The Austin Chronicle

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Christopher Durang

Tony-winning playwright takes up residence at Texas State

By Robert Faires, October 4, 2013, Arts

Many words might be used to describe Christopher Durang these days, but "adrift" is not one of them. The playwright responsible for Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All for You and Pulitzer finalist Miss Witherspoon, among many other comedies, is coming off of an exceptionally busy year, what with his Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike making the leap from a sold-out run at Lincoln Center to a five-month stand on Broadway and winning Best Play prizes from the Tony Awards, the New York Drama Critics' Circle, the Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League, and the Off-Broadway Alliance; and Durang himself receiving the 2012 Master American Dramatist Award from the PEN American Center and Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater.

Still, "adrift" might well be said to be in Durang's immediate future – Adrift in Macao, a 2007 musical for which the playwright penned the book and lyrics, is being mounted by the Texas State University Department of Theatre and Dance, and the author will be in San Marcos to see it. Indeed, he and his partner of 26 years, John Augustine – a widely produced and very funny dramatist in his own right – will be on hand as playwrights-in-residence, thanks to the efforts of Kaitlin Hopkins, head of the musical theatre program at Texas State and an old friend of Durang's, with support from the Bowman Guest Artist Series.

The residency is obviously for the benefit of the department's students, and they'll have the chance to take a master class on the audition process with both authors, but Texas State is creating ample opportunities for the larger community to take advantage of it. After the evening performances of Adrift in Macao Friday and Saturday, Durang will join the cast for a talk-back moderated by Hopkins, who directed the production. And Saturday afternoon, a pair of programs involving the two writers will be open to the public – one focusing on Durang and his career, the other a roundtable discussion about collaboration featuring Durang and Augustine. You might be able to find out about Durang's Yale School of Drama days with Sigourney Weaver, how he feels about Chekhov now that he's older, how it felt to win a Tony, and what in his affection for older films led him to pen a parody of those shadowy melodramas of yore, with their hard-bitten bruisers, tough-talking dames, and seedy locales full of smoke and danger. And if you're an Austinite who hasn't yet savored the abundant pleasures of a musical at Texas State since Hopkins came on board, let Durang be the added incentive to make that 25-minute drive down I-35. It's worth it.


Residency Schedule: Saturday, Oct. 12


"A Conversation With Christopher Durang" – 1-2pm

Durang will field questions from head of playwriting Jim Price and the audience, and will also read from his own work.


"Collaboration: The Process" – 2:30-4pm

Durang and John Augustine will join students in Texas State's playwriting and directing programs for a roundtable discussion about the collaborative process between writer and director, and how it differs when the play is in development and when it's being fully produced. MFA directing associate professor Deb Alley will moderate.


Adrift in Macao runs Oct. 8-13, Tuesday-Saturday, 7:30pm; Sunday, 2 & 7:30pm, at University Mainstage Theatre, 430 Moon, Texas State campus in San Marcos. For more information, call 512/245-2204 or visit www.txstatepresents.com.

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