, which is being completely renovated this semester, will reopen. The 300-seat theatre is the department’s largest production space and has been in need of technical renovation for some years.
The Klein Theatre is also being fitted with brand new sound and lighting systems as well as a significant cosmetic renovation. William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” will be the first show in the new theatre, which opens next April.
Tickets to “The Violet Hour” are free and distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis one hour before performances begin at the door of Studio 115, in the basement of duPont Hall.
Show times can be found here.