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University Theatre productions will address PTSD, cyberbullying

Friday, February 02, 2018


LAWRENCE — University Theatre has announced a double “Black Box” feature opening Feb. 16: Harold Pinter’s “Ashes to Ashes,” a haunting, two-character response to wartime atrocities and the trauma of memory; and Stacie Lents’ “Henry’s Law,” a poignant tragicomedy about cyberbullying in high school. 

Performance dates are at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16 and Feb. 20-22 and at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 18 in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall. 

In “Ashes to Ashes,” Rebecca is struggling with the trauma of being a Holocaust survivor and exploring her memories with the mysterious Devlin. 

“The play invites us to strengthen our political awareness regarding everything that is happening here and around the world,” said “Ashes to Ashes” director and Visiting Assistant Professor Rana Esfandiary. “Pinter writes very vaguely, so there is no direct reference to atrocities carried out by Nazis – there is some decoding of what is happening on stage.”

“Henry’s Law” challenges the audience to identify who the good and bad guys are among a four-character cast.

“It might appear obvious, but, as in life, the people we meet in the beginning of the play all end up being lovable and loathsome in their own ways,” said Michelle Cowles, “Henry’s Law” director and senior theatre major. “At first this script read like a teen romance between the beauty and the geek. However, the story takes a different turn and one that’s really relevant in modern-day America: the real-life consequences of social media.”
Tickets are on sale now at KU ticket offices and online at 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.

Members of the cast and crew of “Ashes to Ashes” are Christopher Russell, Chattanooga, Tennessee, junior, as Devin; Janice Craft, Department of Theatre lecturer, as Rebecca; Rana Esfandiary, visiting assistant professor in theatre and doctoral candidate, director; Spencer Walker, Lawrence master’s degree student, scenic designer; Iman Glaine Hinton, Atlanta master’s degree student, lighting designer; Gabi Finkelstein, Lansing senior, costume designer; Soroush Rezvanbehbahani, Lawrence doctoral student, projection designer; Jason Zeh, guest artist, sound designer, and Reece Dickson, Olathe junior, stage manager. The cast and crew of “Henry’s Law” are Adam Baughman, Shawnee sophomore, as Max; Emma Aspenson, Tulsa, Oklahoma, freshman, as Annie; Gabrielle Smith, Lansing freshman, as Sarah; Jack Zimmerman, St. Louis sophomore, as Jason; Michelle Cowles, Overland Park senior, director; Taylor Zimmerman, Gardner master’s degree student, costume and projection designer; and Emma Dodge, Leavenworth junior, stage manager. 

Note: This production includes adult language and themes and may not be appropriate for all audiences. 

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 & interdisciplinary studies. 

For more information on the Department of Theatre visit theatre.ku.edu. For more information on the University Theatre, visit KUTheatre.com. Follow KU Theatre on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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