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'Miss Julie' brings love, lust and class to CSU

Theater students to demonstrate their thespian skills in realism

By Kelsey Smith

April 18, 2013

The Cleveland State University Department of Theatre and Dance will be ending their season with “Miss Julie,” a play that deals with the themes of class, love, lust and interactions among the sexes.

“Miss Julie” is being directed by Scott Spence, adjunct professor in the department of theatre and dance. This will be the second play produced by Cleveland State under his direction.

“Miss Julie” was written in 1888 by August Strindberg. Strindberg and his European and Russian contemporaries are the fathers of realism. Prior to realism, acting was more about exaggerated movements and emphasized vocals. Becca Frick and Nate Miller in "Miss Julie"

“In some older ‘Saturday Night Live’ episodes, Jon Lovitz parodied this style with his character ‘Master Thespian’,” Spence said.

“Miss Julie,” however, deviates from this as it portrays real people as opposed to royalty.
“It’s about a servant who is using someone to potentially get out of servitude,” Spence said. “There are gender struggles too. We’re dealing not just with manipulation but true body heat. These characters really do find each other fascinating, but their journey together is difficult because of all the social restraints on them. A lot of tug of war goes on in a lot of different directions, which creates conflict, which is what theater is all about.”

The selection of the plays for a season is a process that begins in the Fall. Full-time and adjunct professors get together and many plays are suggested. The group compares the titles across a four-year template of style and begins narrowing the list down to four titles to be done in the following season.

“No one person generally has to make any final decisions about the selections, as the faculty has been pretty adept at coming to consensus,” Spence said.
Unlike most of the other plays put on by the theatre department, “Miss Julie” has a cast of three.

“The cast is really quite astonishing. There are only three characters so they must sustain the piece without the usual ‘ensemble’ of players,” Spence said. “The actors [Becca Frick, Nate Miller, Emma Clark] – all seniors I believe – bring a maturity to the piece well beyond their years.”

While Cleveland State theatre seasons are not picked with a consecutive theme in mind, “Miss Julie” does share a few similarities with “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which Cleveland State presented at the end of the Fall 2012 semester. Both plays stress differences among the classes and tension between the sexes.

“Miss Julie” runs from April 18-April 28 in PlayhouseSquare’s intimate Helen Rosenfeld Lab Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at www.playhousesquare.org.