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GMU PLAYERS AND DEPARTMENT OF THEATER PRESENT EUGENE O'NEILL'S "AH, WILDERNESS!"

October 2, 2009
Contact: Press & Media Relations Coordinator (703-993-8794)

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GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY’S

DEPARTMENT OF THEATER & GMU PLAYERS

PRESENT

A GMU MAINSTAGE PRODUCTION

“AH, WILDERNESS!”

BY EUGENE O’NEILL

DIRECTED BY HOWARD KURTZ

Oct. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31 at 8 p.m.

 Oct. 24, 31 and Nov. 1 at 2 p.m.

TheaterSpace

 

FAIRFAX, Va., Oct. 1, 2009 GMU Players and George Mason University’s Department of Theater bring Eugene O’Neill’s “Ah, Wilderness!” to the stage this fall. A coming-of-age comedy, “Ah, Wilderness!” depicts American family life at the beginning of the 20th century. O’Neill said the play was a reflection of the childhood he wished he had. Directed by Howard Kurtz, “Ah, Wilderness!” will be performed in TheaterSpace on Mason’s Fairfax campus on Oct. 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31 at 8 p.m., and Oct. 24 and 31, and Nov. 1 at 2 p.m.

Set on July 4, 1906 in a small town in Connecticut, “Ah Wilderness!” is the story of Richard Miller, a recent high school graduate and voracious reader who devours the works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde and Omar Khayyam. Richard’s mother believes that this literature is subversive and worries that her son is becoming an anarchist. As the valedictorian of his high school class, Richard decides to express his contempt for his small community by writing a speech that denounces capitalism. Nat, his father and the publisher of the town newspaper, learns of his son’s intended speech and saves him from public embarrassment. Later at the town’s Independence Day picnic, Richard presents his girlfriend and neighbor, Muriel McComber, poems of his love and devotion to her as fireworks explode in the sky. Finding the love notes, Muriel’s father, David, destroys the poems and forbids Muriel from seeing Richard. Heartbroken, Richard embarks upon a night of drinking and troublemaking that leaves Nat furious and disappointed in his son’s behavior. However, he comes to sympathize with Richard, reminiscing of his own struggles as a young man. Nat and Richard set out to work through the situation and in so doing discover the strength of their father-son relationship.

After completing “Ah, Wilderness!” O’Neill said he wrote “a play true to the spirit of the American large small town at the turn of the century.” Known as one of the pillars of 20th century drama, nearly all of O’Neill’s plays involve some degree of tragedy and personal pessimism, with “Ah, Wilderness!” being the exception. In September 1932, while he labored at the third draft of “Days Without End,” he awoke remembering the dream of a play. In a little more than a month, he had completed “Ah, Wilderness!” The play premiered on Broadway on Oct. 2, 1933 at the Guild Theatre, and was revived on Broadway in 1941, 1975, 1988 and 1991. “Ah, Wilderness!” was made into a film in 1935, and the story was the basis for the musicals “Summer Holiday” (starring Mickey Rooney) and “Take Me Along” (starring Jackie Gleason).

The son of an Irish actor, O’Neill was born in a hotel room in Times Square in New York City. He attended Catholic boarding school as a boy, and briefly studied at Princeton University. After spending several years at sea, O’Neill became a regular in the Greenwich Village literary scene, and then became involved with the Provincetown Players, a Massachusetts-based group of amateur writers and artists who were committed to producing new plays by American playwrights. The Provincetown Players performed many of O’Neill’s early works in their theaters in Provincetown and Greenwich Village, some of which later moved to Broadway. Among O’Neill’s most famous works are three Pulitzer Prize winners: “Beyond the Horizon, “Anna Christie” and “Strange Interlude”; as well as  “Desire Under the Elms,” “Mourning Becomes Electra,” “The Iceman Cometh,” “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “Ah, Wilderness!” O’Neill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936, and was the second American writer to receive this distinction.

The GMU Players ensemble is a dynamic faculty-directed, student organization within the theater department. The Mainstage Series provides students the opportunity to work directly with Mason theater faculty and guest artists, while the Studio Series is selected, directed and designed by students. The GMU Players produce eight productions each season. Director Howard Kurtz, has directed, designed sets and created costume and makeup for 15 years for the GMU Players. Kurtz is an associate professor of theater, and he currently teaches costume design, clothing construction and makeup, as well as an introductory theater course to non-majors. Kurtz was the recipient of the George Mason University Fenwick Fellowship and was honored with the 2001 Teaching Excellence Award.

 

Tickets are $12. ($8 For students, seniors and GMU faculty/staff)

Limited free tickets available for GMU students.

All performances are in TheaterSpace. Free parking available in adjacent surface lots on weekends, paid parking available in the Mason Pond Parking Deck. Tickets may be purchased at the door one hour prior to the performance. To purchase tickets by phone, or for directions, please contact the Center for the Arts Box Office at (703) 993-8888.

For information on group sales, please call Kimberly Schall at (703) 993-8600

For Information on the GMU Theater Department or the GMU Players,

please call (703)-993-1120

 

About Great Performances at Mason

Great Performances at Mason is a program of George Mason University's Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA). CVPA provides an academic environment in which the arts are explored as individual disciplines and interdisciplinary forms that strengthen one another. The college prepares students for careers as creators, performers, teachers, scholars, arts leaders and arts entrepreneurs. Understanding that an education in the arts is deepened by regular contact with the work of distinguished visiting artists, the Center for the Arts, the professional presentation and production arm of the college, welcomes a variety of professional and world-renowned artists, musicians and actors to its stage. Students have the opportunity to perform, create and exhibit their work in a wide variety of public venues including a 2,000-seat Concert Hall. CVPA is home to the Schools of Music, Dance and Art, the Department of Theater, as well as the Computer Game Design, Arts Management and Film and Video Studies programs.

About George Mason University

Named the #1 national university to watch in the 2009 rankings of U.S. News & World Report, George Mason University is an innovative, entrepreneurial institution with global distinction in a range of academic fields. Located in Northern Virginia near Washington, D.C., Mason provides students access to diverse cultural experiences and the most sought-after internships and employers in the country.  Mason offers strong undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering and information technology, organizational psychology, health care and visual and performing arts. With Mason professors conducting groundbreaking research in areas such as climate change, public policy and the biosciences, George Mason University is a leading example of the modern, public university.