Friday, October 13, through Sunday, October 22
Augustana College's Brunner Theatre Center, 3750 Seventh Avenue, Rock Island IL
Produced in its first area staging since 1990, playwright Jean Giradoux's legendary The Madwoman of Chaillot will open Augustana's 2017-18 mainstage season on October 13, with director Jeff Coussens' elaborate production of the French comic fable boasting no less than 28 student actors.
Its 1948 American debut hailed by the New York Drama Critics' Circle as “pure gold, with no base metal” and a work that delivers “an enveloping and irresistible humor,” Giradoux's poetic satire is set in the Chaillot district of Paris, where Countess Aurelia – the harmless “madwoman” of the title – sees the world as endlessly happy and beautiful. Until, that is, she learns about the plans of a few corrupt executives to ruin Paris by drilling for oil. Aurelia consequently enlists the help of fellow outcasts in her fight, leading to a confrontation that, according to director Coussens, “illustrates the struggle between the haves and the have-nots – something we see reflected in the sociopolitical climate in which we find ourselves today.”
M.J. Mason portrays Countess Aurelia, Keenan Odenkirk plays her closest ally The Ragpicker, and 26 current Augustana students fill out the ensemble: Austin Allbert, Naomi Beckley, Haley Clebanoff, Shyann Devoss, Griffin Gletty, Katie Griswold, Jack Harris, Claire Hartman, Bradley Heinrichs, Jess Holzknecht, Spencer Kane, Katie Kleve, Jonathan Meir, Tom Memmott, Emily Minarik, Madison Mortenson, Zach Myatt, Tristan Odenkirk, Jake Pecaut, Autumn Peele, Jonathan Quigley, Sam Ramont, Shannon Rees, Brandon Smith, James Wheeler, and Jaryd Whitmore.
“As a department,” says Coussens, “we strive to expose students to different styles, genres, and time periods. [And] as a growing department, we also wanted to find a way to showcase the depth of talent here at Augustana. With a total cast of 28 and a large backstage crew working on sets, costumes, and lighting, this is one of the largest productions we have put onstage in the recent past.”
The Madwoman of Chaillot runs Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m., tickets are $9-11, and more information and reservations are available by calling (309)794-7306 or visiting Augustana.edu.