State of Troy Theater – Mrs. Packard and Morning View

This weekend brings USC a total of FOUR productions- I hope you have a clear schedule! We have three SDA productions;  Mrs. Packard, Morning View and The Most Happy Fella,, and an independent student production The Pink House One Acts. Here’s the run-down:

Mrs. Packard by Emily Mann is a very dramatic period piece revolving around a law from 1850s America that allowed a husband to commit his wife to an insane asylum without being declared so by a doctor. Based on a true story, we follow the life of Elizabeth Packard (played by a daring and tenacious Sylvie Baldwin) as her husband sends her to the Jacksonville Mental Hospital against her will. As she stuggles to convince those around her of her sanity, she must discover what “being sane,” truly means. The large cast is wonderfully convincing of the horrific conditions Mrs. Packard and her fellow inmates were subject to, including fun and disturbing scenes of manic patients.

Baldwin is truly the star of the show—there are very few moments when she leaves the stage, and reaches incredible emotional peaks.  Her performance would be impressive for any actor, but especially so considering she is merely a freshman.  Her stamina and commitment is enviable, especially during a scene when her head is dunked repeatedly in a bucket of water. The audience was on the edge of their seat in horror. Though some members of the cast were weak, the incredible and haunting story shines through, making this production both informative and artistic. The show runs April 11-14 in the McClintock Theater.

Every spring, the School of Dramatic Arts produces a New Works Festival of plays written by MFA Dramatic Writing students in their second year.  The first in this year’s series is Morning View, written by Jesse Mu-En Shao. The New Works Festival productions are always interesting, because the rehearsals are usually more geared toward the process, rather than the product, especially for the playwright.  The actors may even receive new scenes or dialogue the day of the show. It is a fantastic chance to experience other aspects of the School of Dramatic Arts, and see productions written by a student who could become the next Tennessee Williams.  The show runs April 12-14 in the Massman Theater.

Continuing the theme of student-written productions, the Pink House One-Acts is a night of just that; two short plays produced entirely by students. Contrary to many ISPs, this production is completely independent of any student organization—the name comes from the nickname for a house on Hoover that some of the participants live in.  The first one-act is written by Sarah Tither-Kaplan and directed by Caspar Brun, entitled “Eat the Rain.” Described as “a dark comedy questioning the lengths we will go to for those bound to us by blood and love,“ the talented cast is sure to put on en entertaining evening. The second play, “Henry and Joan,” was written and directed by Philip Labes, which always adds a fun element.  This play seems to appeal to the human spirit, and is said to be about “Sex, Talent and Money.” This show runs April 11-14 in the Village Gate Theater.

This is the last weekend for the school musical, The Most Happy Fella, which received rave reviews during its first five shows. Runs April 11-14 in the Bing Theater; for details, see last week’s post.

Stay tuned for more theater next week. Did you see any of these shows? Let us know what you thought in the comments!