NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way live performances are presented worldwide, the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre has planned a diverse and adaptable season for 2020-21 that will bring live theatre to the stage and inside East Texas homes.
“These are certainly interesting times in which we live,” School of Theatre Director Cleo House Jr. said. “While we have made plans for virtual and in-person performances this year, life continues to be ever-changing in this new COVID world, so our plans remain fluid and adaptable. But we’re bringing you more opportunities than ever before to ‘visit the theatre.’”
Theatre faculty and students learned a lot in presenting the Festival of New American Plays virtually last spring and even more in the remote presentation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” this past summer.
“We’re using that new-found creative knowledge to bring you an exciting virtual performance of ‘No Exit’ by Jean-Paul Sartre as our season opener,” House said. “This existentialist play, written and first performed during World War II, explores the afterlife and the relationships that bind us to one another.” The performance runs Sept. 24 through 26 and is recommended for mature audiences.
After the first Mainstage virtual performance, live performances are planned in Kennedy Auditorium, but patrons have the option of purchasing live virtual access for watching all shows. Live performances are at 7:30 p.m. on scheduled nights.
The first live Mainstage show, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” by Bert V. Royal, is a play about a teenage boy, CB, who begins to question the existence of an afterlife after his dog dies. “Dog Sees God” is a touching and thought-provoking play about being different in a school filled with people who all pretend to be the same. Recommended for mature audiences, the play runs Oct. 6 through 10.
Theatre patrons will want to get onboard for “Rideshare/Overshare” by Ian McWethy and Carrie McCrossen. When Mike and Elaine each call a car to get to their blind date, they find themselves paired with the weirdest drivers on the road, from a "semi-licensed" therapist, to a thief engaged in a high-speed chase, to a rapper more concerned with sharing her original music than obeying the rules of the road. The play is PG-13 and runs Nov. 10 through 14.
In the spring, join the School of Theatre for “The Maids,” a play inspired by an actual murder case. Written by Jean Genet, “The Maids” shows the title characters, Solange and Claire, entertaining violent and sometimes sadomasochistic fantasies about murdering their employer. “It is difficult to tell exactly what is ritual, what is hallucination and what is reality,” House said. Recommended for mature audiences, “The Maids” runs Feb. 23 through 27.
A new offering this season is the Devised Theatre Project, in which the School of Theatre will create a show from start to finish that will showcase the talents of student performers, faculty, designers and technicians.
“The audience, moving through the space and surrounded by the performance, will experience an adventure that will be entertaining and might just change your idea of what theatre is and can do,” House said. The project runs April 1 through 3. The performance venue will be announced at a later date.
The final show of the season is based on the novel by Mark Haddon and adapted by Simon Stephens. “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” is the winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play. With an extraordinary brain, Christopher is exceptional at mathematics but ill-equipped for everyday life. Suspected of murdering his neighbor’s dog, Christopher is determined to solve the mystery of who killed Wellington, but his detective work turns his world upside down. With a rating of PG-13, the play runs April 20 through 24.
“No Exit” livestream access sales start at $7.50 with additional donations accepted.
General ticket prices for other play performances are: adult, $15; senior (62+), $10; non-SFA student, $10; SFA faculty/staff, $7.50; youth, $7.50; SFA student, $5; virtual access, $15. Live virtual access is available for all performances. Livestream access sales end at 1 p.m. daily during each show’s run, and links are emailed after 4:30 p.m. each day.
Purchase tickets/access at boxoffice.sfasu.edu or call (936) 468-6407. For questions about the plays, contact the School of Theatre at (936) 468-4003.