It’s not just a stage. From the ancient Greek drama to the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and from Broadway to Cirque du Soleil: The performing arts have sustained cultural relevance and popular appeal throughout time. As a reflection of the world around it, the stage isn’t going anywhere.
That’s what makes it a perfect place to reflect the sustainability literacy initiative at the College of Charleston. The Department of Theatre and Dance’s 2017–18 production season, fittingly named SUSTAIN THIS!, supports the College’s sustainability literacy initiative, which works to equip students with the knowledge and skills to solve future challenges to social justice, economic disparity and environmental issues. Bringing together musical theater, drama and dance to explore this timely theme, the department shows its commitment to a more sustainable future, both on stage and off.
“The performing arts have always been able to express the cultural, social, economic and environmental issues of the times in a uniquely enlightening and provocative way,” says Janine McCabe, chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at the College. “This season, we’ve chosen productions that make us confront the issues we’re facing rather than escape them. We’re really excited about the season ahead – and to show that sometimes ‘happily ever after’ takes a little work.”
With three productions last semester – including the play Enron and the dance concert REALIGN – the SUSTAIN THIS! season resumes today, Jan. 24, 2018, with the world premiere of Chore Monkeys by Patrick Gabridge, who explains that this play “takes a look at subtle racism facing young men trying to work and the challenges of maintaining interracial friendships in a world of white privilege and racial discrimination.” Directed by associate professor of theatre Joy Vandervort-Cobb, the play is recommended for mature audiences only and aims to change our perspectives on the people we encounter outside the theater.
This semester will also feature the enduring play, An Enemy of the People, which although written by Henrik Ibsen 125 years ago, promises to take on social and economic issues that seem as current as the morning news in the hands of its director, associate professor of theatre Susan Kattwinkel.
Also on stage this spring is the fourth annual Chapel Moves dance concert as well as We Without Walls, a staged reading event with the renowned Cuban-American playwright, María Irene Fornés, whose one-act plays are richly absurdist, feminist and political. This event is part of the College’s semester-long program Cuba en el Horizonte, which examines the history, politics, economy, culture and art of that island nation.
The season will culminate in April with a collaboration between the Department of Theatre and Dance and the Department of Music on a production of the Tony Award–winning Into the Woods by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim. With associate professor of theatre Todd McNerney as director and associate professor of music David Templeton as musical director, the adult fairy tale takes us on the journey of a baker and his wife and their quest to begin a family. The musical explores the loss of innocence, the true cost of getting what you wish and what happens after “happily ever after.”
Opening nights of each production include a talkback and reception with the cast and crew that give insights into the behind-the-scenes creativity and process. Get tickets and more information about this semester’s SUSTAIN THIS! productions – including dates, times and locations here.