A vibrant and diverse set of plays and musicals have been selected for the USC School of Dramatic Arts’ 2022-23 academic year that bring together the classic and contemporary, and encompasses the full range of theatrical experiences.
“Notions of ‘Claiming Home’ connect the practicums for the 2022-23 academic year,” said Dean Emily Roxworthy and Interim Artistic Director Rena Heinrich in the season announcement sent to students. “The titles present us with characters endeavoring to break free of systemic entrapment; cultural conditioning and displacement; codified roles and expectations of gender; binds of jealousy, rage and injustice. These plays explore themes of marginality and empowerment as well as the quiet victories that come through vulnerability and love.”
The season kicks off in October with The Wedlock of the Gods – a Nigerian adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, then ventures into unknown glades through the Sondheim musical Into the Woods, and witnesses the otherworldly powers of Stephen King’s Carrie. The power of love, loyalty and forgiveness will be investigated in William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, and the contemporary responses to these themes explored in the musical Company and Charles Mee’s comedic Wintertime. Issues of immigration, gender equality, social justice, and the tenuousness of home will be inspected in Susan Soon He Stanton’s we, the invisibles, Stef Smith’s Nora: A Doll’s House, the Tony-winning musical Urinetown and Sam Shepard’s Buried Child; and the neocolonial world is critiqued in Christopher Chen’s Passage. Promises of a new home help close the season in the comic romance of Hannah Cowley’s The Belle’s Stratagem.
“It is a season unlike any we’ve programmed before, and we look forward to having you be a part of it,” Roxworthy and Heinrich shared in their joint message.
The season of practicum opportunities is curated yearly by SDA’s Literary Committee. The committee comprised of SDA student representatives from the Theatre Students Association (TSA), Vice President Nicholas Kassoy and Diversity and Inclusion Chair Cristal Molina; and SDA faculty members representative of the School’s multidisciplinary areas (Profs. Bayo Akinfemi, Boni B. Alvarez, Paula Cizmar, Anita Dashiell-Sparks, Melinda C. Finberg, Elizabeth Harper, Rena Heinrich, Duncan Mahoney, and Kenneth Noel Mitchell), in conjunction and collaboration with MFA Acting and Dramatic Writing directors Prof. David Warshofsky and Prof. Oliver Mayer, respectively.
Tickets for the Fall 2022 plays and musicals will be available for purchase at the start of the fall semester.
About the Plays
The Wedlock of the Gods
by Zulu Sofola
Religious traditions are broken when a young woman defies the law of the land by reconnecting with her true love following the death of her much older betrothed husband. Full of drama, intensity and suspense, West Africa’s first female playwright, Dr. Zulu Sofola, sets William Shakespeare’s beloved classic Romeo and Juliet in Nigeria during the nineteenth century.
Nora: A Doll’s House
by Stef Smith
Society tells us that Nora is the perfect wife and mother. She is dutiful, beautiful and everything is always in its right place. But when a secret from her past comes back to haunt her, her life rapidly unravels. Over the course of three days, Nora must fight to protect herself and her family or risk losing everything. A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s brutal portrayal of womanhood caused outrage when it was first performed in 1879. This bold new adaptation reframes the drama in three different time periods. The fight for women’s suffrage, the Swinging ’60s and today’s world intertwine in this urgent, poetic play that asks how far have we really come in the past 100 years?
Carrie: The Musical
Music by Michael Gore, Lyrics by Dean Pitchford, Book by Lawrence D. Cohen, Based on the novel by Stephen King
Adapted from the imagination of American horror legend Stephen King, the haunting character of Carrie White is a teenage outcast who longs to fit in. At her high school, she’s bullied by the popular crowd, and virtually invisible to everyone else. At home, she’s dominated by her loving but cruelly controlling mother. What none of them know is that Carrie has just discovered she’s got a special power, and if pushed too far, she’s not afraid to use it.
Into The Woods
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by James Lapine
Another legendary adaptation hits the stage, this time bringing to life the Brothers Grimm’s not-so-innocent fairytales about desire, family and the choices we must live with. In this rare modern classic from James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, everyone’s favorite storybook characters come together for a timeless yet relevant piece exploring what happens after Happily Ever After. The Tony Award-winning book and score are both enchanting and touching.
by Charles Mee
Members of a gloriously eccentric family arrive at their summer house in the winter woods for a supposedly secret rendezvous – and soon bodies collide, doors slam, dishes fly and everyone’s perfect plans go fantastically awry. With a wink to René Magritte, a nod to William Shakespeare, and a toast to the Greeks, this hilariously poetic and hyper-kinetic voyage through the human heart never lets us forget that love, like life, is eternal, messy…and wondrous.
we, the invisibles
by Susan Soon He Stanton
In 2011, the director of the International Monetary Fund was accused of sexual assault by a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, but all charges were dismissed. Ripping a page from the global headlines, we, the invisibles shares the rarely heard stories of people like Diallo, a metonym for the otherwise invisible people from all over the globe working in New York City’s ultra-luxury hotels. By turns funny, poignant, and brutally honest, Susan Soon He Stanton’s contemporary play is an investigation of the complicated relationship between movers and shakers…and the people who change their sheets.
by Christopher Chen
A fantasia inspired by E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, Passage is set in the fictional Country X, which is a neocolonial client of Country Y. A local doctor and an expat teacher try to cultivate a new friendship, but the past and present collide in this complex geopolitical landscape. Christopher Chen’s deeply humane, exquisitely theatrical play is a kaleidoscopic examination of colonization and a meditation on how power imbalances affect personal and interpersonal dynamics.
by Sam Shepard
Yearning for the comfort of his idealized Midwestern roots, 22-year-old Vince returns to the family homestead with his girlfriend to find no one recognizes him. That is when the unraveling of dark family secrets begins. Sam Shepard’s powerful and shockingly comedic Pulitzer Prize-winning play probes deeply into the disintegration of the American Dream.
The Winter’s Tale
by William Shakespeare
A king consumed by unwarranted jealousy and driven to rage unleashes shocking violence upon his loved ones, shattering the royal family and plunging the monarch into deep remorse. But winter’s thaw ushers in a spring of regeneration and forgiveness in this celebrated romance, as a wise queen and a forgotten princess, together with their devoted companions, orchestrate one of William Shakespeare’s most touching reunions.
Music by Mark Hollman, Lyrics by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, Book by Greg Kotis
In this terrific musical with a terrible title, a prolonged drought has led the government of a Gotham-like city to partner with a private corporation to regulate water usage by requiring citizens to use only public bathrooms…for a steep fee! This bitingly fun Tony Award-winning musical satire astutely and hilariously intersects the climate crisis, corporate America’s mismanagement and social irresponsibility, and an economic system designed to exploit its marginalized citizens. A technological innovation will bring this production beyond the Bing Stage to a 3D metaverse across campus and around the world as part of USC’s 2022-23 Visions & Voices season.
The Belle’s Stratagem
by Hannah Cowley
In this light-hearted comedy of courtship, the lovely and mischievous Letitia is engaged to Doricourt, a childhood friend who seems indifferent towards her. Letitia accordingly sets in motion a scheme to make her fiancé either fall in love with her – or hate her, which is apparently just as good. Written in the mannered style of 1780, Hannah Cowley’s rom-com romp cries across the centuries demanding love, decency and equality.
MFA Dramatic Writing New Works Festival (Year 3)
Showcasing the emerging voices of the School’s graduating MFA Dramatic Writing students, the titles for these productions will be shared later this year.
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim
Book by George Furth
Phone rings, door chimes, in comes Company. Stephen Sondheim and George Furth’s groundbreaking musical comedy is largely regarded as a trailblazer of the modern-musical genre and is the winner of six Tony Awards – including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Lyrics and Best Book. The habitually single birthday celebrant is forced to question their adamant retention of singlehood during a darkly comic array of interactions with their diverse group of friends in this musical featuring a brilliantly brisk and energetic score containing many of Sondheim’s best-known songs.