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UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance Begins Diverse 2012-13 Season with Inaugural Performance-based Haunted House

Originally posted by The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance
September 19, 2012

The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance 2012-13 season offers five exciting major productions starting with The Haunt, a performance-based haunted house and dance party. It includes a new work by Granada Artist-in-Residence and renowned Nigerian choreographer Qudus Onikeku and Euripedes’ The Bacchae directed by famous stage and screen actor Barry McGovern. Additionally, the department’s growing ITDP (Institute for Theatre, Dance and Performance) offers unticketed productions and events which are open to the public with suggested donation only. The fall ITDP line-up includes the acclaimed Fractalicious! produced by visiting artists Bryan Reynolds and Transversal Theater Company and a staged reading ofToday I Live by Susan-Jane Harrison which was recently presented at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Department of Theatre and Dance Chair Lynette Hunter is excited about the new season and ITDP line-up, “This year’s main productions offer a fabulous combination of radically traditional and challenging new work, from our acclaimed Granada artists, and our dedicated and inspiring graduate students and undergraduates in Theatre and Dance. Along with the ITDP, there is a lively mix of new visions for both classic and experimental material in theatre, dance, film and performance that promises to reach out to the whole campus and community.”

Fall Season
The Department of Theatre and Dance brings Halloween thrills and chills with The Haunt at Wright Hall, a new annual performance-based haunted house and costume dance party. This year’s theme, “A Twisted Fairy Tale,” includes numerous interactive performance stages with start times every 15 minutes. Cast and designers are composed of graduate and undergraduate students directed by Professor Bella Merlin and Performance Studies Ph.D. candidate Josy Miller.

A visitor’s journey through the haunted environments at Wright Hall will culminate in “A Twisted Fairy Tale’s” wedding celebration where guests may dance the night away in the Arena Theatre. One may also skip the haunted house and solely enjoy the dance party.

Although dressing up is optional for The Haunt at Wright Hall, this offers an extra layer of Halloween fun. Costumes can be rented in advance or through 7 p.m. on performance nights at Wright Hall’s The Enchanted Cellar.

The Haunt at Wright Hall offers all ages a new way to celebrate the Halloween season. Rated an eerie PG-13, it plays Thursday-Sunday, Oct. 25-28, and Tuesday-Wednesday, Oct. 30-31. All tickets are sold only at Main Theatre, Wright Hall box office before the show.

For costume rental appointments and information, contact The Enchanted Cellar at 530.752.0740 or

Theatre and Dance’s second production of the season brings a familiar face to campus. Granada Artist-in-Residence Barry McGovern is known to many for his roles in films including “Braveheart,” “Far and Away” and “Billy Bathgate.” He will be directing the famous Greek tragedy The Bacchae by Euripedes where Dionysus, god of wine and revelry, aided by his wild Bacchae followers, locks horns with King Pentheus of Thebes in a violent power struggle of great confusion and madness.

McGovern is quick to point out, “This translation of The Bacchae by distinguished Irish poet Derek Mahon is very modern in tone and richly comedic without weakening the tragedy.”

The subject of The Bacchae is a recurring theme in Greek mythology: a mortal defies a god and is punished. But Euripedes’The Bacchae is unusual in that it was uncommon for a god to play so prominent a part in the action of a Greek tragedy. Dionysus is a god who comes to Thebes disguised as a mortal. He is upset that his aunts have claimed that he is not a god, son of Zeus. Pentheus, his cousin (and a mortal), is now King of Thebes. Pentheus is upset with Dionysus for driving the women of Thebes wild with drinking and sexual licence of the vilest kind claiming all to be a religious rite. The conflict between Dionysus and Pentheus forms the heart of the play.
The Bacchae opens on Thursday, Nov. 29 and continues through Saturday, Dec. 8 in Main Theatre, Wright Hall.

Winter Season

Theatre and Dance’s winter quarter begins with MFA Thesis Choreographies, new works by Master of Fine Arts candidates Iu-Hui Chua and Christine Germain.
Ligilo ネクサス by Iu-Hui Chua travels through the worlds of memories, dreams and present realities to explore the incessant draw towards creating one’s identity, focusing on the age-old question, “Who am I”?

En Root, En Route by Christine Germain observes how our relationship to our environment influences the way we understand, feel and use our body; how our personal history creates our identity, and how we adapt to a new identity that has been transformed following trauma, change of place, change of culture, or perhaps a change of language.

The evening will include a short collaborative dance video “Nexus” by both choreographers with contribution by Ellen Bromberg. It addresses memories of place and space, and questions what one considers home. Can home lie somewhere among two nationalities, various countries, and multicultural identities? Can home be the movement in the world, in space? Or can home be represented by language, a journey, a lifestyle, or travel?

MFA Thesis Choreographies opens at Mondavi Center’s Vanderhoef Studio Theatre on Thursday, Feb. 21 and runs through March 3.

Winter quarter also brings a new and as-of-yet untitled work by Qudus Onikeku, Granada Artist-in-Residence and preeminent Nigerian choreographer. Onikeku’s Yoruba culture-based choreography often fuses hip hop, capoeira, and Nigerian dance with acrobatics and tends to explore themes of identity and exile.

In 2007 Onikeku directed “Do We Need Coca-Cola to Dance?” ― an urban dance project in various African cities which gave rise to a documentary film. Other works include “I Must Set Forth,” (2009) at the Bates Dance Festival, “My Exile is in my Head,” (2010) at Centquatre in Paris and “STILL/Life” (2011) at the Festival d’Avignon.

Onikeku’s new choreography will open on March 7 and plays through March 17 in Main Theatre at Wright Hall.

Spring Season
Spring quarter at the Department of Theatre and Dance kicks off with the third annual Edge Performance Festival. This year’s line-up is comprised of five productions: Main Stage Dance, Solo Explorations, Hour of 5’s, Undergraduate One-Acts and the ever-popular “Rocky Horror Picture Show” Sing-Along.

Main Stage Dance will debut choreographies devised by graduate and qualifying undergraduate students. Solo Explorations presents new individual pieces by graduating Master’s of Fine Arts acting candidates Bobby August, Jr., Maria Candelaria, Susan-Jane Harrison and Aaron Jessop. Hour of 5’s offers five-minute acts such as scenes, monologues, dances and songs. Undergraduate One-Acts features original staged works.

Sing-along late night showings of the famous midnight movie “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) gives audiences the opportunity to dress-up and sing and dance along. The stylized comedic musical is both dark and daring in its portrayal of gay and transgender culture and sexual quirks. Rocky Horror costumes can be rented in advance or in the lobby before the show ― contact The Enchanted Cellar at 530.752.0740. This production is rated R.

The Edge Performance Festival runs April 25-28 and May 2-5. Some events may overlap; all are held in various locations at Wright Hall.

The last production of the season is the 13th Annual UC Davis Film Festival. Presented by the Davis Varsity Theatre, it is produced by the Department of Theatre Dance, Cinema and Technocultural Studies and Art Studio. Last year’s packed audiences indicate the growing popularity of this event featuring a wide array of short student films including animation, comedy, drama, commercials, documentaries, music videos and more. Filmmakers include a wide range of undergraduate and graduate students from across the campus.

Last film festival year’s winners included a contemporary retelling of the Cinderella story as silent film, “The Awful Artist,” by Elaine Milhailff; the documentary “Aliwa Mu Aku (Not Alone)” by Kirby Araullo about a young Filipino immigrant studying in California,and Todd Kaiser’s experimental piece “Double Exposures,” which artfully explores the analogue photography technique.

The 13th Annual UC Davis Film Festival plays Wednesday-Thursday, May 22-23, at 8:30 p.m. at the Varsity Theatre in downtown Davis. Tickets will be available at the Varsity box office starting May 15.

All season performance dates and venues are subject to change.

Tickets to all Department of Theatre and Dance season productions (excluding The Haunt at Wright Hall and the UC Davis Film Festival) may be purchased in advance at the Mondavi Center ticket office,, 530.754.2787 or 866.754.2787. They may also be purchased at the door for a slightly higher price (provided the show has not sold out).

An order of fifteen or more tickets for a single performance receives a 10 percent discount. Groups of 25 or more receive a 10 percent discount plus two free tickets. High school and youth groups of 10 or more receive a special rate of $5 per ticket ($10 for musicals) at the teacher or group leader’s request. Please contact the publicity director at 530.752.5863 or via email for these and other special rates.

For ticket details, photos and more information, please visit our website at

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