SPRINGFIELD — The 2008-2009 season of the Theatre Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield will feature works by British playwrights, both modern and classic.
The fall production is Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill. Described by the New York Times as "intelligent, inventive, and funny," the play parodies the British Empire of the Victorian era and its rigid (and oppressive) attitudes, especially toward sex. As the story opens in 1880 in British Colonial Africa, the audience is introduced to Clive, a government official; his wife, Betty (played by a man); their daughter, Victoria, played by a rag doll; Clive's friend Harry, an explorer; Mrs. Saunders, habitually dressed in a riding habit; Clive's son, Edward, who still plays with dolls (and is played by a woman); and Joshua, a native servant who knows what is really going on – a non-stop round robin of sexual liaisons.
The second act shifts to London in 1980 except that for the characters only 25 years have passed and "all those repressed sexual longings have evaporated along with the Empire." (Information from the Samuel French publishing catalog.)
UIS Assistant Professor of Theatre Missy Thibodeaux-Thompson will direct. Production dates are November 7-9 and 13-15.
The spring production is As You Like It, one of William Shakespeare's finest comedies. The setting is France, where Duke Senior – usurped and exiled by his brother, Duke Frederick – has gone into hiding in the Forest of Arden with his followers. Duke Senior's daughter, Rosalind, is permitted to stay at court because she and Frederick's daughter Celia are close. However, Rosalind soon falls in love with Orlando, and when the young man is forced to leave court to escape persecution by his older brother, Rosalind and Celia, disguised as men, also flee to the Forest of Arden. After much confusion, mistaken identity, and love-struck pining, Duke Frederick repents, all the couples are properly reunited, and everything works out in the end.
UIS Director of Theatre Eric Thibodeaux-Thompson will direct. Production dates are April 17-19 and 23-25.
Open auditions for Cloud 9 will be held in August or September. Open auditions for As You Like It will be held in January.