Shaking the Stage: Travesties
British wordsmith Tom Stoppard imagines Zurich in 1917, putting surrealist Tristan Tzara, novelist James Joyce, and revolutionary Vladimir Lenin in conversation with each other, the women they loved, and British civil servant Henry Carr. They ate cucumber sandwiches, argued about the nature of art, planned a production of The Importance of Being Earnest, and debated the merits of bloodless vs. bloody revolution. The production was directed by Laura Hackman, a terrifically innovative director with experience at the Lincoln Center Directors Lab and the Baltimore Shakespeare Festival, to include acrobatics, juggling, a syncopated duet, and a set fashioned from plexiglass. Chris Sheard (MFA Acting 2012) played Henry Carr in 1917 as well as 1974—Travesties is a memory play—offering student actors a welcome opportunity to interact with this veteran of Definitions Theatre Company, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, American Players Theatre, and Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City. The production participated in the yearlong campus initiative Ten Days that Shook the World/Shake the Campus: 1917/2017. Recognizing that performance is an integral part of writing and representing history, Associate Professor of Theatre Studies and Director of Graduate Studies Valleri Robinson led the collaboration.