The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Theatre and
Dance is reviving a show from the 2003 Southern Arena Theatre season,
Oliver Goldsmith's "She Stoops to Conquer," in the Gilbert
F. Hartwig Theatre.
Sept. 17, the play is a comedy about a young 18th century gentleman
who is shy when speaking with women of his own class, but eloquent
with those of "lower station."
of the cast is new," said Frank Kuhn, chair of the department.
"Many of the summer cast returned to other parts of the country,
but our revival cast members will bring new perspectives to the
characters and relationships."
out that the revival is not part of the regular subscription season
at Southern Miss (which opens Oct. 2 with Martin McDonagh's "The
Cripple of Inishmaan"). He said the restaging is intended "to
offer the university community and any others who weren't in town
over the summer a chance to see the production."
With a new
cast in hand, guest director Cynthia White of Seattle, Wash., will
return to put final touches on the production before it opens. As
the production's guest director during the summer run, White believes
the emotional release of a good story with a group of people is
what excites her most about theater-and what keeps her coming back.
She calls it
"the essential act of theater--actors sharing a story with
the audience." White also attributes actor training as a key
element in performing a piece like "She Stoops to Conquer."
Funny and perceptive,
Goldsmith's play (written in 1773) is a celebrated story of class,
courtship and dysfunctional families. In fact, his own background
of worry and bad health, coupled with incidents of his youth, may
have inspired him to write this now famous comedy.
born in Ireland in 1728. In 1744 he went to Trinity College in Dublin,
where he barely managed to make a living during his studies. His
personal ungainliness and crude manners prevented his making many
friends, and his life at college was miserable. He did graduate
in 1749, after the death of his father, but went to live with his
success for a profession, Goldsmith decided to immigrate to America,
but missed his ship. He then decided to study law, then medicine,
and finally embarked on a walking tour through Flanders, France,
Switzerland and northern Italy, earning his keep with his flute.
In 1756, he returned to England, without a penny in his pocket,
and tried his hand in translations, the writing of superficial histories,
children's books, and general articles. Thus began his true calling.
period piece (written and set at the end of the 18th century), the
play has relevance to the study of history, manners, and literature,"
Kuhn explained. "It's also fascinating to see how universal
and contemporary much of the play is to modern life experiences."
train in order to develop the flexibility to perform in plays of
different periods, cultures and styles," White added. "I
don't think the complexity and difficulty of actor training is generally
appreciated. We all recognize that ballet dancers need to train
in order to do deep plies and high leaps. Athletes need to train
and be in shape. Actors need to hone skills that allow them to speak
18th-century language as naturally and easily as they converse with
their buddies over lunch."
The love of
training actors is partly the reason White accepted the summer directing
position at Southern Miss and her subsequent return for its revival.
While working with students in a rehearsal situation, she gets the
opportunity to teach as well as direct.
important to have guest directors like Cynthia White come to USM,"
Kuhn said. "Hattiesburg is not geographically near many theater
centers, so it is important for us to find ways for our students
to connect with the profession as it exists around the country.
Guest artists are an important part of our program. We are particularly
lucky to have someone with Cynthia's skills and range of experience.
Our students are learning a lot from her."
her own acting career in high school, White believed it to be her
calling. But, after 10 years of practicing her craft, she decided
to go to graduate school and study directing.
actors for putting everything on the line in each performance. It
is hard work," White said. "It is important for the actor
to be able to trust the director and the notes the director is giving
them. The directing process starts off with the director knowing
more about the characters than the actors do, but then, about halfway
through, there comes a time when the actor takes over that knowledge
and is able to shape the show and the character each night when
it is performed."
Sept. 17, 19 and 20 start at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. matinees also
available on Sept. 20 and 21 in the Gilbert F. Hartwig Theatre.
Individual show tickets are $10 for regular admission, $8 for senior
citizens and USM faculty and staff, and $6 for students.
call the Southern Miss Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418 or 800-844-8425.
Order online at www.usm.edu/tickets.
Tickets may be purchased at the theater box office one hour prior
to curtain time for each performance.