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UCSB Theater Department Celebrates 50th Season, Coveted 50/50 Applause Award

The Department of Theater and Dance at UC Santa Barbara has reason to celebrate. This fall marks the beginning of its 50th season of presenting high-quality productions that showcase the campus’ hugely talented theater and dance students.

Middletown
Top row from left, Rigo Sanchez, Blythe Foster and Dillon Francis, and bottom row from left, Quinlan Fitzgerald and Ian Elliott perform in the UCSB Theater and Dance Department’s production of Middletown: A Play. (David Bazemore photo)

Also cause for celebration is the department’s receipt of a 2014 50/50 Applause Award from the International Centre for Women Playwrights. The award recognizes theater companies and programs around the world that devoted 50 percent or more of their 2013-14 seasons to female playwrights.

UCSB is one of 67 recipients from nine countries. In addition to the United States, the list of winners includes theaters in Afghanistan, Australia, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy and New Zealand.

“It is a sad truth that often women are not as easily able to access platforms as men are, and there are so many stories that go untold,” said ICWP President Karen Jeynes of South Africa. “This award is a fantastic way to acknowledge those who are producing women’s work, and encourage those who aren’t to think about whether there are more ways to include women writers in their lineup.”

Risa Brainin, professor and chair of UCSB’s Department of Theater and Dance, said: “We are truly honored to be one of the recipients. We are one of only three universities to be recognized internationally for gender parity on our stages: four of the six plays presented on the 2013-14 main stage were written by women.”

Those plays include Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, The Fairy Tale Lives of Russian Girls by Meg Miroshnik, Untitled IV by Ruth Markofsky by Alison Tatlock and Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman.

“We thank the IWCP for this wonderful award and plan to continue supporting the work of women writers over the next five years to help the organization achieve its goal of ‘50/50 in 2020,’” Brainin said “We aim to present a multiplicity of voices on our stages, giving students and audiences the opportunity to engage with a variety of writers with a wide range of ideas.”

Brainin, who in October was elected to a two-year term as president of the board of directors of the National Theatre Conference, expressed confidence that organization members can work together “as a community in the theatre world both professionally and in the university setting to ensure that all voices are represented on our stages,” she said.

UCSB theater and dance’s 2014-15 season kicked off with a production of Middletown: A Play written by Will Eno and directed by Tom Whitaker, associate professor of theater at UCSB. Written in 2010, Middletown received the inaugural Horton Foote Prize for Promising New American Play. Performances continue in the campus’s Performing Arts Theater through Saturday, Nov. 22.

The season continues with the annual Fall Dance Concert on Dec. 12-13 in UCSB’s Hatlen Theater. Directed by Christina McCarthy, a lecturer in the theater and dance department, the concert will highlight 35 dancers performing six new works choreographed by fourth-year students, along with pieces by faculty members and guest artists. It will also feature original costumes and lighting created by advanced design students in collaboration with faculty mentors and choreographers.

More information about the 2014-15 season, including a schedule of dates and times, is available by clicking here.

— Andrea Estrada represents the UCSB Office of Public Affairs and Communications.

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