“The Lesson" at St. Ambrose University -- September 30 through October 2.

Thursday, September 30, through Saturday, October 2

St. Ambrose University Studio Theatre., Galvin Fine Arts Center, 2101 North Gaines Street, Davenport IA

A darkly funny, disturbing, and iconic one-act by the absurdist legend Eugène Ionesco, The Lesson kicks off St. Ambrose University's 2021-22 theatre season in the Galvin Fine Arts Center's Studio Theatre, the show's September 30 through October 2 run sure to demonstrate why Stage-Door raved, “The Lesson may be the greatest of Ionesco's plays.”

In Ionesco's comedic drama, a lively female Pupil arrives at the study of a learned Professor. The youth is trying to earn an educational certificate called the “total doctorate,” and she needs to master both mathematics and philology (the study of the history of languages) in order to do so. The Professor’s Maid urges him to remain calm as the lesson progresses from addition to subtraction to multiplication to Spanish pronunciation, and all the while, the initially timid and polite Professor grows more forceful, domineering, and lascivious as the power of his lectures renders his Pupil helpless, and horrifyingly at his mercy. A scathing commentary on totalitarianism, indoctrination, and the power of propaganda to suffocate and enslave, The Lesson is considered to be one of the foundational texts of the Theatre of the Absurd. This well-loved play has also been translated into dozens of languages, and its message is no less relevant today than when it was first performed in the aftermath of World War II.

Directing The Lesson for his alma mater is 2020 graduate TJ Green, who previous helmed 2019's Speech & Debate for St. Ambrose, and whose numerous area-theatre credits include roles in Monty Python's Spamalot for Quad City Music Guild, Matilda: The Musical for the Spotlight Theatre, and Avenue Q for the Playcrafters Barn Theatre. Green's three-person cast for The Lesson boasts St. Ambrose's David Weaver as The Professor, Niki Dewitt as The Pupil, and Quinnie Rodman as The Maid. And featured among the play's creative team are set designer Becky Meissen, costume designer K Hampton, stage manager Elena Vallejo, assistant director and props manager Peyton Reese, lighting designer Courtney Cook, and sound designer Calvin Vo.

The Lesson will be staged September 30 through October 2 in the Studio Theatre of St. Ambrose University's Galvin Fine Arts Center, with performances Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. Admission is $5.75, and for more information and tickets, call (563)333-6251 and visit SAU.edu/theatre.

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