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Jan. 31, 2013

Theatre Dept. opens season with new play

By Kelsey Smith

The Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance will present the regional premiere of “In Red and Brown Water” this February as their opening performance of the season.

Written by Tarell Alvin McCraney in 2010, “In Red and Brown Water” is part of the Brother/Sister plays and focuses on many contemporary issues that relate to young adults, making Cleveland State an appropriate location for the regional premiere.

“In Red and Brown Water” tells the story of a talented runner living in present-day Louisiana who is forced to choose between taking care of her ill mother or pursuing her dreams.

The cast is made up entirely of Cleveland State students, a majority of whom are students in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Holly Holsinger, a professor in the theatre department, is directing the play.

Holsinger selected the play for its diverse roles and for the problems the play addresses. She also saw the opportunity for a full collaboration between the theatre and dance departments, which appealed to her.

“I chose this play because it features many roles for a diverse cast which serves our student body,” Holsinger said. “I saw the potential for this play to include dance and music, which led to partnerships with Lynn Deering [head of the dance program at Cleveland State] and Patrick Stoops [a senior composing student from the Music Department].”

In addition to the diverse roles, Holsinger liked that the story is told in an unusual way that helps bring each scene to life.

“The characters are all named after Yoruban deities, and speak their own stage directions as they embody the roles,” Holsinger explained. “Some students may recognize this as similar to the alienation techniques of Brecht.”

To prepare for the play’s regional premiere, the cast began working during winter break so they could dedicate long hours to perfecting their performances. With school in session they rehearse four hours a day, five days a week.

“It's a big commitment from the students, but there's also a big pay off as the quality of the production will reflect all of the hard work,” Holsinger said.

Cleveland State’s production of “In Red and Brown Water” will run from Feb. 7-17 on the Allen Theatre Second Stage at PlayhouseSquare. Tickets for the performance are $10 and can be purchased by calling 866-546-1353 or by visiting www.playhousesquare.org.