Butler Theatre will begin its 2016-2017 season with a free reading of Kurt Vonnegut’s play Happy Birthday, Wanda June on September 8 at 7:00 PM in the Schrott Center for the Arts.

Butler University Lilly Hall December 15, 2014.

Butler University Lilly Hall December 15, 2014.

The fall season will continue November 9-13 with The Seagull, a reinterpretation of Anton Chekhov’s classic play, in the Schrott Center, and Chamber Music (November 30-December 4), an absurdist play by Arthur Kopit, in Lilly Hall Studio Theatre 168.

The spring season will feature Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie (February 15-26 in Lilly Hall 168) and Caryl Churchill’s Love & Information (April 5-15, Lilly Hall 168).

Show times and ticket prices are below. For more information, call 317-940-9659.

“The plays in our 2016-17 season offer our students exciting artistic opportunities and provide our audiences with the golden opportunity to see classic plays from the past one hundred years—from the founding of the contemporary era through to a new play destined to become a classic of our current time,” said Diane Timmerman, Chair of Butler Theatre. “This season is theatre at its finest!”

More about each play follows.

Schrott Center for the Arts
September 8, 7:00 PM

Big game hunter and war hero Harold Ryan returns home to America, after having been presumed dead for several years, to find that his wife has developed relationships with men very much unlike him, including a vacuum salesman called Shuttle and a hippie doctor called Dr. Woodly, who later becomes Harold’s foe. Harold also finds that his son, Paul, has been pampered and grown unmanly. Harold Ryan, the prolific killing machine, is very unsatisfied.

The play is set during 1960s America, and Harold feels the country has become weak, all the heroes have been replaced by intolerable pacifists, and that in post-war America there is no proper enemy for him to vanquish. This is the story of his tragic attempt to find one.

“There is no bad time to do an anti-war/anti-killing play,” Director William Fisher said. “This one is savage and brilliantly funny.”

The reading is offered as a collaborative event leading up to the Indianapolis Opera’s premiere of Happy Birthday, Wanda June, written by Vonnegut and Butler University School of Music Professor Richard Clark. The staged reading actors will be local professional Equity actors and Butler Theatre students.

Schrott Center for the Arts
Students $8; Seniors $13; General/Adult $19; Student matinee $10
Early bird student matinee ticket: $8 (available until Friday, September 30)
November 9: 7:00 PM
November 10: 7:00 PM
November 11: 10:00 AM (student matinee) and 7:00 PM
November 12: 7:00 PM
November 13: 2:00 PM

Noted Russian Director Marina Brusnikina, Butler’s 2016 Christel DeHaan Visiting International Theatre Artist (VITA), will direct Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, the classic Russian play originally produced at the Moscow Art Theatre that ushered in the kind of contemporary, dynamic acting we value today. So iconic is this play in the world of theatre and to the development of western actor training that the Moscow Art Theatre took on the symbol of a seagull to be its identifying logo.

“This is a play about theatre,” Brusnikina said. “What is talent? Is it a gift or a curse? What is success? As theatre artists and students, these questions arise for us every day. This is not just an old story from a strange land; this is our story. Chekhov’s characters are closer to us than we may think. They live inside all of us. Our task as contemporary theatre artists is to find the connections between the story we tell and the audience to whom it is presented. Chekhov’s characters are deep and meaningful in any time and place. Their lives are no less complicated than our own.”

Butler’s VITA program brings world class theatre artists from all over the globe to direct a production with our students, teach classes on campus, and offer workshops to the community. Brusnikina, who is hailed as one of the world’s finest directors, is the Associate Artistic Director of the famed Moscow Art Theatre.

Lilly Hall 168
Students $5; Seniors $10; General/Adult: $15; Preview $5
November 30: 7:00 PM (preview)
December 1: 7:00 PM
December 2: 7:00 PM
December 3: 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM
December 4: 2:00 PM

Chamber Music is a 1962 one-act play by absurdist playwright Arthur Kopit. The story is set in 1938 and concerns eight famous women from different historical periods who all are interned in the same insane asylum.

The women are—or at least believe they are—author Gertrude Stein, martyr Joan of Arc, activist Susan B. Anthony, politician Queen Isabella I of Spain, Constanze Mozart (wife of the famed composer), pilot Amelia Earhart, silent-film actress Pearl White, and explorer Osa Johnson. They have come together to represent the women of the asylum in planning for an attack they believe is soon to come from the men’s ward. The doctor is an omnipresent figure in the asylum, checking in on the women.

In the context of the play, it is suggested that the woman who claims that she is Amelia Earhart could be telling the truth instead of being insane, given the time frame and that Earhart went missing.

“This play offers eight great female roles, historic figures (research opportunities for our students), and it’s also funny and savage,” Director William Fisher said.

Lilly Hall 168
Students $5; Seniors $10; General/Adult: $15; Student matinee $7 ($5 before December 9); Preview $5
February 15: 7:00 PM (preview)
February 16: 7:00 PM (preview)
February 17: 10:00 AM (student matinee) and 7:00 PM
February 18: 7:00 PM
February 19: 2:00 PM
February 23: 10 AM (student matinee)
February 24: 7:00 PM
February 25: 7:00 PM
February 26: 2:00 PM

This Tennessee Williams classic, which tells the story of young people coming of age, provides insight into family relationships with humor and lyricism. The characters are indelibly etched in the American theatre landscape—Tom, the poet son trapped at home; Laura, the fragile sister (based on Williams’ real-life sister); the handsome Gentleman Caller; and the domineering Southern mother who wants the best for her children.

“Tennessee Williams’ brilliant writing provides rich opportunities for actors to take their abilities to the next level,” Director Elaina Artemiev said. “It is important that our students work on one of America’s greatest plays, and for audiences to have the chance to see this classic play.”

Lilly Hall 168
Students $5; Seniors $10; General/Adult: $15; Preview $5
April 5: 7:00 PM (preview)
April 6: 7:00 PM (preview)
April 7: 7:00 PM
April 8: 7:00 PM
April 9: 2:00 PM
April 13: 7:00 PM
April 14: 7:00 PM
April 15: 2:00 PM

As part of Butler ArtsFest 2017, Butler Theatre presents Caryl Churchill’s newest play, a skeletally written script that demands that the director, actors, and designers make bold decisions to bring this complex and relevant contemporary script to life. The effect of technology on all of us is at the heart of this play.

“This is a highly unconventional play with specific structure to the writing but no conventional delineations besides seven sections, one extra random section of optional scenes, no set order, and not even character designations,” Director William Fisher said. “The question this play poses is: How do we love in an age dominated/overly saturated with information? The play is not preachy or judgmental, but it is a kind of puzzle.”