By Glenda Rice Collins (Updated 2-16-20)
Norman, Okla. — Definitions of ‘renegade’ run the gamut from rebel, traitor, and betrayer to the more appropriate concepts for my recent University of Oklahoma arts district observations: revolutionary, radical, and runaway, to define artists, architects, and dramatists, along with musical theater themes and characters.
Current, and recent, O.U. theatrical productions include updated works by renegade American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim (b. 1930), and surrealist Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), while two exhibitions at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art drive home what art and gifted visionary artists often represent: RENEGADES!
Continuing exhibitions at FJJMA:
Renegades, Bruce Goff and the American School of Architecture, through April 5.
O. Gail Poole’s Sideshow, through May 10, 2020.
See additional details at http://www.ou.edu/fjjma.
Musical Theatre Downtown Series
Into the Woods (Feb. 7-9) initiates 2020 Downtown Series at Main Street Event Center
Last Thursday night’s news media preview of the OU Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre “Downtown Series,” an updated “in the round” production of Into the Woods–-music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim; book by James Lapine –took me in search of an off-campus site designated for the event, a former antique mall, now called Main Street Event Center, at 300 E. Main St.
The downtown site proved to be ideal for an intimate audience experience, as viewers can be seated close to, and almost part of the circuitous action, as directed by Shawn Churchman. This Into the Woods setting is an urban park, 2020.
Creative lighting by Michael Cole inspires an urban fantasy involving newly-challenged, perhaps now cross-dressed storybook characters, –such as Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf, the Witch, Jack (and the beanstalk), the Giant, Rapunzel and Cinderella, –in a 2020 world with cell phones and photo ops for selfies amidst unavoidable dissatisfaction, angst, fear, disappointment and the agony of real life in the eternal quest for resilience, love and happiness.
“But, Into the Woods still manages to not lose sight of what gets us out of bed in the morning: our dreams and wishes,” notes Churchman.
For more information about upcoming events, visit ou.edu/finearts.
OU Arts District
OU Musical Theatre — Up Next: Legally Blonde, The Musical, April 3-11, Brackett Theatre
NOW: Blood Wedding continues through February 16, Weitzenhoffer Theatre
Also portrayed as “theater in the round,” the OU University Theatre production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Spanish classic, Blood Wedding, again involves “renegades” as “rebel runaways” as a compromised couple, who plan to marry, grapples with ‘heart over head’ issues, societal expectations, and unresolved passion.
The new version, by Brendan Kennelly, is directed here by guest director Sara Guerrero, a Southern California native who is founding artistic director of the award-winning, Santa Ana-based group, Breath of Fire Latina Theater Ensemble.
“Living instinctually, clashing against the complexities of societal roles, that is what draws me to this work,” notes Guerrero. “Additionally, I’m attracted to the way in which death is celebrated. It sits so naturally and casually in the world of realism and surrealism…(and) connects to the magical realism of the Mexican, Mexican-American and Chicano roots I share.”
“Lorca was a poet (and ) playwright,” notes Seth Gordon, director of the Helmerich School of Drama. “The play… will (often) move into a fantastical world that is the exclusive invention of the author, into which we are privileged to be invited,” with the current Uldarico Sarmiento scenic designs influenced by artist Salvador Dali.
According to Gordon, “The production itself is a tribute to these special artists, and to the surrealist movement in which they worked.”
The composer of the moving music is recent OU grad, Jacob Frost.
Blood Wedding is an associate entrant in The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.
For additional details and tickets for OU University Theatre productions, visit theatre.ou.edu, or contact the OU Fine Arts Box Office at 405.325.4101.
Credits: FJJMA Photo by Glenda Rice Collins.
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