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Shakespeare's Text Reimagined for Today

Monday, February 8, 2021

Get Ready for this KU and Island Shakespeare Festival Collab

writing quill with fire coming off of it where the ink would beThe 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 Visiting Assistant Professor Santiago Sosa, who is also directing. Sosa is credited with the collaboration between KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance and Island Shakespeare Festival in Washington state.

"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. The show was conceived during weeks of quarantine while reading and watching countless hours of news and Shakespeare plays, simultaneously," Sosa said. "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 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 in March 5, 6 and 7, 2021. 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 Director of Theatre Katherine Pryor. “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.”

Santiago 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, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, The Theater Bug, Muse of Fire: Shakespeare at Sloss, Door Shakespeare, Writers Theatre, Forward Theatre, Definition Theatre, Nashville Children’s Theater, Nashville Repertory Theatre, Studio Tenn, The Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and Virginia Samford Theatre. He studied improv and standup at iO Chicago and is a member of the SAFD and DAI. He was the co-founder of From the Branch Theatre Company, serving as its artistic director for seven years. Santiago recently served as an associate artist for the Nashville Shakespeare Festival for several years where he co-founded and taught at The School at Nashville Shakes, acted, directed, fight choreographed, text coached, and worked as their Apprentice Company Director for four years. Currently, he serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor teaching voice and acting at the University of Kansas while working as a freelance director, actor, fight director, and text coach around the country. 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 santiagomanuelsosa78.com.

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; Department of Theatre & Dance Professor Mark Reaney as projections designer; Hanah Glimpse, a Phoenix, Ariz., senior, as costume designer; Maricela Alaniz, an Oceanside, Calif./San Antonio, Texas senior, as script supervisor; Lauren Smith, a Topeka sophomore as dramaturg; and Kennedy Bradenburg, 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 the University of Kansas’ 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.    




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