TIME, DATE, AND PLACE: 8 p.m. on Oct. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, with a matinee at 3 p.m. on Sundays Oct. 21 and 28; in Todd Theatre on the River Campus.
ADMISSION: Tickets are free; donations encouraged.
Note: Parking is available on University lots after 7 p.m. weeknights and all weekend.
What happens when an award-winning author decides to write a play every single day for a year? Answer: 365 plays and an international festival. The University of Rochester's International Theatre Program will participate in the yearlong festival Oct. 15-28, presenting its fair share of Suzan-Lori Parks' 365 Days/365 Plays. Directed by Nigel Maister, undergraduate students will present 14 of the plays every day for two weeks in Todd Theatre Oct. 15-20 and 22-27 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 21 and 28 at 3 p.m. Each performance will run approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.
On Nov. 13, 2002, Pulitzer-prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks got an idea to write a play a day for a year. She began that very day, finishing one year later. The resulting play cycle, called 365 Days/365 Plays, is a daily meditation on an artistic life. Some plays are very short, less than a page. Others last forever.
The University of Rochester International Theatre Program joins with the 365 Festival along with a widely diverse cross-section of over 60 schools around the country. On October 20, Geva Theatre Center will also participate in the festival, presenting at Nextstage a different interpretation of some of the same plays premiering at the University.
The 365 Festival is, in essence, a grassroots event, with more than 700 theaters producing the plays throughout the United States, internationally, and in universities (the "365U" contingent) in a cultural relay race that celebrates the community of theater artists around the world. Produced by Bonnie Metzgar and Suzan-Lori Parks, the 365 Festival performances will take place from Nov. 13, 2006 through Nov. 12, 2007. For information on the 365 National Festival, visit www.365days365plays.com.
"Parks' text allows a lot of room for interpretation, and the festival has encouraged risk-taking and creativity," said Maister. "The text and stage directions are very free and exciting for actors and directors, allowing us to enter the mind and the world of Parks and to devise ways of connecting the dots from show to show. It's a fun, entertaining, light-hearted and charming theatrical evening that pushes the boundaries of traditional student theater."
Parks said, "A few years ago I said to myself, 'I'm going to write a play a day for a whole year. I'll call it 365 Days/365 Plays!' So, for an entire year, every morning I would wake up and write a play. For me, the process was great fun; it was also like a puja, or an extended daily prayer. After I'd finished the 365th play, Bonnie Metzgar told me of her production idea: a simultaneous world premiere shared by many theatres in several different cities."
Parks, who is also one of the co-producers, received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog. She has won two Obie awards, and In the Blood was a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist. A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award, Parks' work is the subject of the PBS Film "The Topdog/Underdog Diaries." She is an alumna of New Dramatists and has received a Guggenheim Foundation Grant, among many others. Her work for film and television includes "Girl 6" directed by Spike Lee and the adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, for Oprah Winfrey Presents. Her first novel, Getting Mother's Body, is published by Random House.
Co-Producer Bonnie Metzgar is a playwright, director, and producer who has collaborated with Suzan-Lori Parks since 1989. She is currently associate artistic director of the Curious Theatre Company in Denver, and teaches in the Brown Graduate Playwriting Program.
Rebecca Rugg, 365U Producer, is the associate chair of playwriting at the Yale School of Drama. Previously, she served as dramaturg and director of new projects at the Public Theater under George C. Wolfe.
Nigel Maister, director, has been the artistic director of the UR International Theatre Program since 2002 (before that he was the program's associate director). Born in South Africa, his work spans three continents and numerous genres, including theatre, fiction, and puppetry. He is a founding member and resident staging director of the award-winning new music group Alarm Will Sound and a New York Theatre Workshop, "Usual Suspect."
Costume and prop designer Holly Laws is a Providence, Rhode Island-based artist whose work runs the gamut from sculpture to theater design. Lighting design is by Thomas Dunn, who is also a video artist, and whose work has appeared at Yale Repertory and Bard College, among other venues. Sound design is by Jamie McElhinny, who has designed for HERE and P.S. 122 in New York, Trinity Rep, and others.
Admission is free; donations are encouraged. Tickets can be reserved online at www.rochester.edu/theatre or by calling the box office at (585) 275-4088. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the door one hour prior to each performance. Todd Theatre is located in Todd Union on the University of Rochester's River Campus.
SUZAN-LORI PARKS (PLAYWRIGHT, CO-PRODUCER) is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist whose plays include Topdog/Underdog (Public Theater), F-cking A (Public Theater), Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 Obie Award for Best New American Play), The American Play (Public Theater), Venus (Public Theater, 1996 Obie Award), The Death Of The Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, and In The Blood (Public Theater, 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist), among others. Her work is the subject of the PBS Film "The Topdog/Underdog Diaries." She is an alumna of New Dramatists, and has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She was also the recipient of a Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Award, a CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts (Drama) for 1996 and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. Her work for film and television includes "Girl 6" (directed by Spike Lee) and the adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God, for Oprah Winfrey Presents, which premiered in 2005 on ABC. Her first novel, Getting Mother's Body, is published by Random House. She is currently writing the book for the Ray Charles musical (for the film producers of "Ray"). A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award, Parks received the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog.