"The Dining Room" comes to Pridemore Playhouse
The table, the chairs, the dishes and the aroma of home-cooking. The almost-mythological tradition of sitting down together to a family dinner is the main course of A.R. Gurney's "The Dining Room," the third production of the Radford University Department of Theatre and Cinema's 2013-14 season.
Difficult parents, political debates, troubled marriages and celebrations of life are all served up in the Pridemore Playhouse production beginning Oct. 17.
Set in one dining room, the play depicts 18 different households and features six actors portraying more than 50 characters. Together the assembled vignettes create an overall portrait of the mythic ideal upper-middle-class American family.
"Since the different scenes take place at different points over the last hundred years, we also get to witness people at some fascinating moments in history," said Tommy Iafrate, the play's director and assistant professor of theatre.
Just some of the stories include peeks into the lives of a housewife going back to school during the women's lib movement, a wealthy patriarch considering the effects of the Depression on his family and an Irish maid who wants to leave domestic service, Iafrate said.
The student cast includes just actors: Lucas Wade Connolly, Lauren Faulkner, Bryan Glaize, Annalee Hunter, Taylor Moore, and Kevin Schmidt.
One of the play's principal challenges is that it requires an acting ensemble where each member plays a large number of roles. Commenting on what he characterizes as a "fun and really rewarding rehearsal process" Iafrate says, "As the actors explore their various characters, we've been thinking not only how to use our tools of physicality and voice but also about what the choices we make say on a larger scale." He feels that one of the most interesting discoveries the ensemble has made in rehearsal is that some of the characters break stereotypes.
"The Dining Room" is presented in the Pridemore Playhouse and runs from October 17-19 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a matinee on Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. The Friday, Oct. 18 performance will be sign language interpreted.
There will be a special "Curtain Up!" event in conjunction with the Oct. 17 performance. This includes dinner before the show, a behind-the-scenes conversation with the director and tickets to the show itself. "Curtain Up!" benefits the RU Visiting Artist Fund. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations must be made by Oct. 14.
Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for seniors (55+) and RU faculty and staff, free with an RU Student ID, and there is a group rate (10+) available. Tickets are available at the Porterfield Box Office starting October 8 or by calling (540) 831-5289. The Box Office is open from noon to 6 p.m. and one hour before the start of each performance. Tickets for the Oct. 18 and 19 performances are available two weeks prior to the event at the Hurlbert Hall Information Desk (540- 831-5420).
For more information about the Radford University Department of Theatre and Cinema, please visit the department website.