Wesleyan University Theater Department presents "Peony Pavilion" April 25-27

Wesleyan University Theater Department presents "Peony Pavilion" April 25-27

Wesleyan University’s Theater Department presents
Tang Xianzu's "Peony Pavilion"
Directed by Jeffrey Sichel
Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27
Middletown, Conn. - Wesleyan University’s Theater Department presents Tang Xianzu's "Peony Pavilion," directed by Jeffrey Sichel, from Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 8pm in the CFA Theater, located at 271 Washington Terrace on the Wesleyan campus in Middletown. There will also be a 2pm matinee performance on Saturday, April 27.
Tickets for "Peony Pavilion" are $8 for the general public; $5 for senior citizens, Wesleyan faculty/staff, and non-Wesleyan students; and $4 for Wesleyan students. Tickets are available online at http://www.wesleyan.edu/boxoffice, by phone at (860) 685-3355, or in person at the Wesleyan University Box Office, located in the Usdan University Center, 45 Wyllys Avenue, Middletown. Tickets may also be purchased at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance, subject to availability. The Center for the Arts accepts cash, checks written to “Wesleyan University”, and all major credit cards. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (860) 685-3355 for details. No refunds, cancellations, or exchanges.
About the Production
The Wesleyan Theater Department production is an original, all-female, English-language adaptation of the 400 year old Chinese play "Peony Pavilion," conceived and directed by Jeffrey Sichel with choreography by Wu “Amanda” Wencong, both from the Shanghai Theatre Academy; in collaboration with Professor of Theater John Carr (Lighting Design), Adjunct Associate Professor of Theater Marcela Oteíza (Scenic Design), and Artist in Residence Leslie Weinberg (Costume Design); and Wesleyan students Alma Sanchez-Eppler ’14 (Adaptation) and Gabriel Kastelle, Graduate Student in Experimental Composition (Composer).
The innovative interpretation of the classic work pares down the original 20 hour long, multi-plotted, proto-feminist text into a succinct (90-minute), beautiful story of one woman’s journey toward personal agency and love.Instead of employing the techniques of the classic "kunqu" Chinese opera style (the style in which "Peony Pavilion" is typically staged), an ensemble cast of six women break with tradition by marrying choreographic elements of "yue" opera (a Chinese all-women form originally intended for an all-female audience), with contemporary American performance practices, and original music that pulls from both Eastern and Western traditions.
About "Peony Pavilion"
"Peony Pavilion," written in 1598 by Tang Xianzu, is a seminal play of the Ming Dynasty, and has been an important work in the canon of Chinese dramatic literature ever since. Until 1998, there was no concrete record of all 55 scenes ever having been staged sequentially in one venue. Most Chinese opera troupes keep several selected scenes from this classic love story in their active repertoire.
About the Director and Designers
Jeffrey Sichel (Director) is a specialist in Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Performance Practice and Theory. He holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Columbia University, and is working towards his Doctorate in Performance Studies from The Shanghai Theatre Academy. Past academic appointments in the United States include Head of The Bard College Theatre Program in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; and Head of The M.F.A. and Undergraduate Directing Programs at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.  He has a 25 year history of directing theater and opera in the United States and abroad. Recent productions in China include "North Bank, Suzhou Creek," a multi-lingual music theater work about the Jewish Community of Shanghai during the Japanese Occupation of WWII, premiered at The Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum; as well as Mandarin language productions of Tennessee Williams’ "Glass Menagerie" at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, and Eugene O’Neil’s "Marco Millions" for The Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou. His intercultural production of "The Beauty Trap" (original Beijing Opera section of The Confucius Disciples Series) was the sole selected United States performance for The Congress of The International Theatre Institute in Xiamen, China in 2011. A revival of his 2003 production "Gods and The Good Woman," a Chinese-American intercultural adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s "Der gute Mensch von Sezuan," is currently underway at Folkwang University of The Arts in Essen, Germany. Mr. Sichel holds faculty appointments as a Visiting Professor at the Foundation for Liberal and Management Education School of Performing Arts in Pune, India; and as a Guest Artist at The National School of Drama in New Delhi, India, where recent productions have included the first Hindi language version of Tennessee Williams’ "Camino Real," Anton Chekhov’s "The Cherry Orchard," and Eugene Ionesco’s "The Bald Soprano." Mr. Sichel is the Establishing Coordinator of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization/International Theatre Institute Network for Higher Education in the Performing Arts, a global service organization under the University Twinning and Networking Programme based in Paris, Shanghai and Washington.  

Wu “Amanda” Wencong (Choreographer) is from the Shanghai Theatre Academy in China, where she is a teacher and frequent collaborator with director Jeffrey Sichel, most recently on "The Beauty Trap" in Xiamen for The Congress of The International Theatre Institute.  She is currently in the United States visiting various universities to learn about performance traditions in Western cultures. The Wesleyan community is grateful for the time she was able to spend in residence both learning from and sharing her skills with students.
John Carr (Lighting Designer) is the Chair of the Theater Department, and Lighting Designer for Theater and Dance at Wesleyan University. He has designed dance lighting for Hari Krishnan/inDANCE, Richard Bull, Dances for 2, Douglas Dunn, Susan Foster, Deborah Hay, and almost all faculty dance concerts and faculty theater productions at Wesleyan since 1984, as well as productions at other American universities including Connecticut College, Manhattanville College, and Fairfield University. Professional theater projects include lighting for the Folger Theatre, Hartford Stage Company, National Players, the Shubert Theater, Theater for the New City, and "Skin, Meat, Bone" by Robert Wilson and Alvin Lucier. He is also a scenic designer; his most recent project being Wesleyan’s production of "Eurydice" directed by Associate Professor of Theater Yuri Kordonsky. His international projects include the lighting for "Death and the Maiden" at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich, United Kingdom; "Bury Me Under the Baseboard" at the Bulandra Theatre in Bucharest, Romania; and "Crime and Punishment" at the Bulandra and at the Volkhonka Theater, Yekaterinburg, Russia.

Marcela Oteíza (Scenic Designer) is an interdisciplinary artist working in the performing and visual arts. Ms. Oteíza specializes in collaborative and non-text-based work, and has collaborated extensively on numerous projects in the United States and abroad. At present, Ms. Oteíza is working on a video-documentary about street performances that occur during the Santiago a Mil Festival (2012-13). Ms. Oteíza holds an M.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts with a specialization in Design for the Theater. Ms. Oteíza is Adjunct Associate Professor of Theater Design and Designer in Residence at Wesleyan University

Leslie Weinberg (Costume Designer) has designed costumes, puppets, and scenic projections for dance and theater in the New England and New York region for over 35 years. She is the Co-Artistic Director with Robert Bresnick of Puppetsweat Theater. Puppetsweat has performed in New York City at Carnegie Hall, Galapagos Art Center in Brooklyn, the Miller Theater of Columbia University, P.S. 122, Theater for The New City, LaMAMA, Dia Arts, the Manhattan School of Music, and as part of The Jim Henson International Puppet Festival and The Great Small Works Toy Theater Festival. Additionally, their work has been seen at venues throughout the United States including the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Teatro del Campesino in San Juan Bautista, California; and internationally in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Korea, Australia, and Canada. In Connecticut their work has been seen at Yale University Art Gallery, the Yale University Center for British Art, the Yale School of Music, Trinity College, Fairfield University, Wesleyan University, the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, and the University of Hartford. Ms. Weinberg has worked with, among others, Ronnie Davis, Peter Schumann, Robert Wilson, Martin Bresnick, Judy Dworin, Jennifer Miller and Annabelle Gamson. Leslie Weinberg and Robert Bresnick are former Artistic Directors of Protean Theater of Hartford, Connecticut. Ms. Weinberg is Theater Artist in Residence at Wesleyan University.
Alma Sanchez-Eppler ‘14 (Adapter) is a junior Theater major and Writing Certificate candidate, concentrating in Playwriting. During her three years at Wesleyan, she has authored four plays and has performed in two Theater Department productions, as well as various Second Stage productions. In the spring of her sophomore year, she also directed her play "Junk Redemption" through Second Stage. Alma is grateful for this opportunity to adapt an ancient Chinese text from a 20 hour script into a version suited for the Wesleyan stage.

Gabriel Kastelle (Music Director, Composition, Arranging, "Zhonghu" in Performances) was born in Alaska, raised in Oregon and Washington states, and claims kinship with the peregrinating cultures of the Pacific Rim.  He currently is pursuing an M.A. in Experimental Music/Composition offered by Wesleyan's Music Department. He has been trained and working for over 30 years in violin, viola, and "erhu" performance and more throughout the country, most recently adding "zhonghu" to his instrumental strengths. He is the creator and, for three and a half years, community donor of Bonsai Concerts in New London, Connecticut in his violin training gymnasium. He has performed music theater under the direction of Julie Andrews for stage and in several cast recordings with the Media Theater of Pennsylvania, and locally at the Ivoryton Playhouse and in two new show developments with Goodspeed Musical's Norma Terris Theatre, as well as in a host of freelance and high school productions. Gabriel is an avid singer and tunesmith in the roots American shape note singing tradition, co-founding in 1999 in eastern Pennsylvania the annual Keystone Convention of Sacred Harp Singing. Gabriel and his vocal music and research are known and published and sung around the United States. Credits in sound design for theater include productions by the Writer's Block, Ink New London youth summer programs; and "The King," featuring John Basinger, directed by James Stidfole and Hygienic Theaterwerks at the Eugene O'Neill Theater in 2011, and several other venues. Deep improvising history includes multiple series of silent film accompaniments with colleague George Cork Maul in the Vail-Leavitt Theater of Riverhead, and the Huntington Cinema Arts Center in Long Island, New York; and other multi-media events with Maul's Hidden City Orchestra. Gabriel is hugely grateful for and humbled by the team of people and talents working on "Peony Pavilion."

About the Theater Department
The Theater Department embraces a broad definition of theater, and considers the critical and creative study of the stage to be essential components of a liberal arts education. Courses and productions reflect the interdisciplinary interests of faculty and majors. The department's diverse faculty conducts research and creative endeavors in every continent. Recent Visiting Artists include Pulitzer Prize winner Quiara Alegria Hudes, Doris Duke Performing Artist Award winner Rinde Eckert, and Obie award recipient Leah Gardiner. English Professor and pioneer American designer Ralph Pendleton created Wesleyan's Theater program in the mid 1930s. Mr. Pendleton served as the department's first chair until his retirement in 1974 and was an important contributor to the opening of the Center for the Arts.
Wesleyan's Theater Department alumni are notably active in the professional world: they appear on international and national stages, on and off Broadway, and many are the recipients of prestigious awards: Bessie Award designers Chloe Brown and Roderick Murray, Emmy Award recipients Dana Delany and Bradley Whitford, and Tony Award winners Frank Wood and Lin-Manuel Miranda are a few examples. Several have joined renowned American companies, while others are the founding members of cutting-edge collaborative ensembles, acclaimed solo performers, and community activists.
For more information about the Theater Department, please visit http://www.wesleyan.edu/theater.