Vincent J. Cardinal – Artistic Director

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!

– Emily Dickinson

There is a point in life when each of us must give up the luxury of being “nobody,” if only for a moment, to become “somebody”  — no matter how dreary, exciting or frightening. These self-defining moments – some comic and some tragic — are the subject of the plays we are offering in the 2014-15 season.

The 2014-15 season begins with a fascinating new play, Olives and Blood, by UConn Professor Michael Bradford. It investigates Spain’s search for national identity following the Spanish Civil War through one man, Juan Luis Trescante Medina. Now, late in life, he faces a trial by memory for a 60-year-old killing, an event whose truth may define him as a champion or silence him as a coward.  Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor, Gary English, directs this informative and compelling play by one of our own.

Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9 is a wild, erotic, gender-bending story that crosses oceans and centuries as Betty journeys to embrace her identity while managing her off-kilter family. It’s a hilarious, obscene romp populated with unforgettable characters, situational foolishness, and sight gags that leave room for a bittersweet conclusion of love and acceptance. I will be directing this shaggy dog of a play, one whose bark says as much about our sexual circus as the bite of its delicious humor.

The laughter will continue with the Tony Award winning musical The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, a joyously embellished tale of the public school system in a head-on collision with brainy puberty and self-discovery through the amped up competition of a spelling bee.    I am thrilled to welcome back the talented team of director Paul Mullins (I’m Connecticut, Much Ado About Nothing) and choreographer Gerry McIntyre (Legally Blonde and the 2013 CT Critics Circle Award winner for Best Choreography for Hairspray) to deliver this clever, heartwarming musical that promises to bring hearty laughter to the holiday season.

Aristophanes’ ribald comedy Lysistrata will invade our stage to warm our evenings with hilarity during the cold winter nights.  First performed during the winter of 411 B.C., twenty years into the Peloponnesian War, this comedy called the people of Greece to courage and peace in the face of tragedy. The play’s heroine Lysistrata rallies the women of Greece to discover their power to end the war with great comic consequences and startlingly current commentary.

As the weather warms, the world premiere of Band of the Black Hand comes to the stage guided by the deft hands of Split Knuckle Theatre’s Artistic Director Greg Webster and Puppet Arts Professor Bart. P. Roccoberton.  This noir style journey of one man’s search for justice will combine theatrical styles to create a sensual, dark and mysterious world. The production will be featured in the summer of 2015 at the National Conference of the Puppeteers of America.

We will close our season with Associate Artistic Director Dale AJ Rose’s staging of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  This magical comedy, set in Victorian times, ends our yearlong search for self, as we follow four young lovers into the fairy forest to discover their hearts’ true desires. Midsummer — which, after all, concerns the production of a play to bless a new marriage — is an apt choice for closing a season where we are welcoming our new MFA graduate actors as they begin their three-year journey to realize themselves as artists in partnership with Connecticut Repertory Theatre.

I look forward to embarking on this season with them and you. I hope we all discover something new about becoming “somebody” — if only for a moment.

Vincent J. Cardinal
Artistic Director
Head, Dept. of Dramatic Arts