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'A life-altering experience': USC Theatre Department promises bold fall season

<p>Performers of the USC Theatre Department take part in a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” performed on the Russell House patio stage in March 2021.</p>
Performers of the USC Theatre Department take part in a production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged),” performed on the Russell House patio stage in March 2021.

USC's Department of Theatre and Dance expects to bring a standout performance lineup this fall, which will showcase an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Bess Wohl’s "Small Mouth Sounds."

These shows were selected with the help of the department's student-led Play Selection Committee. Each decision was made with student input and consideration, according to the Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Jim Hunter. 

"This is the most unique and diverse season we've had at the Department of Theatre and Dance since I've started here," Cat Thomas, a third-year MFA Directing Candidate, said. 

"A Midsummer Night's Dream"

The year will kick off with a production of one of William Shakespeare's classic comedies: "A Midsummer Night's Dream." This comedy consists of five interconnecting plots, connected by the marriage of characters Duke Theseus of Athens and Amazonian Queen Hippolyta. 

The USC Theatre Department rendition of the show will have no intermission; the play's running time, which is usually over two hours, will be cut down. Hunter described this 90-minute edition of the show as "energetic" and "hip-hoppy."

Guest artist and Emmy-nominated producer Devin Haqq will be the Associate Director for "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." The Theatre Department will be putting on its take on Victor Malana Maog’s adaptation of the show with the help of Haqq, according to Hunter.

“(Haqq) is really great. He is a really successful actor in New York and a wonderful person, and we are just glad he is gonna be down here helping with our students,” Hunter said. 

"A Midsummer's Night Dream" will be performed outside near the Horseshoe on the Shakespeare Festival Stage, the Department of Theatre and Dance's newest outdoor venue.

Hunter designed the outdoor stage that will be used this fall. The stage is currently being used at the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC. The making of this stage has been a three-year collaboration with the Folger Theatre, the National Building Museum and USC’s Theatre Department. It was made to be used at both the Folger Theatre and USC's Theatre.  

"A Midsummer Night’s Dream" will open on Oct. 2 and run Oct. 8 to 9, 2022. 

"Small Mouth Sounds"

The next production will be "Small Mouth Sounds." This will be directed byCat Thomas, a third-year MFA Directing candidate at USC. The performance will open at Longstreet Theatre, a challenge for Thomas since the production was not originally set up for an arena theatre like Longstreet. 

"Small Mouth Sounds" is a contemporary comedy that challenges how one acknowledges life’s hardest questions when words fail. The play contains almost no dialogue, and the character with the most dialogue is offstage the entire performance. Thomas explained that stripping the language allows actors to focus on the physicality of the performance. 

"Not every actor wants to do Shakespeare, so I love that we're offering an opportunity to do something that is more contemporary and different," Thomas said.

"Small Mouth Sounds" will be showing Nov. 11 to 18, 2022. 

Kevin Bush, the Marketing and Communications Director for the Department of Theatre and Dance, encourages students to make this the year they see a production if they have not seen one yet. 

“I promise you you will have a life-altering experience,” Bush said, adding that he believes students will learn and experience things they would not have before. 

Correction (Aug. 30 at 10:30 a.m.): A previous version of this story incorrectly named Shakespeare’s play in the first paragraph. The correct name of the play is "A Midsummer Night's Dream.”


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