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'Perfect Arrangement' focuses on seldom-told stories of the gay rights movement

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Show artwork for Perfect Arrangement by Topher PayneLAWRENCE — Coming soon to the University Theatre stage, “Perfect Arrangement” explores the challenges of maintaining a queer family during the McCarthy era.

Based on the early history of the gay rights movement, this acerbic comedy of love and marriage in the U.S. State Department depicts the challenges of being in the closet. It was written by Topher Payne and is being directed by James L. Dick, the assistant director of theatre with the University of Kansas Department of Theatre.

“Perfect Arrangement” opens March 31. Performances are 7:30 p.m. March 31 and April 5-7 and 2:30 p.m. April 7 and 8 in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall.

“The play centers on a group of queer characters and accurately depicts the difficulty and emotional toll of living an inauthentic life,” Dick said. “The Lavender Scare of the 1950s prompted the State Department to purge its ranks of anyone susceptible to blackmail, but primarily gays and lesbians.

"It was important to me to be able to represent this on our stage, especially through such a subversive comedy. The play helps remind us just how far we have come and how far we still have to go.”

Tickets for “Perfect Arrangement” are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at www.kutheatre.com. Tickets are also available by calling the University Theatre, 785-864-3982, and the Lied Center, 785-864-ARTS. Tickets are $15 for adults, $14 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff, and $10 in advance, $15 at the door for KU students.

“Perfect Arrangement” includes use of homophobic language indicative of the period.

The company includes Victoria Kilkenny, Shawnee senior, as Millie Martindale; Stephen Elberg, Weston, Florida, junior, as Bob Martindale; Elsa Bernauer, Leawood sophomore, as Norma Baxter; Jakob Reitz, Seneca sophomore, as Jim Baxter; Garrett Claud, San Clemente, California, sophomore, as Theodore Sunderson; Noelle Olson, Lawrence senior, as Kitty Sunderson; Taylor McTague, Allen, Texas, senior, as Barbara Grant; Abbey Lynn Smith, Altamont senior, lighting designer; Chelsea Pitts, Topeka MFA student, scenic and sound designer; Katelynn Schultz, Oskaloosa junior, costume designer; David Ruis Fisher, Kansas City Ph.D. student, as the dramaturg; Jason Bohon, visiting assistant professor of theatre, fight and intimacy choreographer; and Hollyanna Mathews, Bentonville, Arkansas, sophomore, as the stage manager.

Jim Dick, assistant director of theatreDick previously directed "Reckless" for the University Theatre. He earned his BFA in theatre education from Drake University. There, he directed "Prelude to a Kiss" and appeared in several productions. He served as artistic director of Drake’s Playwrights’ Acting Company for two seasons. He has also served as a resident director with Central Iowa Repertory Theatre. In December 2017, Dick was named KU Staff Employee of the Month.

The Department of Theatre is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

For more information on the Department of Theatre and the University Theatre, visit KUTheatre.com or log on to TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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