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Back to reality

 Socially aware arts and events for the southern Maine back-to-schooler
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  September 18, 2014


a still image from 'Opposing Gestures' by Joseph Farbrook

Basically, if you’re a student in southern Maine and are at all interested in arts and humanities, and have a budget of exactly $10 to spend on any one event, there’s a lot in your favor. I mean, I guess there are sporting event schedules online, but I’m pretty sure all of those cost money, and at least one of these events involves free food. So there’s that.

The University of Southern Maine theater department brings three shows to the mainstage in Gorham this fall, at a time when theater that lies just out of the city (the Footlights in Falmouth, Deertrees Theatre, Theater at Monmouth, etc.), has proven to be really, really exciting.
First, a live staged reading of The Well of Horniness by Holly Hughes goes up September 25, and runs for four nights. Director Meghan Brodie, who was responsible for bringing to life a translated version of a French Holocaust drama at USM last spring, describes the show as part detective story, part soap opera, and part camp comedy. The publication of Hughes’s radio play in 1990—for which she lost funding from the National Endowment for the Arts for its content—remains relevant for its confrontation of homophobia, sexism, and racism. In light of a significant loss of faculty and staffing suffered by USM’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences last spring, Brodie’s production is one of many examples of departments reaching out to one another in solidarity, and as part of a renewed sense of community amongst affected programs. The show on Saturday, September 27, will be followed by a Women and Gender Studies post-show discussion at the theater.

THE WELL OF HORNINESS | By Holly Hughes | Directed by Meghan Brodie | Produced by the University of Southern Maine Department of Theater | Sep 25-28 | Russell Hall, Gorham |207.780.5151 | $15 general admission, $5 students |

Next in the season, William Inge’s Bus Stop naturally takes place in a Missouri bus stop, and promises a light-hearted story about a set of quirky strangers who find themselves stranded there by a blizzard. Theater professor Tom Power’s revival of the American classic hopes to attest to the universality of the human spirit and the inevitable conflicts and attractions which color the lives of seemingly divergent folk. Inge, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his play Picnic, is a figurehead in Midwestern theatrical circles, and Bus Stop offers a look into what it was like to live in the crossroads between South and West, during a crossroads in the twentieth century.

BUS STOP | By William Inge | Directed by Thomas Power; Produced by the University of Southern Maine Department of Theater | Russell Hall, Gorham | Oct 31 through Nov 9 | $15, $8 students | 207.780.5151 |

If you’re only willing to take a 20-minute ride west as long as its worth your while, you’d probably be interested in the provocative, disturbing, yet achingly beautiful tragicomic musical about teens going through puberty in sexually repressed nineteenth-century Germany.
A liberal arts college might well be the perfect setting for the musical, which, with songs like “Totally Fucked,” “The Dark I Know Well,” and “The Bitch of Living,” resonated with angsty high school theater kids when it was produced on Broadway back in 2006. Many of those kids are now college-age, and, if not still doing theater, would probably appreciate this rendition, which features students of USM’s School of Music in the 13 title roles.

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