Wednesday, February 20

Theatre UNO Provides an Arresting Performance of Orestes 2.0

Theatre UNO leads audiences this week through a thrilling channel-surf between ancient Greeks and American pop culture, according to David Hoover, chair of the University of New Orleans Department of Film and Theater. Playing now, Orestes 2.0 is a radical response to Euripides' post-war tragedy.

Performances of the play written by American playwright Charles Mee started Tuesday, Feb. 19 and will run through the weekend. Evening performances run at 7:30 p.m. each night through Saturday, Feb. 23 in the Robert E. Nims Theatre in the UNO Performing Arts Center. A final matinee runs at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.

The play Orestes 2.0 is set six days after the murder of Clytemnestra at the hands of her children, Orestes and Electra, according to a Theatre UNO synopsis."The Furies haunt Orestes. Electra is in damage control. Veterans returned from the Trojan War find that the nightmares, disorder, and ruin of battle have followed them home. Charles Mee's electrifying play slices together verbatim material from court transcripts, the poetry of Apollinaire, the TV Guide, autopsy reports and pop song lyrics to create a unique and blistering examination of state, fate, war and love."

Mee, an award-winning playwright, writer and historian who among other awards has received a lifetime achievement award in drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, is known for his "collage-like" plays which draw heavily on so-called "found texts," or excerpts extraploated from classic plays, pop literature and other well-known works. "There is no such thing as an original play," the playwright once wrote.

Timothy O'Neal, a UNO graduate student who is pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in Drama, directs Theatre UNO's production of Orestes 2.0 as part of his thesis work.

"Because I knew I was going to be directing my thesis this season, I presented Orestes 2.0 to David [Hoover] at the end of last year during his season selection amongst other scripts both by Charles Mee and other playwrights," O'Neal said Wednesday. "I've always had a soft spot for the theatrics and the ideas presented in it. After whittling down my pile and bringing in some other pieces and passing them amongst the faculty, they settled on Orestes which delighted me due to the challenges it presented. It also brought an interesting balance to the season as a whole, from Mamet and his sharp, stinging dialogue to Mee and his lyrical, poetic conversations, to Shakespeare and his wonderful blend of many styles."

Orestes 2.0 features an all-student cast. Mason Joiner, Kaitlyn Heckel, Blair Pourciau, Robert Facio, Aaron Davis, Kyle Woods, Jesse Stephens, William Watkins, Peter Smith, Kayln Hepting, Sarah Chatelain, Betsy Borrego, Ashton Akridge, Hunter Christopher, Justin Guidroz, Marino DeLeon, Franny Harold, John Neisler and Matthew Rigdon make up the modern Greek tragedy's cast.

Graduate student Anthonyka Ferdinand is in charge of set design; Tony French leads costume design; Diane Baas serves as lighting designer; and Kevin Griffith manages props. Kit Sternberger serves as stage manager; Justin Guidroz manages sound design and Michael Krikorian has pulled no punches as fight choreographer.

"Orestes really reflects pop culture in a way that ancient Greek theatre reflected the pop culture of the day. Like Euripides, who cleverly disguised the societal problems affecting Athens within the allegorical Argos, Charles Mee is a wonderful playwright who, in many of his plays, uses the ancient world to cast light on modern issues and modern touches. Only in a Mee play will you find a mention of a Trojan War soldier placed side by side a Charles Bukowski excerpt or a lesson on facial cleansing. His style is a very eclectic mix of all times really."

Early reviews and past productions of Theatre UNO promise a stellar performance. In fall, the elite Theatre UNO program received high honors fors its production or Race, a one-act play by David Mamet. The production immediately received nominations for a regional award by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Three actors were nominated for the Kennedy Center's Irene Ryan Acting Scholarships. Another actor received a Meritorious Achievement Award and stage and design managers received Meritorious Achievement Awards from the Kennedy Center.

Theatre UNO's production of Orestes 2.0 contains adult language, content, and cigarette smoke, according to the film and theater department. Ticket prices are $12 for general admission and $8 for students, faculty and seniors.

For tickets and information, call 280-SHOW (7469).
More information about the Theater Arts Program at UNO >>