Theatre Arts and Dance Department

Guest Artists at the Hendrix Theatre Department

Murphy Guest Director  
2018
Ashlie Atkinson 

The Hendrix Players and Hendrix College Department of Theatre Arts and Dance present Wet, or Isabella the Pirate Queen Enters the Horse Latitudes, by Lizzy Duffy Adams  
Performances are Wednesday, Feb. 21 — Friday, Feb. 23, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m.  

The production is free and open to the public, but reservations are recommended. For reservations, visit www.hendrix.edu/theatrearts or call 501-450-1343. 

The Visiting Theatre Director program is sponsored by the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language, which are designed to enhance and enrich the study and teaching of literature and language at Hendrix College.

~~~~~~~~~~~Below is an Interview with Ashlie about the play~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


 

Interview with Ashlie Atkinson


Q: In your own words, what is this play about? 

This play is about pirates, and sailors, and the sea, and love, and death, and hope, and faith, and freedom. But love, most of all. Love in all its confusing and wondrous expressions. 



Q: What drew you to this play and where did you first come across it?

I was presented with an ideal set of limitations — and I should add, I asked for them. Dr. Rosemary Henenberg taught us when I was a student at Hendrix that your limitations are what frees you. It’s this idea of play, and theatricality, that a stick can be a hobbyhorse if you create the right space for it, theatrically. So I wanted a show with 7 characters or less, I wanted very few scene changes, I wanted it to be an ensemble piece, I wanted powerful female characters, and I personally wanted something with queer themes that played with the gender binary. So I went to my friend Emily Morse at New Dramatists, a great organization in New York that supports the playwright and play development, and I asked Emily for plays that had these limitations. They gave me a stack of 20 or so plays, and none of them quite hit the spot. So I asked for more, and the first one off the top of the new stack was WET. And it ticked all my boxes, plus pirates! And verse! And drag! I was sold by page 12.
 

Q: What is the main message or theme of this play (to you)? 

The main message is, to me, that we can THINK we know who we are, and what we are or aren’t capable of, and we tend to build legends and stories out of our pasts and think that’s the sum of us. But when love calls, the truly brave drop those assumptions, answer the call and take the journey. 

 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the playwright? 

I have never met Liz Duffy Adams, but her writing hits me in a place beyond conscious reasoning. It’s like a great song or a painting or a dance piece... it brings up these really deep feelings that defy easy description. A lot of this play is in verse, and her verse writing is not just beautiful words, it’s evocative and moving and gives us insight not just into the characters but into ourselves. And the cherry on top is that she’s very, very funny! 

 

Q: What have been some of the challenges in directing this play?

The thrust stage is a new challenge for me. I of course worked on it as a student but that was like two hundred years ago and I haven’t worked on one since. And this show requires a lot of trust between the actors and the director, as well as with the technical crew and the production staff — there’s a lot of swords and some violence and some climbing and a lot of physical stuff that these actors haven’t done before, and safety is of course our utmost priority. But ultimately the actor has to not just BE safe, but FEEL safe, in order to do these things onstage. But honestly, what requires the greatest trust is that each actor bares something of his or her self in this journey to love and self-actualization. They each have moments of deep vulnerability, which is something I thought would be much harder to access. It really speaks to the courage of these actors, how ready they are to go there. 

 
Q: What are your favorite elements of the play? 

This play lives and dies by its building of relationships. Friends fight, people are betrayed, unexpressed feelings are finally expressed, people fall for each other but don’t trust each other... watching the characters risk everything for love and freedom, the level of BELIEF they come to have in love and freedom, it’s breathtaking. That said, there’s also some great comedic moments and a fair bit of spectacle, but I don’t want to spoil any of the surprises.

 

Q: Who should come see this play? 

There are certainly some adult themes in this play, a little violence, some light cursing, a handful of kisses, several heaping handfuls of innuendo, and as I mentioned, it’s super gay. But I think most folks could have a good time, and anyone teenaged or older who has an open mind and is okay with portrayals of same-sex relationships will have a good time. But honestly, if they’re on the fence after hearing that, they should come anyway. Maybe we can all take the journey together, learn something together. 




 Past Visiting Artists

The Hendrix Theatre Department has an extensive history of bringing guest artists to collaborate with the students and faculty through directing, performing, playwriting or design.  The artists who have been at Hendrix in the past twenty-five years are listed below.  You will notice two Pulitzer Prize winning playwrights, several Obie winning artists, as well as a long list of artists recognized for excellence their field.  Primarily, the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation for Language and Literature has generously sponsored the visits of these artists:


Playwright Lee Blessing with the World Premiere Cast and Crew of his play The Hourglass Project, now published by Dramatics. 

 Tony Horne * m

 Melora Kordos * m

 Freddie Ashley ~ m
 Ken Albers * m
 Meade Andrews ~ m
 Eric Bentley + m

 Lee Blessing + m
 Barbara Bosch * m
 
 Kirk Boyd * m 
 Wayne Chapman*
 Leroy Clark + m
 
 Kevin Crawford * m
 Tandy Cronyn ~
 
 Ruth Ann Curry* m
 Sharon Douglas ~
 Jean Elliott ~ m
 Jeff Elwell + m
 Honora Fergusson * m
 Charles Gordone * + m

 Judy Baker Goss +
 Bobby Harrel > m
 Robert Hupp * m
 Brent Jennings * m
 Gus Kaikkonen * m
 Peter Kenyon * m
 Henry Kurth > m
 Romulus Linney + m
 
 Rob Mermin ~
 Jennifer Mizenko ~ m
 Gene McKinney ~ m
 Frederick Neuman * + m
 Will Rhys * m
 
 Louise Mosley Smith ~ m
 Glynn Allen Smith ~ m
 
 Virginia Smith * m
 Terry Sneed *
 
 Shepard Sobel * m
 Agapi Stassinopoulus ~ m

 Daniel Stein * m
 Alison Summers * m
 Jana Tift * m
 
 Werner Trieschmann * + m
 Gwendolyn Twillie ~ m
 Francis Warner + m
 
 Kathryn Woods ~ m 

   
m indicates Hendrix-Murphy Foundation for Literature and Language
* indicates director of production
+ indicates playwright
~ indicates performer
> indicates designer/artist