Absolut theatre

By Jocelyn Grosse

In the twilight of the Cold War, a group
of Russians search for a new direction. They journey terrain
stretching across their motherland, from Moscow to the outskirts
Siberia. As they travel, they question whether it is better for
them to follow their heads or their hearts. This is Tony Kushner’s
Slavs!; Thinking About the Longstanding Problems of ffirtue and

"It’s about the disintegration of the socialist republic,"
says actor Joyce Doolittle, who plays Antidiluvanovidi Prelupsarinov.
"It’s about the search for virtue and happiness."

Combining both current University of Calgary students and graduates,
Sage Theatre’s Slavs! features performers including Doolittle,
U of C Department of Drama Head Dr. Brian Smith, and U of C students
Katie Sanders, David Friese and Emily Herman.

"This is the first season for Sage Theatre. It’s a wonderful
play; it has it’s mixture of new and old professionals,"
Doolittle adds.

Kushner’s Slavs! is his coda to the international phenomenon
of his plays in the two-part series Angels in America. The various
productions of Angels, including those by
Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects and Edmonton’s Quest Theatre,
all brought controversy, partly because of its homosexual theme.
Kushner draws from his Jewish roots, socialist beliefs and sexuality
in most of his works. Slavs! questions what might have happened
if the 1990 revolution in the Soviet Union didn’t take place,
and if the changes have really improved the lives of Russians.
The play consists of three acts and
an epilogue in 90 minutes (compared to the seven and a half hour
epic of the two part Angels) and takes the stance of how Russia
must change in order to move forward in the next century. The
characters include a ghost-like girl who resembles her country
and shattered dreams.

Kushner’s other works include A Bright Room Called Day and The
Illusion, to name a few.

"Tony Kushner is probably one of the best playwrights of
this generation,’" said actor David Friese, who plays Rodent.
"One of my professors once described Kushner as ‘the theatre
of the fabulous.’"

The internationally renowned playwright will be attending Slavs!
on opening night, a great honour for both the performers and
audience alike.

"[An] American wrote the play about Slavic people and it’s
being performed by Canadians; it gives the play an interesting
feel," said Director Rob Moffatt.

Sage Theatre and the University of Calgary’s presentation of
Tony Kushner’s Slavs! will be running from May 26-30 at the
Reeve theatre at the U of C, nightly at 8 p.m. and Sunday at
2 p.m.

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