Luigi Pirandello's tragi-comic masterpiece, Six Characters in Search of an Author, gets a contemporary twist when it's brought to the stage by the University of Rochester's International Theatre Program next month.
The play opens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14, and then runs at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15, 16, 20, 21, 22, and 23, and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17, in Todd Theatre on the River Campus.
Six Characters in Search of an Author is Pirandello's most celebrated work; the play questions the ideas of identity and art. In the production, a rehearsal is interrupted by members of a family who explain they are characters from an unfinished dramatic work. Their only chance to be realized, they say, is to be written into a play to live out their story.
The Rochester production has been adapted by critically acclaimed visiting director Michael Barakiva. Barakiva has updated the play to a contemporary college setting to highlight the lack of distinction between reality and illusion.
Barakiva has recently directed the premiere of Mighty Myths by Wendy Wasserstein at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., as well as the New York productions of Brooke Berman's Defusion and A Free Man in Paris and Stephen Belber's Steak Knife and Through Fred. As an assistant director, he has worked on the National Tour of Seussical: The Musical, Monday at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the premiere of Wasserstein's Old Money at Lincoln Center. He is a two-time recipient of the David Merrick Prize in Drama and has received a Ford Foundation Grant for Summer Research.
Set design for the International Theatre Program's production of Six Characters in Search of an Author is by Kris Stone, whose work has been seen in the United States and in Ireland as well as in the film K-Pax. Sound design and original music is by Jason Price, an award-winning trumpeter who works and teaches at the Eastman Computer Music Center at the Eastman School of Music. Lighting design is by Jane Cox, who is resident lighting designer for the O'Neill Playwrights Conference and whose work has been seen locally at Geva Theatre. Costume design is by Robin Shane, who also has designed costumes for film and television.
In addition, dramaturgy is by Beatrice Basso, who has done translations for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Conservatory Theatre, and Berkeley Opera, and is a consultant for cultural events promoting Italian language and culture at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Tickets for Six Characters in Search of an Author are $5 for students, $7 for staff and seniors, and $8 for the general public. They can be reserved online at www.Rochester.edu/College/eng/theatre or by calling 275-4088. Tickets can also be purchased at the door starting one hour before the performance.