School of Theatre and Film launches Alumni Project series with world premiere

The inaugural installment of the ASU School of Theatre and Film’s Alumni Project Series is a noir musical thriller replete with a live radio show, gangsters and a mysterious lady in red.

"The Tenement," written by ASU School of Theatre and Film alumni Jonothon Lyons and Matthew Keuter, and directed by Keuter, opens Feb. 22 at the Lyceum Theatre on the ASU Tempe campus and continues through March 3.

An extravaganza of masks, movement, media and magic, "The Tenement" is the first in the ASU School of Theatre and Film’s Alumni Project Series that invites outstanding graduates to return to create new work in collaboration with the school’s current students.

“The Alumni Project series has three important goals: to build relationships between successful alumni and current students, to help support the rising careers of our alumni in relatively early stages of their professional trajectory, and, perhaps most importantly, to bring truly cutting-edge theater made by Sun Devils back to the Valley of the Sun,” said Jake Pinholster, director of the ASU School of Theatre and Film and artistic director of its MainStage Season.

"The Tenement" is set in a large Metropolitan city in the mid-20th century. It follows Buddy, a rat in a derelict tenement building, who becomes conscious when he devours the mind of a man. Buddy stands up on two legs and quickly discovers what it means to be a man, to get a job, to be held accountable, to plot and fail, to have your first stiff drink, to fall in love – in other words, to be human.

Performed against a largely projected backdrop, the show explores the meeting points of theater and film, utilizing cinematic storytelling techniques and musical song and dance numbers to create a provocative theater experience.

"The Tenement" was first conceived by theater artist Jonothon Lyons and projection designer Daniel Brodie, both alumni of the ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. It premiered as a 10-minute mask-theater work at CAVE Art Space in Brooklyn, N.Y., and subsequently moved to the HERE Arts Center in Manhattan, where it was recognized by New York Innovative Theatre Awards.

Keuter, who earned his bachelor's degree in theater with a concentration in acting in 2004, was brought on to help shape the play and direct its premiere at ASU.

“It has been an amazing experience to come back to ASU in a professional capacity and collaborate with artists who had been my mentors,” Keuter said. “The faculty here have taught me professionalism and dedication to the theater arts, and these have served me well in the years since I left Tempe.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to have 'The Tenement' as our inaugural Alumni Project,” Pinholster said. “Our alumni are doing astounding work: Jonothon [Lyons] is currently in 'Sleep No More' in New York City, Daniel [Brodie] is designing 'Motown' on Broadway, and Matthew [Keuter] is coming off the New York debut of his play 'Bridgeboy.'”

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Feb. 22-23; 2 p.m., Feb. 24; and 7:30 p.m., Feb. 28-March 2 in the Lyceum Theatre, located at 901 S. Forest Mall, ASU Tempe campus.

For parking information, visit Tickets are $8-$16 with seniors, ASU faculty, staff and students receiving special rates. Herberger Institute students attend for free but must reserve tickets in advance. Special discounts for groups available. The show contains mature content and is not recommended for younger audiences.

For more information, contact the Herberger Institute box office, 480-965-6447 and the ASU School of Theatre and Film, 480-965-5337, and visit the ASU School of Theatre and Film online.