Yale Bulletin and Calendar

February 1, 2002Volume 30, Number 16

Christopher Durang

Next Yale Rep play is humorous
tale of a haunted vacation

A woman's much-anticipated respite by the sea turns into a harrowing ordeal at a haunted house occupied by a serial killer, a superstud and strange voices in "Betty's Summer Vacation," the next production of the Yale Repertory Theatre's 2001-2002 season.

The Obie Award-winning comedy by Christopher Durang tells the story of an assortment of oddballs vacationing at a haunted beach house owned by the volcanic Mrs. Siezmagraff. The strange voices emanating from the ceiling and dismembered body parts in the freezer make it clear that no one is safe in this satire about a sensation-obsessed culture. The production runs from Feb. 7 through March 2 at the Yale Rep, corner of York and Chapel streets.

"This play is loaded with familiar comic targets -- the media run amok, the endless struggles between parents and children, relationship woes," says Doug Hughes, former artistic director of New Haven's Long Wharf Theatre, who will direct the production. "This is Christopher Durang's most buoyant work yet, where he shows us something very familiar and then he rewires our brains to see it in a whole new way. And in doing so we realize it is absurd ... and very funny."

Hughes won critical acclaim for his recent production of "Othello" at the Public Theater in New York City. He won the 1996 Obie Award and Drama Desk nomination for his Manhattan Class Company production of Tim Blake Nelson's "The Grey Zone." He has been director of the artistic planning for the Guthrie Theater and associate artistic director of both the Seattle Rep and the Manhattan Theatre Club. Hughes co-produced Margaret Edson's 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Wit" and adapted and directed "Hedda Gabbler" at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago. His other productions have included the world premiere of Tim Blake Nelson's "Anadarko," the American premiere of Shelagh Stevenson's "An Experiment with an Air Pump," the world premiere of John Guare's "Lake Hollywood" and the world premiere of David Rabe's "A Question of Mercy."

Durang is a 1974 graduate of the School of Drama. His plays include "A History of the American Film," for which he received a Tony nomination for the Best Book of a Musical; "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You," which won an Obie Award during its Off-Broadway run; and "The Marriage of Bette and Boo," which won an Obie Award and the Dramatists Guild Hull Warriner Award. He also wrote "Beyond Therapy," which ran on Broadway in 1982 and featured Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow; "Baby with the Bathwater"; and "The Actor's Nightmare." His "Sex and Longing" was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Theater and starred fellow School of Drama graduate Sigourney Weaver. Durang also penned "The Idiots Karamazov," "'Dentity Crisis," "Das Lusitania Songspeil" and "Durang, Durang."

The cast of "Betty's Summer Vacation" includes Julie Lauren as Betty, Lizbeth Mackay as Mrs. Siezmagraff, Cameron Blair as Trudy, Jared Reed as Keith, Matt Farnsworth as Buck, Matthew Cowles as Mr. Vanislaw, Jordan Gelber as Voice 1, Adrienne Carter as Voice 2 and Louis Butelli as Voice 3.

The design team for "Betty's Summer Vacation" includes scenic designer Erik Flatmo, costume designer Camille Benda, lighting designer Agnieszka Kunska and composer/sound designer David Van Tieghem. Completing the artistic team are fight director Rick Sordelet, dramaturg Ilana Brownstein and stage manager Lisa Porter.

Performances are at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 11, 18 and 25; and at 8 p.m. all other nights. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Feb. 16 and 23 and March 2. A Wednesday matinee is offered on Feb. 27. Tickets range in price from $22 to $39. To order tickets or for more information, call the Yale Rep box office at (203) 432-1234. Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.yalerep.org.


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Yale Commemorates 'Profound and Compelling Legacy' of Martin Luther King Jr.


IN FOCUS: Needle Exchange Program

Library exhibit pays tribute to alumnus and statesman Cyrus Vance

Next Yale Rep play is humorous tale of a haunted vacation


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Exhibit celebrates ways language and visual form express human experience

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