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From climate change to comedy: 2023–24 ASU Theatre season brings range of styles to the stage


Collage of posters for upcoming theater shows at ASU.

“The four plays seek to promote a balance of theatrical approaches,” said Guillermo Reyes, artistic director of theater in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre.

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September 11, 2023

The 2023–24 theater season at Arizona State University includes four fully staged productions with a broad variety of content and structure — from a physical theater piece focused on climate change to a laugh-out-loud farcical comedy. The season highlights the range of talent within the theater program in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre, and offers something for every audience member. 

“The four plays seek to promote a balance of theatrical approaches,” said Guillermo Reyes, artistic director of theater in the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “Tragedy, comedy, existential threats to the environment, and the heart and soul of America in the '60s, which reverberates today — they will highlight our upcoming season.”

The season opens Sept. 22 with “Iphigenia, King’s Child,” an adaptation by Pauline Mol of the classic Greek tragedy. It centers the story on the perspective of Iphigenia as the king debates a terrible contingency plan to ensure favorable winds on their way to battle.

“It’s a poetic piece about youth agency and the responsibility of the child to the nation and the nation to youth,” said Kristin Hunt, assistant director of theater, associate professor and director of the play. “It has a lot of humor and a lot of emotional texture.” 

The play examines the ways children negotiate the burdens placed upon them and explores a child's right to joy, knowledge and justice. Because it is a child-friendly show, families are invited to enjoy this play together with a special family matinee showing at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23. 

The next play of the season addresses social justice, climate crisis, sustainability and humankind’s role in creating a hopeful future. “Anthropocene” is a newly devised work of high-impact, physical theater performance that examines how human progress has led to a new and dangerous geological age. This play developed from a multiyear transdisciplinary performance research project and fuses innovative aesthetics, sustainable production processes and evocative storytelling with an award-winning creative team, including Rachel Bowditch, professor of theater, and Karen Jean Martinson, assistant professor of dramaturgy. 

“Anthropocene is the geological age in which man has affected the world,” said Bowditch. “This is a story about acceleration of consumption, about how things have spun dangerously out of control.”

In spring, the season continues with the comedy romp “Clue.” Based on the famous board game, this production provides an opportunity for ASU students and audiences to laugh and have fun. The show will be directed by Clay Sanderson, a third-year student in the theater for performance of the Americas PhD program. He’s also the drama teacher at Tempe Preparatory Academy. He said he’s looking forward to bringing some levity to the season and helping the students flex their comedy skills. 

“Some of the shows at ASU are pretty heavy,” Sanderson said. “A lot of times when we are trying to create meaningful work, we forget to have fun.”

The theater season closes with “Detroit ‘67,” directed by third-year MFA student Crestcencia Ortiz-Barnett. Ortiz-Barnett specializes in Black theater research and founded the Black Theatre Organization at ASU. “Detroit ‘67” is a historically significant play by contemporary playwright Dominique Morisseau that takes audiences into the intense Vietnam/Civil Rights Movement-era of Detroit in 1967. It shares the story of two siblings as they navigate family and political conflict, all set to the music of Motown.

“I'm really excited to direct this play,” Ortiz-Barnett said. “I’m from Detroit, and I love to do plays that touch on history, that are going to teach you something. This play takes place in 1967 around the race riots and shows this family who have this American dream and have these opportunities and just want to be recognized as humans — but there are certain things that block them from advancing in the world.”

“Not only does it give opportunities for our students to feel seen and heard and have an opportunity to do something like this, but it also starts conversations. A lot of students of color in theater are just wanting to be able to tell a story, and there's great material in this play to be able to do a lot of great storytelling.”

Audiences must purchase their tickets online through the Herberger Institute Box Office. Tickets go on sale three weeks prior to opening night. 

This season features student matinee performances of each show that are open to high school theater programs. Schools interested in attending these matinee performances should contact Zoe Tyler

2023–24 ASU Theatre season:

"Iphigenia, King’s Child"
Lyceum Theatre
2 p.m., Sept. 23, Oct. 1
7:30 p.m., Sept. 22, 28–30
By Pauline Mol
Directed by Kristin Hunt

"Anthropocene"
Galvin Playhouse Theatre
2 p.m., Nov. 5, 12
7:30 p.m., Nov. 3–4, 8–9, 11
Directed by Rachel Bowditch 

"Clue"
Galvin Playhouse Theatre
2 p.m., Feb. 18, 25
7:30 p.m., Feb. 16–17, 23–24
By Sandy Rustin
Directed by Clay Sanderson

"Detroit ‘67"
Lyceum Theatre
2 p.m., April 7, 14
7:30 p.m., April 5–6, 12–13
By Dominique Morisseau
Directed by Crestcencia Ortiz-Barnett

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