Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program and Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society co-produce “Speech and Debate” by Tony Award winner Stephen Karam
Dark comedy runs Jan. 24-Feb. 2 at the Davis Performing Arts Center
Washington, DC—The Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program and Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society co-produce the hit 2007 play by Tony Award winner Stephen Karam “Speech and Debate,” running Jan. 24-Feb. 2 at the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Devine Studio Theatre. Mark Camilli (COL ‘19), a Theater & Performance Studies minor and Math major, directs this hilarious and moving story of misfit teens exploring their sexuality, identity, rights, and personal agency. With faculty advisement by Professor Maya E. Roth, Camilli is stewarding an exceptionally talented cast and staff of first-year through seniors for this project and has made sure that the project engages LGBTQA groups in area schools to connect the play to real-world stakes.
Variety calls “Speech and Debate” “[A] savvy comedy…bristling with vitality, wicked humor, terrific dialogue and a direct pipeline into the zeitgeist of contemporary youth…Karam has a keen ear for how teens talk, move and think, how they view each other and the adult world … and uses both the advantages and perils of cyberspace to make amusing, original points…” Dubbing it “Funny and cliché-free,” the New York Times also notes, “The play’s real accomplishment is its picture of the borderland between late adolescence and adulthood, where grown-up ideas and ambition coexist with childish will and bravado.”
In the play, following the sex scandal of the Republican mayor of Salem, Oregon, three outcast teens are brought together by an unconventional debate team at Salem High School complete with a musical version of The Crucible and a plot to take down the corrupt adults around them. Solomon, a nerdy teen passionate about journalism, hopes to expose homophobic closeted men in positions of power. Diwata’s trying to out her creepy drama teacher who blocks her dreams of stardom. Howie, new to the school, is fighting for the first gay/straight alliance in the area. In this dark comedy with music about sexuality, identity, and power, no one’s secrets are off limits… including their own.
Director Camilli says, “‘Speech & Debate’’s exploration of identity, sexuality, and connection within the high school setting deeply resonate with how we understand ourselves as college students. In college, we still find ourselves fighting for deep human connection, with the larger understanding of how our high school experiences brought us to remain in isolation. We are traveling through a liminal space between our high school selves and our adult world selves. ‘Speech & Debate’ reminds us of how we got here.”
Faculty advisor Roth says of Camilli, “Mark, who is pursing an independent study tied to the work, is doing a glorious job on this piece. There is irreverent humor, glorious music and live questions and social stakes in the room. He and the team are drawing on college students’ access to their own memories of coming of age and into their complex owns in relation to sexuality, rights and relationships. They are also drawing on their deep creative strengths, with [faculty/staff] mentoring collaboration across roles— and communities— for the project.”
Karam’s plays “Sons of the Prophet” and “The Humans” were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2012 and 2016, respectively. “The Humans” also won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play. For his work he’s also received an OBIE Award, two Drama Critics Circle Awards, two Outer Critics Circle and Drama Desk Awards, a Lucille Lortel Award, and Drama League Award. He wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of “Speech and Debate” (2017), which included special appearances by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Darren Criss, as well as an original song performed by Kristin Chenoweth. He also wrote a film adaptation of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” starring Annette Bening, which was released by Sony Picture Classics in 2018,
The production’s design team includes Sound Designer/Music Director Daniel Wheelock (COL ’19), Set Designer Mali Rubin (COL ’20), Lighting Designer Ben Sullivan (COL ’19), Projections Designer Timmy Sutton (COL ‘20) and Costume Designer Vanessa Chapoy (COL ‘18). The cast includes Cristin Crowley (MSB ’20) as Diwata, Ben Ulrich (SFS ’20) as Howie, Nate Weiand (COL ’21) as Solomon, Maddie Warner (COL ’21) as Teacher/Ensemble, Nia Jordan (COL ’21) as Reporter/Ensemble, and Maggie Cammaroto (COL ’22) as Radio Host/Ensemble.
Showtimes include the following:
Thursday-Saturday, January 24-26 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, January 27 at 2 p.m.
Wednesday, January 30-Saturday, February 2 at 8 p.m.
The Davis Performing Arts Center, Devine Studio Theatre is located on Georgetown University’s main campus at 37th and O Streets, NW in Washington, DC 20057.
Tickets are $12 general, and $8 student. Space-available GU student tickets for opening night on January 24 are free (limit one), I.D. required at pickup. To order, visit performingarts.georgetown.edu or call 202-687-ARTS (2787).
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY THEATER & PERFORMANCE STUDIES PROGRAM
Housed in the Davis Performing Arts Center, the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program features a nationally recognized faculty of leading scholar/artists and professional practitioners who offer a dynamic interdisciplinary major that emphasizes the interaction of artistic and analytic inquiry. The Program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, which integrates the political and international character of Georgetown, a commitment to social justice, and high-quality, cutting-edge production seasons, including world premieres. In 2012, Backstage selected the Program as one of the top five college theater programs outside of New York City.
MASK & BAUBLE DRAMATIC SOCIETY distinguishes itself as the oldest continuously running student theatre group in the country, currently celebrating its 167th year at Georgetown University. Mask and Bauble (M&B) is dedicated to creating quality theatre through a tradition of student-to-student mentorship. With an aim to produce a wide variety of works each season, show selections also draw from three pillars of classics, musicals, and student-written works.