Theatre Arts’ ‘Tragedy’ Blends Serious With Silly

News satire and a look at modern American life are the cornerstones of “Tragedy: A Tragedy,” the second production of the Department of Theatre Art’s 2010-2011 season.

Written by Will Eno, this Off-Broadway hit is directed by senior lecturer Dr. Brandi Andrade, who directed “Overtones” in Theatrefest last year. Performances are Nov. 12-13 and 18-20 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 2:30 p.m. in the UT Arlington Mainstage Theatre.

The Department of Theatre Art's production of "Tragedy: A Tragedy" includes student performances by (clockwise, from left) Angela Horn, Greg Alan Cooke, Robbie Clark and Wesley Farnsworth. The play opens Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Mainstage Theatre. (Photo by Michelle Harvey)

“Tragedy” follows the zany antics of a television news production team dealing with serious events. Andrade said fans of popular fake news shows like “The Daily Show with John Stewart” or “The Colbert Report” will find the play’s format familiar.

“It’s a dark comedy, but a beautifully written play,” Andrade said. “We explore what I think the playwright is getting at: How do we handle the fear in our everyday lives? Sometimes we do the craziest things to avoid being afraid. This play is poignant and silly at the same time.”

The play features performances from students Alan Cooke, Robbie Clark, Angela Horn, Wesley Farnsworth, Meagan Brooks and Nyeti-Abasi Edet. Theatre Arts major Katy Austin serves as stage manager.

Andrade said one of her biggest challenges as a director was getting her actors to understand the weight of the dramatic setting the characters are placed in while letting student performances lighten up so the audience can enjoy the comedic elements.

“I remember the terrified stupor I had while watching the news when 9/11 hit,” said Andrade, who encouraged the cast to experience that same kind of emotion. “I pressed the actors to feel the importance of what they were doing.”

After having her actors watch old news footage of major national and world events, she then steered the cast to “lighten up” their performances in a way the audience could laugh but not disrupt the mood on stage.

“It’s been interesting and fun in figuring out how to do that,” she said. “It’s because these characters are taking things so seriously that we as the audience can continue to care.”

Andrade said another interesting element of “Tragedy” is its use of video and technology to complete the story. She said she, her set designer and her lighting designer worked to include various multimedia elements into the presentation. Despite the challenges, Andrade said the set design and videos add another level of engagement for the audience.

Ticket prices are $10 for general public, and $7 for senior citizens, students with ID, and UT Arlington faculty and staff.  For tickets/reservations, group rates, or further information, contact the Department of Theatre Arts Box Office at (817) 272-2669.

[Story by James Dunning, COLA Communications]

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