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story.lead_photo.caption Molly Tennison plays Maxine Faulk, owner of the run-down Costa Verde Hotel on Mexico’s west coast; Paige Lokey is Hannah, a visiting artist; and Alex Sanders portrays defrocked minister Lawrence Shannon in the UAFS production of Tennessee Williams’ “Night of the Iguana.”

Bob Stevenson, director of theater at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, has a reputation. He's been the catalyst for staging edgy, unusual, trend-setting performance art, not just at UAFS but in competition in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival.

Now it's time for something completely different.

FAQ

‘Night of the Iguana’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19-21 & Oct. 23-24

WHERE — Breedlove Auditorium on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith

COST — $6

INFO — 788-7300

This fall, Stevenson and a cast made up largely of brand-new UAFS students will produce an American classic, Tennessee Williams' "Night of the Iguana," a language-dense tragicomedy set on the eve of World War II.

Debuted on Broadway in 1961, the play "carts a distinctive basket of disreputables to a backwater Mexican location and challenges them to talk and think their way out," Variety critic Bob Verini describes.

"I knew this was going to be a challenge," says Stevenson with his usual enthusiasm. "But this is also very good material for an actor to cut his teeth on."

Like Shakespeare, Ibsen or Chekhov, this particular Williams drama is "subtle and poetic" and "drives much longer thoughts" than his better-known "Cat On a Hot Tin Roof" or "A Streetcar Named Desire." "This might be his most masterful bit of crafting as a writer," Stevenson adds. "You're looking at a playwright at the top of his form. But it's certainly not his most accessible [script]!"

The first challenge, he says, was introducing youngsters born at the cusp of the 20th and 21st centuries to life in the 1940s -- specifically on Sept. 5, 1940, as specified in the play. That means showing them everything from how people in that era spoke and walked and sat and wore their clothing to the dynamics of interaction between genders and ages.

"You kind of have to approach it like Shakespeare," Stevenson admits. "Text is the vehicle of this play. You, the actor, are not the vehicle of this play -- and that's backwards from most post-modern acting.

"Let's get the style, get the period, and once all that happens, the play is going to play itself, because it's written so well. I can't wait for people to see the world that we are able to create."

-- Becca Martin-Brown

bmartin@nwadg.com

NAN What's Up on 10/13/2017

Print Headline: Borne Aloft By Language

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