University of Rochester

EVENT: Experimental Dance-Theater Work Comes to University

October 5, 2004

The rarely performed contemporary play A Mouthful of Birds, an innovative collaboration between multiple award-winning British playwright Caryl Churchill and United Kingdom-based South African playwright David Lan, opens on Thursday, Oct. 14, at the University of Rochester’s Todd Theater on the River Campus.

This ground-breaking dance-theater piece, which challenges theatrical form and convention, is presented by the University’s International Theatre Program and runs at 8 p.m. Oct. 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, and 23, with a 3 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Oct. 17.

A Mouthful of Birds is a loose adaptation of the Greek myth of Dionysus as expressed in Euripides’s The Bacchae. It explores modern forms of possession—addiction, anxiety, and passion—within everyday life, concentrating on the relationship between pleasure, power, and violence. Mouthful is a vibrant exploration of obsession, possession, the spirit world, intrigue, and gender bending, expressed through the vitality of physical theater. Using dance, multimedia, and extensive music in addition to conventional theatrical narrative techniques, A Mouthful of Birds celebrates the challenging theatrical aesthetic for which the International Theatre Program is known.

The International Theatre Program production is directed by up-and-coming New York City director and playwright Ian Belton, whose recent production for Rochester native Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s LAByrinth Theatre Company of Guinea Pig Solo at the Joseph Papp/NYSF Public Theatre garnered strong reviews. Belton is the recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Directing Fellowship from the Juilliard School, the Richard E. Sherwood Award from the Mark Taper Forum, and the Sir John Gielgud Fellowship from the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation.

The A Mouthful of Birds design team includes lighting designer Paul Whitaker, also of Guinea Pig Solo; set and costume designer Tracey Otwell, a recent California Institute of the Arts graduate; New Music composer Brendan Connelly, who will create an original score and the sound design; and sculptor Casper Hargreaves, whose recent credits include Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors and The Lion King.

Tickets for A Mouthful of Birds are $10 for the general public, $6 for University of Rochester students, and $8 for senior citizens and University of Rochester faculty and staff. They can be reserved online at or by calling the box office at (585) 275-4088. Tickets can also be purchased at the door, one hour before the performance. Todd Theatre is located in Todd Union on the River Campus.

Note to Editors: A picture from the production of A Mouthful of Birds can be emailed to you by contacting Helene Snihur at or (585) 275-7800.