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Shakespeare's Text Reimagined for Today

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

LAWRENCE – The University Theatre’s spring debut brings professional actors Zooming in to interact with student actors for the world premiere of “Musings of Fire.” A poignant illumination of the country’s current political, social and cultural climate, “Musings of Fire” has been adapted from Shakespeare’s text by Santiago Sosa, visiting assistant professor, who is also directing. Sosa is credited with the collaboration between the University of Kansas Department of Theatre & Dance and Island Shakespeare Festival in Washington state.

Santiago Sosa, director of "Musings of Fire"“'Musings of Fire’ is a theatrical, spoken-word, movement-driven, devised experience that explores the current political, cultural and social climate that this country has been thrust in and asked to navigate by using — and, sometimes, recontextualizing — the words of William Shakespeare to illuminate the many things that are running through our mind's eye,” Sosa said. “This show was conceived during weeks of quarantine while reading and watching countless hours of news and Shakespeare plays simultaneously. Partnering with ISF creates an opportunity to try something unique while giving our students an opportunity to work with and learn from professional Shakespearean actors.”

“We are so excited to partner with KU to bring forth this world premiere production using Shakespeare's text to investigate contemporary social justice. The themes we find in Shakespeare's canon are relevant generation after generation, and we're so proud of this group for diving in and uncovering what resonates today,” said Olena Hodges, artistic director for Island Shakespeare Festival.

Musings of Fire poster with image of flames“Musings of Fire” performances will be recorded with a small, invited audience in February. This new work will be staged on the Crafton-Preyer Theatre. A video of the performance will be free to access March 5-7. Please see http://kutheatre.com/performances for the most recent updates. 

Students will receive pay and professional credit for participation in KU’s production. “Musings of Fire” will then be incorporated into Island Shakespeare Festival’s 2021-22 season.

“Rehearsal is underway for the University Theatre’s spring season. A world premiere to kick off spring shows the creative heart of KU, and our dynamic passion for the artform, is just as strong as ever,” said Katherine Pryor, director of theatre. “We appreciate our community’s support, understanding and generosity as we continue in uncharted waters. This unique theatre education incubator we call University Theatre usually gives you a front row seat to watch Jayhawks grow. We hope the digital offerings of the University Theatre fill your souls with hope.”

Stage of "Musics of Fire" showing performer Diego Rivera-Rodriguez.Sosa is a director, actor, educator, fight director, and voice and text coach who earned a BFA in acting and directing from Texas State University and an MFA in acting from the University of Wisconsin. Santiago has worked at American Players Theatre, Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Island Shakespeare Festival, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Rep and Nashville Shakespeare Festival, among others. He studied improv and standup at iO Chicago. Currently, he serves as a visiting assistant professor teaching voice and acting at KU. He is the recipient of the Horton Foote award for playwriting, Robert Yeager Award for directing, the Advanced Opportunity Fellowship for acting, and, last year, won the First Night Award for Outstanding Costume Design. Learn more at his website.

The “Musings of Fire” casts consists of Tehreem Chaudhry, a Lawrence senior; Jeremiah Coleman, a Wichita sophomore; India MacDonald, a Topeka sophomore; Diego Rivera-Rodriguez, a Lawrence sophomore; and the following actors from Island Shakespeare Festival: Candice Handy, Morgan Davis, Jeff Natter and Joe Leitess. Rounding out the creative team are John Rohr, a second-year MFA student in scenography, as scenic and lighting designer; Mark Reaney, professor of theatre & dance, as projections designer; Hanah Glimpse, a Phoenix, Arizona, senior, as costume designer; Maricela Alaniz, an Oceanside, California, and San Antonio, Texas, senior, as script supervisor; Lauren Smith, a Topeka sophomore, as dramaturg; and Kennedy Brandenburg, Wichita junior, as stage manager.

Located on Whidbey Island, Washington, Island Shakespeare Festival’s mission is to provide accessible classical theatre, realized for a contemporary audience.

The University Theatre is a production wing of KU's Department of Theatre & Dance, offering eight public productions throughout the academic year. The University Theatre’s Spring 2021 productions are funded, in part, by Student Senate fees and supported by Truity Credit Union. 

The Department of Theatre & Dance is one of three 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 arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies. For more information on the Department of Theatre & Dance, visit theatredance.ku.edu. For more information on the University Theatre, visit KUTheatre.com.      

Top right photo: Santiago Sosa.

Bottom right photo: Diego Rivera-Rodriguez rehearses a scene in “Musings of Fire.” Credit: Luke Jordan.

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