This week's theatrical highlights include: an eye-opening experimental drama set on a barren salt-covered island, the latest Triangle appearance of the notorious Miss Pixie and her Merry Band of Miscreants, and a seated reading of an R-rated 18th-century sex comedy.
"And Mary Wept" (The Duke University Institute of the Arts, Sept. 25-Oct. 5 in Sheafer Theater) is the latest epic experimental theater piece by Archipelago Theatre's Ellen Hemphill and Nor Hall. Directed by Hemphill and co-produced by The Duke Institute of the Arts as part of the institute's New Directions Series: Contemporary Visions and Voices, this new play also features an original score by Los Angeles composer Penka Kouneva, who has worked with Archipelago before. [For more information about Kouneva, see CVNC's current news column.]
Hemphill describes the plot of "And Mary Wept" in typically enigmatic fashion. "From the chaos of the world as we know it," she writes, "four characters fall to a barren salt-covered island, governed only by an old woman and her boatman. Severed from their former lives and identities, the stranded people struggle to discover a way out of this waterless existence."
The cast will include artists from the Triangle (Mary Ruth and Christine Morris) and invited performing artists from Europe (Ulrik Barfod, Ian Magilton, Liza Mayer, and Inki Storleer), plus three invited musicians: Leslie Alprin (cello), Eric Chaiken (trumpet), and Tyson Rogers (keyboard).
Set and costume designer Jan Chambers and light designer Lou Pounder will assist Hemphill and Hall in realizing their epic vision.
The Duke University Institute of the Arts presents "And Mary Wept" Wednesday-Saturday, Sept. 25-28 and Oct. 2-5, at 8 p.m. in Sheafer Theater on the lower level of the Bryan Center on Duke University's West Campus. $20 ($12 students). 919/684-4444. http://www.duke.edu/web/dia/calendar.html and http://www.tickets.duke.edu/