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Southern Arena Theatre Returns to Repertory Format June 23-July 17

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Cast members perform the Shakespearean play “A Comedy of Errors.” (Submitted photo)

On the heels of an exciting season of thrilling performances, The University of Southern Mississippi Department of Theatre and Dance will return to a repertory format for the 35th season of Southern Arena Theatre June 23-July 17.

Since its first season in 1977, Southern Arena Theatre (SAT) has been a thriving force in summer theatre in the state and Pine Belt region. As a collaborative effort between both faculty and students, SAT works as a professional theatre company. The 2011 season features two wonderful and highly entertaining productions in the intimate setting of the Gilbert F. Hartwig Theatre at Southern Miss.

“The exciting repertory for SAT 2011 will establish a basis for re-building SAT to its full repertory format in the future,” said Louis Rackoff, SAT producer and theatre professor.

Southern Arena Theatre opens June 23 with a wild parody of the works of William Shakespearetitled “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”Written by Long, Singer, and Winfield, three actors take on the entire Shakespeare Canon in a high-speed 90-minute epic, which includes the world’s fastest “Hamlet” in 43 seconds!

“This rollicking parody of the works of William Shakespeare is filled with improvisation, ‘over the top’ portrayals, and a wicked sense of humor,” Rackoff said. This piece presents fragments of all of the plays in 90 minutes. That’s 37 plays. It’s a wild, crazy ride for everyone.”

The three actors play innumerable roles and directly engage the audience throughout the performance, sometimes commenting on local places and events. Each performance of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”is different from the next, filled with surprises and undiscovered countries.

After its first performance at the Edinburgh Festival in 1987, the London production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”ran for nine record-breaking years. It has become one of the world’s most popular shows, playing frequently in a variety of languages.

The second production of SAT, “Talley’s Folly” is a beautiful romantic comedy by the great American playwright Lanford Wilson. Set in Lebanon, Mo. in 1944, the plot focuses on Sally Talley and Matt Friedman, who meet in a river boathouse and find a way to a bright future. This poignant and touching story won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1980. “Talley’s Folly” opens June 30.

Other performances for “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)”: June 23, 24, 25; July 2, 6, 8, 12, 15 at 7:30 pm; July 3 at 2 p.m.

Other performances for “Talley’s Folly”:June 30, July 1, 5, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16 at 7:30 p.m.; July 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.

For more information about SAT 2011, find the Department of Theatre and Dance on Facebook at facebook.com/USMTheatreDance or on its Web site at usm.edu/theatre.