Come (to a) play
Theater is about connection.
We come together in a darkened room, united by the spectacle we see before us. We have a good time, we get inspired, we learn things we might’ve never known otherwise. We get a chance to think about what it must be like to live lives that are different from ours. We think about what it means to be creative, to be alive, to be citizens of the world together.
Come imagine, enjoy, laugh.
Come to a play at UMass Theater.
This season’s shows are all new works, with several either developed or re-envisioned here at UMass! Stay for free talks to learn about the challenges and rewards of creating fresh, cutting-edge theater. Check this page for the schedule as each production nears!
See our outreach page for information about the Morning Matinee and related resources.
See the sidebar for subscription and group discounts.
By David Adjmi
Directed by Christina Pellegrini
11/5/15 Half-price Preview at 7:30
11/7/15, 11/11/15, 11/12/15, 11/13/15 at 7:30
11/14/15 at 2:00 & at 7:30
“I was built to be this thing; and now they’re killing me for it.” In Adjmi’s poetic modern text, Marie is imagined as a celebrity at once celebrated and scorned for her excesses, simultaneously a trapped girl and a vapid power-broker. She is watched at all moments, and we eat it up—and then we eat her up.
Attend one of our free post-show talks to learn more about some of the themes and ideas explored in the play. Talks immediately follow the performance and are free to anyone and everyone — you don't need to be an audience member!
Schedule of topics:
Nov. 7: Revolutionary Fashion! How Clothes Make the Movement
Nov. 11: Going Viral: Mass Media and Social Movements
Nov. 12: Britney in '07: Celebrity Culture and the Destruction of Idols
Nov. 13: Bad Mama: Motherhood and Leadership
Music by Aaron Jones
Story & words by Harley Erdman & Gina Kaufmann
Directed by Gina Kaufmann
Musical direction by Mark Swanson
11/19/15, 11/20/15, 11/21/15, 12/3/15, 12/4/15 at 7:30
12/5/15 at 2 pm
How does Don Juan’s notorious modus operandi fare when it’s deployed on a contemporary college campus? Darkly comic and set to a propulsive rock beat, the new musical Donny Johns explores the legend from the perspective of the women targeted for seduction. This story, developed here at UMass, digs irreverently into issues of consent, sex, love, and romance, examining the consequences, good and bad, of hook-up culture and shifting sexual mores.
Please stay after each performance for a post-show Q&A with the artists — your thoughts about this new musical are vital to its further development!
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Nikoo Mamdoohi
2/25/16 Half-Price Preview at 7:30
2/27/16, 3/1/16, 3/2/16, 3/3/16, 3/4/16 at 7:30
3/5/16 at 2:00 & at 7:30
In acquiring the gadgets we use to connect, have we lost the reason for our communication: how to share our feelings, care for others, and love? Love and Information prompts us to see ourselves, our lives, our concerns, and all our longings in surprising new ways. Churchill’s dazzling language draws us into brief encounters with a series of characters, until the story that emerges is not about individuals, but about humanity and connection.
Love and Information is such a multi-faceted play that it has something in it for everyone. Every performance of the production will be followed by small group discussions moderated by members of the production team and UMass Theater students. Audience members, you are invited to talk about your experience of the show and how others connected to it, perhaps in different ways! The post-show discussions are free and open to all audience members immediately following every performance of Love and Information.
By Kim Euell and Stephanie Swirsky
Directed by Christina Pellegrini and Corinne Miller
Show #1: What Actually Happened Was
Performing 3/24/16, 3/31/16 at 7:30
and 4/2 at 2:00
Show #2 The Dance
Performing 3/25/16, 4/1/16, 4/2/16 at 7:30
It isn’t every day you get to be so intimately a part of creating new work. In Play Lab, playwrights (Kim Euell and another yet to be announced) work with a dedicated team to mount staged readings of two brand-new works, followed by a lively conversation between audience and artists. Those performances and discussions will transform not just how audiences see and experience the act of artistic creation, it will shape the future of the plays that are performed!
The selected plays are Kim Euell's The Dance and Stephanie Swirsky's What Actually Happened Was.
What Actually Happened Was
What Actually Happened Was is a hyper-naturalistic exploration of millennial college courtship in an age of dick pics and emojis. At the center of the story is a rape and its complicated fallout between two best friends: Olivia and Eric.
Stephanie Swirsky writes about illness, death, grieving, and Jewish identity with humor, levity, and a sense of romantic adventure. Her plays have been developed or produced at The Brick Theater, The Flea Theater, INTAR, Luna Stage, Theatricum Botanicum, and WordBRIDGE, among others. Stephanie received her BA from New York University and her MFA in Dramatic Writing from the University of Southern California.
Set in the San Francisco Bay Area in the nineties, against the backdrop of Nelson Mandela's historic visit, The Dance explores the art and relationships of two young artists and an activist attorney as they struggle to define their identities, ideals and commitments in a rapidly changing world. Reflecting the zeitgeist of the times, The Dance merges movement, music, spoken word poetry and dialogue in this story of betrayal and forgiveness.
Kim Euell's plays have been developed and performed in theaters around the nation including Portland's Imago Theater, The LA Theater Center, Detroit's Plowshares Theater, Center Theater Group's Mark Taper Forum, Hartford Stage, San Francisco's Lorraine Hansberry Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville , Seattle's Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center and The Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Penumbra Theatre's production of The Diva Daughters DuPree was named Outstanding New Show of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Kim has taught playwriting workshops nationally and overseas. She is currently the UMASS Visiting Artist in Playwriting.
Created and directed by Ping Chong + Talvin Wilks
Produced in association with Ping Chong + Company
4/14/16 Half-Price Preview at 7:30
4/16/16, 4/20/16, 4/21/16, 4/22/16 at 7:30
4/23/16 at 2:00 & at 7:30
Morning Matinee 4/15/16 at 10 (open to schools, youth organizations, adult learning groups, educational outings, etc. Study guides and post-show Q&A are free for Morning Matinee patrons.)
Discounts available at the door for students:
DORM NIGHT DISCOUNTS!
UMass Theater will offer half-price ticket nights for dorms and living areas on designated nights of our production of Collidescope 2.0. Show your valid student ID and pay only $4 per ticket at the door when you come on the discount night for your living area.
(Cash only, please. And yes, you can buy for a friend or date!)
April 20 at 7:30 p.m.—Southwest
April 21 at 7:30 p.m.— Orchard Hill and Central
April 22 at 7:30 p.m.— North/Northeast/Sylvan and Commonwealth Honors College
April 23 (2 p.m. show only) — UMass students living off-campus
What would visitors from another world think if they looked at the race history of the United States? In Collidescope 2.0: Adventures in Pre and Post Racial America, which runs at the UMass Amherst Department of Theater from April 14 to 23, an alien species attempts to make sense of a subject fraught with inherent misperceptions, ironies and contradictions. Taking an “alien” view of this aspect of human behavior, the gaze of Collidescope places these issues under a microscope. Traveling from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, exploring the Pre-Revolutionary War era when freedmen and slaves contemplated their rights in a soon-to-be independent nation, then back to the present day, this work creates a cubistic frame, revealing different angles from which to observe America’s troubled “peculiar” history and its on-going, violent consequences.
We will have post-show conversations on April 16 and April 20-23. Stay tuned for details about topics and guest respondents, and check our website for updates as the event approaches.
Saturday, April 16 at 5 PM: Ping Chong, Talvin Wilks, and Judyie Al-Bilali will share thoughts
about this process and Art. Legacy, & Community. Rand Theater
Wednesday, April 20 at 5 PM: Gilbert McCauley and Oscar Collins (CMASS):
Mentoring and Leadership with students of color. Rand Theater
Thursday, April 21, post-show: Chancellor Subbaswamy and the Cast will
discuss social justice on our campus. Rand Theater
Saturday, April 23 at 5 PM: Megan Lewis and Tom Schiff will discuss white allyship.
Upper Rand Studio
Ping Chong and Talvin Wilks make cutting-edge theater that asks incisive questions about the society we live in, and on April 4 at 4 p.m., these two artists will offer a look at their artistic process when they deliver the Rand Lecture at the University of Massachusetts Department of Theater. The event will take place in the Rand Theater, in the UMass Fine Arts Center, and it is FREE and OPEN to all local students and community members. UMass Theater invites everyone with an interest in theater or social justice to come listen and bring questions.
The Rand Lecture is presented by the Department of Theater thanks to Margarita Hopkins Rand, the wife of Professor Frank Prentice Rand, who died in 1971 and for whom the Rand Theater is named. Mrs. Rand supported the arts as much as her husband did and created a sort of salon in her home where faculty and students gathered to share ideas and socialize. In her will, she left the department funds to support scholarships for theater students and to provide "entertaining and articulate lectures of interest to students in the Humanities." We are proud to use Mrs. Rand's bequest to fund this year's event.
For this year's Rand Lecture, Dramaturgy faculty Priscilla Page will facilitate a conversation with UMass Theater artists-in-residence Ping and Talvin, who will discuss their longstanding collaborative relationship and provide insights on their creative process for Collidescope 2.0: Adventures in Pre and Post Racial America, a UMass Theater production later this spring. Ping and Talvin's credentials are impressive: Ping is a recipient of the 2015 National Medal of the Arts and Talvin is an acclaimed director, dramaturg, and playwright who has worked on Bessie award-winning productions with Bebe Miller. Ping and Talvin have a twenty-year history of making meaningful and provocative work together, the latest of which is Collidescope 2.0.
The Rand Lecture is held April 4 at 4 p.m. in the Rand Theater in the Fine Arts Center and is FREE and OPEN to all.
Collidescope 2.0 is the culmination of the Art, Legacy, and Community project, a two-year investigation into local African-American history, and uses theater as a powerful means to interrogate where we have come from and where we are going as a society.
Art, Legacy & Community is made possible in part by the generous support of UMass Department of Theater, WEB DuBois Dept. of Afro American Studies, Commonwealth Honors College, President’s Creative Economy Fund, Public Service Endowment Grant, Arts at Amherst, MOSAIC (Five College Multicultural Theater Committee), Five College Theater Chairs, Jackie Pritzen Endowment of Five Colleges Inc., Five College Consortium, Institute for Teaching Excellence and Faculty Development, UMass Interdisciplinary Studies Institute, CMASS (Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success), Amherst College English Dept., UMass History Dept., UMass English Dept., UMass Communications Dept., Mt. Holyoke College History Dept. UMass College for Humanities and Fine Arts and the Office of UMass Chancellor Subbaswamy.