University of Rochester

EVENT: Checking In and Taking Control: The International Theatre Program Performs Two Comedies from George F. Walker's Suburban Motel

March 24, 2010

Six plays, one motel room: in Suburban Motel, a suite of six, individual, full- length plays all set in the same run-down motel room, playwright George F. Walker hilariously explores the lives of the underclass and the decisions they make in a world that seems out to destroy them. The University of Rochester's International Theatre Program continues its 20th Anniversary Season with performances of two of these groundbreaking works: Criminal Genius and Featuring Loretta, to be acted in repertory from April 15 to May 1.

Criminal Genius chronicles a series of escalating revenge crimes, plotted and discussed in a motel room where a crew of hapless criminals turns when they have no other options. These characters each adhere to their own logic as they contradict and conspire with each other, while trying to survive in a situation that is out of their control.

Featuring Loretta depicts the trials and tribulations of Loretta, an abandoned, soon-to-be-single mother, the industrial screws salesman who is in love with her, and a would-be filmmaker who wants to sell her body and launch a career in the adult movie business. The work examines how much of herself one woman will give in order to take back control of her destiny.

George F. Walker is a Canadian playwright whose works have been extensively produced, both in Canada and internationally. Suburban Motel was first produced by the Factory Theatre in Toronto, and published in 1996. Walker has won numerous honors for his work and was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2006. In 2009 he received the Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement. The International Theatre Program produced Walker's Escape from Happiness in 2000.

Nigel Maister, the artistic director of the International Theatre Program, will direct both plays. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Drama League Directing Fellowship, and is the staging director and a founding member of the acclaimed new-music ensemble, Alarm Will Sound, which was established by students at the Eastman School of Music.

Set and costume design are by Marsha Ginsberg, who modeled the settings after extensive research of local Rochester motels. Ginsberg has an international design career, specializing in new plays and opera. Lighting design is by Thomas Dunn, who has worked on numerous international productions, including Romeo and Juliet (Yale Cabaret), A Spring Awakening (Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center), and Nottthing Is Importanttt (Kasino/Vienna). Sound design is by William J. Pickens, whose recent work for the International Theatre Program includes this season's production of The Illusion at Geva Theatre Center.

Criminal Genius will run April 15 to May 1, and Featuring Loretta will run April 16 to May 1. Tickets are $7 (UR students), $10 (for UR faculty, staff, alumni, and for seniors 55+), and $13 (general public). A detailed performance schedule is located at Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 585-275-4088. They also are available at the box office one hour prior to each performance. All performances are held in Todd Theatre, located in the Todd Union building on the River Campus.