SETTING
A rooming house, No. 722 Toulouse Street
In the French Quarter of New Orleans
Winter 1938-Spring 1939

The University Theatre presents

Vieux Carre

by Tennessee Williams


Director
Sharon Andrews

Scenic & Lighting Designer
Jonathan Christman

Costume Designer
Lisa Weller

Sound Designer
Alison Delaney*

Vocal Coach
Leah Roy

Assistant Director
Chrissy Davis

Stage Manager
Joey Picard
 

February 19th-23rd, 2003

 
  CAST

THE WRITER
Jonathan Horvath*

MRS. WIRE
Meg McKee*

NURSIE
Jamila Porter

NIGHTINGALE
Andy Rigsby*

JANE
Erin Lichtenstein*

TYE
Nemanja Savic

MISS CARRIE
Kate Roberts*

MARY MAUDE
Linda Donnell

SKY
Joey Mertes*

PHOTOGRAPHER
Scotty Candler*

PATROLMAN
George Graves*

PICK UP
Ted Henson

VOICE OF THE JUDGE
Harold Tedford


* Member of The Anthony Aston Players

 









PRODUCTION STAFF

Technical Director
Trevor Anderson

Costume Shop Supervisor
Lisa Weller

Audience Services Coordinator

Leslie Collins

Assistant Stage Managers
Alyssa Biber*, Matt Gutschick*

Master Electrician
Madeline Smith*

Master Carpenter
J.D. Stallings

Prop Master
Cambra Overend*

Scene Shop Assistants
Melissa Gervasio, Melissa Jones*, Erika Libero, Pip Rinehart*,
Katy Slavin, Jonathan Watkins*

Scenic Crew
Jason Freuchtel, Jim Garret,
Robert Richter, Phillip Rogers,Annie Walton, Charlotte White

Paint Crew
Brett Bechtel, Jennifer Parker,
Erin Talabay, Hunter Thompson, Blair Watson

Wardrobe
Lindsey Hardegree, Katy Slavin,
Michelle Stupinsky

Costume Studio Assistants
Rachel Baxley, Katie Delsandro, Meredith Ducz*, Sarah Guthrie,
Andrea Leutz, Loren Sasser,Matt Tomko

Electrics Crew
Dan Chapman, Doug Coe,
Damon McWhite, Nicholas Price,
Lucian Smith
Grip Zach Tysinger*

Light Board Operator
Sarah Wynne*

Sound Board Operator
Meredith Ducz*

Poster Design
Frank Ludwig

Photography
Bill Ray III, Leslie Collins,
Frank Ludwig

Publicity
Daniel Callahan, Westin Galloway, Amy Hambrick, Willie Idlette,
Laura Kacewicz, Joe Leccesse,
Michael Plaza, Lyndsay Zotian

Box Office & Front of House Staff
Melanie Clear, Alannah DiBona, Sarah Foley, Emily Johnson,
Cara Lee,Everett Long*,
Jonathan Loudin, Jacob Morris, Esther Pesciotta

* Member of The Anthony Aston Players


SPECIAL THANKS
Aaron Bokros
Cindy Gendrich
Jay Lawson
Lolita Roy
Harold Tedford
Little Theatre of Winston-Salem

DIRECTOR’S NOTE

There are many considerations when choosing a play to bring to life. We chose this play because Tennessee Williams is one of the most revered playwrights in the western cannon and it is fun to offer his fans one of the plays from the later days of his career that few have seen.
There is a fair amount of autobiography in Vieux Carré. Just like Williams did when he was a young man in the late 1930's, the Writer (he is given no other name) in the play moved into the bohemian world of the French Quarter in New Orleans searching for his muse. There he encountered a world that Williams encapsulates in an old rooming house in the section of the city called the Vieux Carré. This house is home to a fascinating array of characters desperately seeking relationships to ease the fear in their wounded and lonely lives. Those familiar with Williams' plays, poems and short stories will recognize people in this play reincarnated from many of his more famous works. It is interesting that he did not return in his memory to these originals until the mid 1970's, long after he had created the body of work with which we are most familiar. Perhaps he felt that he and the society he lived in had changed enough to accept a dramatization of these short but powerful few months in his life. Looking back on this time he said, "I found the kind of freedom I had always needed. And the shock of it against the Puritanism of my nature has given me a theme, which I have never ceased exploiting".1 This theme looms large in Vieux Carré.
Perhaps the opportunity to explore connections between a brilliant writer's life and how his personal experiences translate into a work of art is reason enough to present Veiux Carre. While it is a good reason, it was definitely not the only one. We also considered the fact that a primary mission of our theatre department is to provide opportunities for young actors to stretch their skills. Vieux Carré is filled with rich and complex characters and the lyrical realistic acting the play demands has been a challenge to us all. Last but certainly not least, Vieux Carré was chosen for what we considered its relevance and pertinence to our community; for the things it would give us to talk about. It calls up issues of classism, racism, sexism and homophobia.
I am a big fan of Tennessee Williams. I was not unaware of controversial elements in the play but I believe we can't arbitrarily throw out art because of it's depiction of the past and that we clean up the truth about the past at our own peril. With all these reasons and the bonus of a first rate cast, I happily set out on the journey of bringing Vieux Carré to our stage. One day over half way through rehearsals one of the actors said something that brought me up short. He questioned whether this play would open up enlightening dialogue in our community or rather, alas, through a depiction of stereotypes, further solidify existing prejudices. I asked him to add his thoughts to these notes.

--Sharon Andrews


1 Robert Rice, "A Man Named Tennessee," New York Post, 30 April 1958,pM2.

ACTOR'S NOTE

As an actor, the world of Vieux Carré captured my interest immediately. The play gives us a direct line into reality as experienced by an infinitely diverse cast of characters at once so separate in their struggles, and at the same time so similar.
In the play, Williams offers us a rare opportunity to understand the deepest intersections of human experience. Within the confined spaces of this one tragic rooming house in the French Quarter of New Orleans, we (the actors) have the challenging task of illustrating the gamut of social prejudices: classism, racism, sexism, homophobia…all of these brought together through the vibrant, visual medium of the theatre. The audience is given an opportunity to understand and internalize, for the briefest of moments, the injustices experienced by vivid characters withering under the truth of their circumstances.
Through this exchange, we find a human condition that is more basic to all of us: loneliness and the passionate need to connect. After all, most theatre has the "human condition" as its source and theme and it often has the power to illuminate our narrow and dangerous perspectives. If we are lucky, we (the viewers) are edged toward more compassionate and enlightened views.
In the middle of the rehearsal process I found myself fearful that, rather than enlighten its viewers, this play would in some way reinforce prejudice. This made my role so difficult, at times, to invest in. Nightingale (simply because I know him most intimately, as the actor who plays him) is constructed out of some of our most vicious stereotypes about gay men: he is promiscuous, he is diseased and he is, indeed, a queen. I found myself asking: will Nightingale reinforce stereotypes that oppress gay men? I can only hope, as I believe Tennessee Williams would, that it is Nightingale's humanity that appeals to audiences - not the stereotypes that are manifested in his character. Here is a man cast out from society because of his disease, a man who never found acceptance in the first place because of his sexuality, and most of all a man who never found love. If we fail to see how his pain, his fears, and his love connect to the basic experiences of our human condition, we fail to understand the play.
Perhaps you will find, in the end, not just a tragic rooming house, but a place where one writer finds a truer self. Perhaps you will find a moment that connects you with audience members, family members, friends, and strangers. If it succeeds, this play will connect people far more quickly than it will separate them. Vieux Carré begs compassion, between characters, actors and audience members alike.
Despite their differences and, at times, hatred of each other, these characters provide us with some beautiful moments of compassion. If these characters can find the room to connect, we must also!
--Andy Rigsby

 











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