The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Theatre has been invited to perform its production of Charles Mee’s “Big Love” as a select participating production, the highest level of competition, at the Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, to be held Feb. 4-8, at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va.
Theatre UAB’s production was one of approximately 180 entered from across the festival’s 10-state Region IV, which includes Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and southern Virginia. According to Region IV Chairman Jeffrey Green, those selected represent the highest standards of production values and innovative interpretations of texts.
“‘Big Love’ is one of only four featured, evening, main-stage productions Green wrote in the invitation. “We have chosen your production for our festival opening performances and would like you to perform on both Wednesday and Thursday evenings of the festival, the most heavily attended days. You are proudly carrying on the tradition of excellence Theatre UAB has come to be known for.”
“Big Love” is a remaking of Aeschylus’ “The Supplicants,” a radical reconstruction of one of the Western world’s oldest plays and a wild tale of 50 brides escaping arranged marriages to 50 grooms. When three of the brides entreat the owner of an Italian villa for help, they are blocked by their intended grooms, and a darkly comedic fracas ensues.
The production is a unique collaboration between faculty and students. Faculty members Dennis McLernon and Marlene Johnson joined seven student actors in the ensemble. Student Rebecca Harper of Valley Head, Ala., co-directed the production with director Karla Koskinen. UAB Department of Music major Kevin Peek of Birmingham assembled the play’s musical score. Guest artist Jones Welsh of Diavolo Dance Company worked with the cast on movement during a weeklong residency.
The student cast includes Russell Alexander of Montgomery, Ala., as Giuliano; Kyle Hulcher of Fort Worth, Texas, as Nikos; Alora King of Boonsboro, Md., as Lydia; Renita Lewis of Birmingham, Ala., as Thyona; Calvin Nielsen of Budapest, Hungary, as Constantine; Julia Spring of Alabaster, Ala., as Olympia; and Ellis Oswalt of Anniston, Ala., as Oed. Samantha Helms of Corner, Ala., is stage manager; Markeitra Gilliam of New Orleans, La., is assistant director; Lauren Edwards of Chelsea, Ala., and Vickie Morales of Priceville, Ala., are assistant stage managers; Lauren Seale of Greenville, Ala., is assistant costume designer; and Andrew Taylor of Suwanee, Ga., is assistant set designer.