Press release

UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance Announces 2013-2014 Season
(Updated 10.01.13)

The UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance 2013-14 season presents three productions directed by internationally renowned Granada Artists-in-Residence, three student showcases, one SOS (Shakespeare-On-a-Shoestring) class production as well as unticketed ITDP (Institute for Theatre, Dance and Performance) programs which open up the artistic process to the community. The new season also brings the 14th Annual UC Davis Film Festival –- a co-production with Cinema and Digital Media, Art Studio and the Department of Design.

In November, Granada Artist-in-Residence Stafford Arima directs “Spring Awakening,” the rock musical and winner of eight Tony Awards with book and lyrics by Steven Sater and music by Duncan Sheik. “Spring Awakening” is a provocative exploration of the journey from adolescence to adulthood based on the play by Frank Wedekind.  This bold and poignant story follows a group of teenage friends as they cope with the agonies and ecstasies of discovering their sexuality. The characters struggle to figure out who they are while dealing with difficult issues including abortion, homosexuality, rape, child abuse and suicide.

Director and Granada Artist-in-Residence Stafford Arima was nominated for an Olivier Award for his direction of the West End premiere of “Ragtime.” Other work includes: “The King & I” and “Miss Saigon” at Music Circus;   “Carrie,” nominated for an Outer Critics Award for Outstanding Revival of a Musical, and five Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Revival of a Musical, MCC Theater; “Allegiance,” nominated for six Craig Noel Awards including Outstanding Direction of a Musical, awarded Outstanding New Musical, The Old Globe; and “Altar Boyz,” Best Off-Broadway Musical Outer Critics Circle Award and seven Drama Desk Award nominations, New World Stages.

The creative team includes Department of Theatre and Dance faculty members known for their work on Broadway and the big screen: Scenic Designer John Iacovelli and Costume Designer Maggie Morgan.

“Spring Awakening” opens on Thursday, November 21, in Main Theatre, Wright Hall. The final performance is Saturday, December 7. This production is rated R for adult material including violence, sexuality, nudity and language.

The season’s second Granada Artist-in-Residence Miles Anderson directs an adaptation of Steinbeck’s epic novel  “The Grapes of Wrath.” The play focuses on tenant famers seeking jobs, dignity and a future during the Great Depression.

Anderson comments, “Leading all those people from Oklahoma all the way to where we practically are, here, now, in Davis — a farming community — was an immense and impressive human undertaking. I want the actors to sense that enormity and to infect the audience with emotion and inspiration. I too travelled across the world to California — the Golden State — to follow a dream, so I feel a great personal connection to what the Joad Family undertake.”

Miles Anderson has worked with directors including Richard Attenborough, Trevor Nunn and Sam Mendes. He recently completed his third season at the Old Globe Shakespeare Festival in San Diego with critical acclaim for his portrayals of Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” and Bottom in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” His King George in “The Madness of George III” garnered him the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Craig Noel Award. He has also received three British Theatre Awards. His Royal Shakespeare Company starring roles include “Macbeth,” “The Comedy of Errors” and “Life’s a Dream” with Olivier nomination for his portrayal of Sigismund. Directing credits include the OMTC/RSC Youth Shakespeare Festival at Stratford-upon-Avon and “Tilly No-Body: Catastrophes of Love” for Sideshow Physical Theatre at Mondavi Center.

“The Grapes of Wrath” will be produced in the manner of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Nicholas Nicholby”  with the cast singing and playing music. Award-winning faculty member Thomas J. Munn designs both set and lighting.

“The Grapes of Wrath” opens in Main Theatre, Wright Hall on Thursday, March 6 and continues through Sunday, March 16.

March also brings Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice.” Full of intrigue, love and courtroom drama, the play is centered on the much-maligned moneylender Shylock and the lawyer-in-disguise, Portia. This is the second SOS production for the Department of Theatre and Dance. Professor Bella Merlin will direct a cast of students from her Shakespeare and His Contemporaries class.

The SOS mission is to create immediate drama that stirs, delights and entertains through the Bard’s classic works. In the manner of Shakespeare’s “rough magic,” sets and costumes are at a minimum with maximum drama and audience engagement.

The March 13-16 performances of “The Merchant of Venice” are unticketed with seats available on a first-come, first-served basis at Wyatt Pavilion Theatre.

Spring quarter brings a unique campus-based ITDP piece by Deirdre Morris, graduating MFA candidate, titled “LAKE & The Death Star Migration.” LAKE (which stands for Land Acquired Knowledge Embodied) is a practice-as-research project exploring concepts of human-to-place relationships and embodied wilderness through multimedia, interdisciplinary performance.

Morris explains, “In LAKE, we aim to deepen our understanding of how humans belong in landscapes. In this era of intense human impact on ecosystems, we prioritize what the performing arts contribute to understanding the relationship of humans to place, both wilderness and human-built spaces.”

“LAKE & The Death Star Migration” is a travelling outdoor performance across the UC Davis campus and Arboretum. The piece employs shadow puppetry and live video projections on the Social Sciences and Humanities building (known as “Death Star”) of a herd of stilt-walking performers as they migrate across the campus. The stilt herd will be “performing” and interacting with anything or anyone they encounter along the way, allowing for an immersive experience by the audience/participants.

Morris, an interdisciplinary performing and visual artist, director, educator, activist and choreographer, believes that art is the means by which we transform our world. She has worked extensively in collaborative and solo theatrical formats, with a focus on site-specific performance utilizing ritual and Butoh influenced movement work, unique aerial apparatus, acrobatic stilts, video and shadow puppetry.

“LAKE & The Death Star Migration” is unticketed. Specific dates, times and location will be announced later.

Deirdre Morris’s talents will again be displayed along with five other graduating MFA candidates in MFA Interdisciplinary Thesis Projects. The two-part production includes four 20-minute solo performances by Morris, Lindsay Beamish, Mary Ann Brooks and Amanda Vitiello-Jensen and one 40-minute collaborative performance by Peet Cocke and Andrea Del Moral.

Mary Ann Brooks’ piece, “Improvising While Black: Chronicling a Black Aesthetic,” is an inquiry into racial representation, spontaneous movement creation and survival. Brooks says her piece explores many questions including “What is blackness in a world where most things black and/or African are reviled, demonized and erased while at the same time desired, coveted and appropriated?”

The working title of Vitiello-Jensen’s piece is “Travesty: Representations of Joan of Arc and Gypsy Rose Lee.” It examines and analyzes the depictions of the two iconic women while investigating the conflicting characteristics of “virgin” and “whore” they represent. The other thesis works have yet to be determined.

MFA Interdisciplinary Thesis Projects opens on Thursday, April 10 and closes on Sunday, April 13. Performances straddle two venues: Arena Theatre and Wyatt Pavilion Theatre.

The 14th Annual UC Davis Film Festival promises to be livelier than ever before. The interdepartmental event will once again feature compelling short films from a wide array of graduate and undergraduate students with red-carpet fanfare.

Produced by the Department of Theatre and Dance, Cinema and Digital Media, Art Studio and co-sponsored by the Department of Design, the festival plays at the Davis Varsity Theatre Wednesday-Thursday, May 21-22 at 10 p.m.. 

Dovetailing the film festival, Granada Artist-in-Residence Henry Daniel, accomplished choreographer and media artist, will premiere a new work from his Project Barca series. Project Barca deals with notions of exploration, discovery, loss and return across the Americas. Its theme of “Going West to find East/Going East to find West” is a trans-hemispheric concept that takes its inspiration from a 1492 historic voyage which continues to have implications for many today. Utilizing film, text, new media and software design, this work provokes questions regarding the nature of memory, identity and belonging in particular space/time locations. 

Henry Daniel is currently Professor of Dance and Performance Studies at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts. He was a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre Workshop, the Bernhard Ballet, and soloist with the José Limón Dance Company of New York, among others. In Germany he founded and directed Henry Daniel and Dancers while continuing to work as a member of TanzProject München, Tanztheater Freiburg, and Assistant Director, Choreographer, and Dancer for Tanztheater Münster. In the U.K. he founded and directed the performance group Full Performing Bodies, which he still maintains.

The Project Barca work plays Thursday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24 at a venue yet to be determined.

The final production of the season is Main Stage Dance. This annual event is comprised of new choreographies by undergraduate students under the artistic direction of Professor David Grenke.

Main Stage Dance opens on Thursday, May 29 and continues through Sunday, June 7 in Main Theatre, Wright Hall.

All programs and venues are subject to change with more ITDP productions certain to be added to the season calendar. For updated information, ticket details and photos, please visit

Tickets to all Department of Theatre and Dance season productions (excluding the 14th Annual UC Davis Film Festival, ITDP and SOS productions) may be purchased in advance at the Mondavi Center ticket office:, 530.754.2787 or 866.754.2787. They may also be purchased at the door for a slightly higher price (provided the show has not sold out).

An order of fifteen or more tickets for a single performance receives a 10 percent discount. Groups of 25 or more receive a 10 percent discount plus two free tickets. High school and youth groups of 10 or more receive a special rate of $5 per ticket ($10 for musicals) at the teacher or group leader’s request. Please contact the publicity director at 530.752.5863 or via email for these and other special rates.

UC Davis Department of Theatre & Dance 2013-2014 Season Calendar Listings

Spring Awakening
Book and Lyrics by Steven Sater; Music by Duncan Sheik
Based on the play by Frank Wedekind
Directed by UC Davis Granada Artist-in-Residence Stafford Arima
Choreographed by Chris McCoy
Main Theatre, Wright Hall, UC Davis
Thursday-Saturday, Nov. 21-23, 8 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 24, 2 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 5-7, 8 p.m.
General $18/22; Students & Seniors $16/20

The Grapes of Wrath
Written by John Steinbeck
Adapted by Frank Galati
Directed by Granada Artist-in-Residence Miles Anderson
Main Theatre, Wright Hall, UC Davis
Thursday-Saturday, March 6-8, 8 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, March 13-15, 8 p.m.
Sunday, March 9 & 16, 2 p.m.
General $17/19; Students, Children & Seniors $12/14

The Merchant of Venice
Written by William Shakespeare
Presented by UC Davis SOS (Shakespeare On-a-Shoestring)
Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, UC Davis
Thursday-Saturday, March 13-15, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 16, 2 p.m.
Unticketed, free-of-charge

ITDP: LAKE & The Death Star Migration
By Deirdre Morris
UC Davis cross-campus locations including Arboretum
Dates and times TBA
Unticketed, free-of-charge

MFA Interdisciplinary Thesis Projects: Exploratory Showcase/Performance
By Lindsay Beamish, Mary Ann Brooks, Peet Cocke, Andrea Del Moral, Deirdre Morris, Amanda Vitiello-Jensen
Program 1
Wyatt Pavilion Theatre
Thursday, April 10 and Saturday, April 12, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 13, 2 p.m.
Program 2
Arena Theatre, Wright Hall
Friday, April 11, 2 p.m.
Saturday, April 12, 8 p.m.
Sunday, April 13, 8 p.m.
General $15/17; Students, Children & Seniors $11/13

14th Annual UC Davis Film Festival
The Davis Varsity Theatre
616 Second Street in Davis
Wednesday-Thursday, May 21-22, 10 p.m.
Tickets available at Varsity box office starting May 14
$7 per night; $10 two-night pass

Project Barca 
By Granada Artist-in-Residence Henry Daniel
Thursday-Sunday, May 22-25
Location, times & tickets TBA

Main Stage Dance
Main Theatre, Wright Hall, UC Davis
Thursday-Saturday, May 29-31, 8 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, June 5-7, 8 p.m.
Sunday, June 1, 2 p.m.
General $17/19; Students, Children & Seniors $12/14

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Performance Studies

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