Theatre UAB is the performance company of the UAB College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Theatre. The department’s season includes five main-stage productions each academic year. All plays in the season are performed in UAB’s own Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.
Directed by Professor of Theatre Karla Koskinen, “Buried Child” is Shepard’s 1979 Pulitzer Prize-winning dissection of a Midwestern family. When Vince brings his girlfriend home to visit, she at first likens the farmhouse to a Norman Rockwell painting. Things change as she meets the ranting, violent inhabitants, and gradually a dark secret emerges. Shepard’s radical, macabre treatment of the inescapability of the familial bond ranks “Buried Child” with “The Glass Menagerie” and “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” as an evocative, haunting American masterpiece.
Theatre UAB will present “Buried Child” at 7:30 p.m. nightly Feb. 24-27, with a 2 p.m. matinee Feb. 28, in the Alys Stephens Center’s Sirote Theatre, 1200 10th Ave. South. Tickets are $12 and $15, student tickets are $6, and UAB employee and senior citizen tickets are $10. This play contains strong adult language and themes. Call 205-934-3236 or visit the department online at www.uab.edu/cas/theatre.
The mood of the play has a great deal of humor, but it’s the kind used as a survival mechanism, says Koskinen. The audience is like people who drive by a somewhat deserted farmhouse, and wonder what goes on inside. They are invited into the stark, uncomfortable world, abandoned by comfort, love and any sense of home.
Shepard uses symbols and opposites throughout the play: the decaying house and land magically come back to life; the American dream becomes a nightmare of despair; the prodigal son returns, but no one recognizes him. The farm was at one time thriving, producing milk and plentiful crops; but now it has dried up. When life does return, vegetables grow at the wrong time of the year. The rain that brings the crops also washes away the dirt and exposes the family’s long-buried secret.
The cast is Carla Smith of Birmingham as Halie; Antonio Mitchell of Phenix City as Tilden; Terrance Campbell of Leeds as Bradley; Dai’Sean Garrett of Childersburg as Vince; Gracie Brazeal of Birmingham as Shelly; Assistant Professor of Theatre Jack Cannon as Dodge; and Joseph Baude of Arab as Father Dewis. The crew is Lauren Edwards of Stockton, California, stage manager; Hannah Mueller of Chelsea and Aaron Duncan of Bessemer, assistant stage managers; and Bliss Bailey of Tuscaloosa, assistant director. Assistant Professor Marlene Johnson worked with the cast as vocal coach. Additional assistant director for the show is Gemma Peris of Bonrepós i Mirambell, València, Spain.