GU Theater and Performance Studies Launches Season with World Premiere Adaptation of “Six Characters in Search of an Author” Oct

Groundbreaking Pirandello play begins GOING MAD season at Davis Performing Arts Center

Sept. 22, 2009 — Washington, D.C. — The Georgetown University Theater and Performance Studies Program delves into its 2009-10 season, “GOING MAD: Shattering and Re-Imagining the Real,” with a bold new interpretation of an essential classic of world theater, Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” GU Professor and Davis Performing Arts Center Artistic Director Derek Goldman directs his dizzying and moving world premiere adaptation of this meta-theatrical play, hailed as “the major single subversive moment in the history of modern theater,” running Oct. 15-24, 2009 in the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theatre (showtimes below).

Blurring reality and illusion, the play-within-a-play has been called a “multilayered treasure” and “fascinating masterwork” by the New York Times. In this production, six mysterious strangers appear unannounced at a rehearsal of Hamlet (another iconic dramatic exploration of madness), declaring themselves fictional characters on a quest to find an author for their experiences. As their narrative unfolds, a shattering family history of violence, sexual horror, and madness comes to the surface.

At the “Six Characters in Search of an Author” premiere in Rome in 1921, the bewildered audience chanted “Manicomio!” (“Madhouse”), but the groundbreaking work enjoyed more enthusiastic receptions elsewhere and went on to “open the door for Pinter and Beckett and even some of Brecht” (Washington Post). Goldman says, “The play still has the power to shock, frighten us, trouble our notions of what theater is, why we do theater, how it interacts with, or even becomes synonymous with, our own sense of identity… The work explores all this even as it entertains, seduces, makes us laugh — often at ourselves and the madness of what we do together and how we do it.”

Goldman says “Six Characters” also provides a perfect springboard for the full GOING MAD season, highlighting the deep and intricate relationship theater itself has with madness. “Our work as performers, writers, directors, and designers at its core traffics in the exploration of multiple personas, a proliferation of selves. In Pirandello’s terms, we engage in a kind of madness as we craft fictions designed to illuminate the ‘truth’ of our real lives and worlds — socially, psychologically, and politically.”

Other shows in the GOING MAD season include the musical “Caroline, or Change” (Nov. 12-21), a co-production between Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society, Black Theatre Ensemble, the Music Program, and the Theater and Performance Studies Program; a world premiere adaptation of Michel Foucault’s 1961 book “Madness and Civilization” (Feb. 11-20) ; and the D.C. premiere of Timberlake Wertenbaker’s “The Grace of Mary Traverse” (April 8-17).

“Six Characters in Search of an Author” features set design by Robbie Hayes, lighting/projection design by Brian Allard, costume design by Ana Marie Salamat, and sound design by Matt Nielsen, along with an ensemble of 21 performers.

Showtimes include the following:
Thursday-Saturday, Oct. 15-17 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 18 at 2 p.m.
Wednesday-Saturday, Oct. 21-24 at 8 p.m.

Tickets for Friday and Saturday evening only are $18 general; $15 faculty/staff/alumni/senior (65 or older); and $10 student. Tickets for all other performances are $15 general; $12 faculty/staff/alumni/senior (65 or older); and $7 student. Also available for purchase this season is the new Flex Pass, which entitles the bearer to four tickets to any combination of the shows in the GOING MAD season: just $50 for the general public (up to 30% savings), $40 for faculty/staff/alumni/senior (up to 33% savings) and $20 for Georgetown University students (up to 50% savings).

To order or for more information, visit or call (202) 687-ARTS (2787).

About the director
Derek Goldman is Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center and Associate Professor of Theater and Performance Studies. An award-winning director and adapter/playwright, he has directed off-Broadway, internationally, and worked regularly with leading regional theatres around the country and throughout the D.C. area. As Founding Artistic Director of the StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, a socially-engaged professional theatre founded in Chicago and now based in Chapel, Hill, N.C. he led the company for 15 years through more than 60 productions. Recent credits include his adaptation of Lysistrata with Synetic Theater and GU; Eurydice at Round House Theater; Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears, which he developed with the legendary Theodore Bikel and premiered at Theater J, and which will open in New York and tour internationally in the coming year; As You Like It at Folger Theater; his adaptation of Studs Terkel’s Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which premiered at Steppenwolf in Chicago and has been presented at numerous leading venues around the country (with cast members including Garrison Keillor, David Schwimmer, David Strathairn, etc.), as well as work at Lincoln Center, Arena Stage, the Kennedy Center, and more. He has a Ph. D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and has been the recipient of awards for his teaching and for his published scholarship on the politics of adaptation. Other GU directing credits include The Winter’s Tale, his nationally acclaimed Holocaust play Right As Rain, The Skin of Our Teeth, and the D.C. premieres of Eurydice and Stuff Happens. Other upcoming projects In Darfur at Theater J and a new adaptation of Kafka’s Metamorphoses with Synetic.

About the Theater and Performance Studies Program
Part of Georgetown University’s Department of Performing Arts, the Theater and Performance Studies Program integrates creative and critical inquiry, emphasizing artistic excellence, interdisciplinary learning, socially-engaged performance, and the spirit of collaboration. Now offering a dynamic major in Theater and Performance Studies, the Program features a nationally-recognized faculty, including a number of the field’s leading scholar/artists, and many of the region’s leading professional theater practitioners. One of the country’s only undergraduate programs in Theater and Performance Studies, the fast-growing program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, reflecting the political and international character of Georgetown, as well as for its commitment to social justice, and its high-quality, cutting-edge student production seasons. The Theater and Performance Studies Program is distinctive for its focus on adapting, devising and developing new work, civic theater and community-based performance, political theater, international and crosscultural performance, playwriting, performance art, solo and multimedia performance, ensemble-created performance, physical theater, world theater history, and innovative approaches to design and technology, acting, directing, dramaturgy, technical theater, and more.

A partial and rapidly growing list of theatrical luminaries who have had sustained contact with Georgetown students in the Davis Center includes: Theodore Bikel, Irina Brown, Dan Conway, Nilo Cruz, Peter DiMuro, David Dower, Joe Dowling, Olympia Dukakis, David Edgar, Rick Foucheux, Michael Friedman, Marcus Gardley, Ed Gero, Danny Hoch, David Henry Hwang, Moises Kaufman, Liz Lerman, Emily Mann, Sister Helen Prejean, Heather Raffo, Clint Ramos, Stephen Richard, Ari Roth, Christopher Sivertsen, Molly Smith, Tony Taccone, Irina and Paata Tsikurishvili, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Charles Randolph Wright, Karen Zacarias, and Mary Zimmerman.