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“Durang/Durang” Showcases the Quirky Comedies of Christopher Durang in Six Sassy One-Act Plays

Durang/DurangRaleigh, NC-based Bare Theatre will kick off its 2012-13 season with Durang/Durang, a provocative 1994 selection of six wild-and-crazy one-act plays by Christopher Durang, on July 19-22 in Burning Coal Theatre Company‘s Murphey School Auditorium in Raleigh and on July 26-29 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham. Guest director Olivia Griego cautions, “This show is for mature audiences only. There is a lot of adult material and content.”

According to Bare Theatre:

Durang/Durang is divided into two parts: ‘Theatre’ and ‘Everything Else.’ In this collection, Durang manages to lovingly jab at a handful of playwrights including Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard, John Pielmeier, and David Mamet. There are two direct parodies of other plays, bringing a lighter version of some of our beloved American classics.

“The first half contains ‘Mrs. Sorken,’ an introduction to theater by a woman who has forgotten her notes; ‘Stye of the Eye,’ a psychotic mash-up of Sam Shepard’s A Lie of the Mind, [John Pielmeier’s] Agnes of God, and [David Mamet’s] Glengarry Glen Ross; and ‘For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls,’ which twists The Glass Menagerie into a tale of gender-switched confusion.

“The second half turns to stories of melodrama, unfortunate houseguests, and terrible waiters. ‘Nina in the Morning,’ is an Edward Gorey-esque portrait of a woman with too many facelifts and taboo relationships with her children. ‘Wanda’s Visit’ is the story of a high-school flame who has flamed out … and won’t leave. ‘Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room’ concludes [Durang/Durang] with a satirical look at the gaping divide between writers and agents.”

Bare Theatre guest director Olivia Griego remembers, “I first came across Christopher Durang in college while looking for a scene for a scene study class. I found Durang’s work [then], as I do now, irreverent and hilarious.”

She adds, “I later took a directing class, and went straight for Durang’s work, directing ‘Wanda’s Visit.’ It was very well received, and I loved the way the actors brought the material to life.

“A couple of years ago, I started working with Bare Theatre; and at the beginning of the year, I was asked to participate as director for their evening of one acts,” Griego says. “Immediately, I thought of Durang and settled on directing ‘For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls,’ Durang’s parody of The Glass Menagerie. It was a so fun to watch and to direct!

“Once the show closed,” Griego says, “I started talking with Todd Buker, managing director of Bare Theatre, and Heather Strickland, artistic director of Bare Theatre, about the hilarity of the whole show; and it was decided that we would mount the full evening of Durang/Durang, and here we are!”

Olivia Griego confesses, “The thing that I like best about Durang/Durang is the humor and parody of the material. No one is safe from being made fun of, and I think that is wonderfully fair. In addition, we have assembled a stellar group of actors that really understand the humor of the plays beautifully.”

She adds, “I’ve seen a lot of serious theater lately, and I wanted to direct something with a lot of laughs that was a pleasure for everyone — the actors, designers, crew and, of course, the audience. This is a show where everyone is having a good time, and audiences get that and have an easier time enjoying themselves.”

Griego explains, “In Durang/Durang, the evening consists of one monologue and five short plays/vignettes. It ranges from theatrical parodies to screwball comedy to melodrama to a frightening slice-of-life.

“Our amazing ensemble (Jason Bailey, Jeff Buckner, Richard Butner, Todd Buker, Hilary Edwards, Lucinda Gainey, Olivia Griego, Whitney Griffin, Barbette Hunter, Andrew Martin, P.J. Maske, and Julie Oliver) play various roles throughout the evening. It’s sort of like the Olympics of theater,” claims Olivia Griego.

In addition to director and set designer Olivia Griego, the Bare Theatre creative team for Durang/Durang includes producers Todd Buker and Heather Strickland, lighting designer Michelle Wood, costume designer Suzy Hooker, wigs and makeup designer Mario Griego, properties manager Mollie Earls, sound designer Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski, and stage manager Beth Roberts.

Olivia Griego says, “Our major challenge [in staging Durang/Durang at two venues in different cities] is changing venues and having to rehearse six plays at one time. We have kept the set and lights simple for this reason.”

She adds, “The set is a simple design made up of mostly chairs and few additional set pieces…. The lighting is also being done with a simplicity that makes it easy to move to different venues while also accentuating the play….

“Some of the costumes are dated, while others are contemporary,” notes Olivia Griego. “Our [costume] designer, Suzy [Hooker], wanted to make sure that each play had its own world that was distinct from the other plays in the evening.”

Director Olivia Griego says, “I think it is important for the audience to know that this show is for enjoyment, to come and laugh — at the characters, at the different worlds of the shows, and sometimes at themselves.”

Bare Theatre presents DURANG/DURANG at 8 p.m. July 19-21 and 2 p.m. July 22 in Burning Coal Theatre Company‘s Murphey School Auditorium, 224 Polk St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27604; and 8 p.m. July 26-28 and 2 p.m. July 29 at Common Ground Theatre, 4815B Hillsborough Rd., Durham, North Carolina 27705.

TICKETS: $17 ($10 students, seniors, and active-duty military personnel).

BOX OFFICE: 919-322-8425, boxoffice@baretheatre.org, or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/browse.html?formsubmitted=1&reset=1&secretkeywords=&keywords=durang/durang.

SHOW: http://www.baretheatre.org/durang.html.

VIDEO PREVIEW: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKl7YTQkK0I&feature=youtu.be.

PRESENTER: http://www.baretheatre.org/.

VENUES:

Murphey School Auditorium: http://burningcoal.org/murphey-school-auditorium/ (directions: http://burningcoal.org/murphey-school-auditorium/).

Common Ground Theatre: http://www.cgtheatre.com/ (directions: http://www.cgtheatre.com/directions).

OTHER LINKS:

Durang/Durang: http://www.christopherdurang.com/FullDurangDurang.htm (official web page).

The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).

Christopher Durang: http://www.christopherdurang.com/ (official website) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Durang (Wikipedia).

Olivia Griego: http://artistsresourceagency.com/html/female_talent___olivia_griego.html (Artists Resource Agency).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

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