“Purgatory” senior studio

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Photo courtesy of John Muncy

The University of Dallas Drama Department is proud to present “Purgatory” by W.B. Yeats, directed by senior John Muncy. Performances will be available April 30 through May 2. Keep an eye on your inbox for further information about booking your tickets. Viewing is free.

“Purgatory,” one of the last works by William Butler Yeats, is a dark and haunting tragedy about an old man who, in a desperate attempt to take charge of his troubled past, returns to his once-great family estate, dragging his 16-year-old son along with him. 

The boy, longing for some kind of real human connection, will do anything he can to bring his father back to the present.

“What excites me about this play,” says director John Muncy, “is this idea of control. We often

think we are the masters of our world, but in reality there is something much greater in charge. The more we push against it, the more it pushes back. Of course, this is a far more complex work than I give it credit for due to Yeats’ writing style, and it’s been a tough text to work with. I’m not too worried though, because I’ve got a great team working with me.”

The play is being produced simultaneously alongside another senior student production, “alice is where?,” a new play written and directed by senior Ann Urbanski. Both are pre recorded shows and will be released digitally due to Covid restrictions, just like the previous semester’s senior student productions. 

Adding a digital component to theater has afforded a new set of challenges. Of course, it has changed how the director has had to work with the actors, since all rehearsals must be done through Zoom. Not only must the direction and acting adapt, but technology imposes a new layer to the work, such acquiring visual and audio equipment, dealing with technological issues and even video editing.

“It’s been a lot,” continued Muncy, “because not only do we have to deal with mics and cameras, but we have some really incredible light design that requires some time to set up. There’s a lot of running back and forth and double-checking just to make sure that everything’s set up right. Then we have to deal with problems like: ‘how do we work the lights if we can’t be in the same room as the actor?’ or ‘why isn’t the switch working?'” 

Muncy said, “Having our actors in different spaces makes things a bit more challenging. I have to be in one place and my stage manager, Jordyn Fields, in another, but thankfully, we’ve been able to develop a system that works for us and allows us to work in a timely fashion. Once we got into the flow of it, we knew we could get it done.”

The production features John Knowles as The Old Man and Gabby Delahoussaye as The Boy. Its illuminated set design is done by Faith Berry, costumes by Josie Muncy, sound by Abby Malone and Katrine Christensen, lighting by Hannah Kneen, and props by Hayley Puckett.

“Purgatory (Yeats)” is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc. www.concordtheatricals.com.

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