The UWM students enrolled in the Peck School of the Arts Department of Theatre’s Performance Workshop take to the stage February 19-22 in a staged reading of PEER GYNT, Henrik Ibsen’s sprawling picaresque. Performances take place February 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 pm and February 22 at 2 pm in the Studio Theatre, 2400 East Kenwood Boulevard, on the UWM campus. Tickets are $8 general admission and $5 for students and seniors, and are available from the Peck School of the Arts Box Office, (414) 229-4308. Director James Tasse, an alumnus of the Professional Theatre Training Program, is excited at the prospect of introducing both students and audiences to a play that is rarely seen. There are good reasons for that, Tasse notes. PEER GYNT is a Dramatic Poem’ that runs over four hours uncut; it is steeped in Norwegian folklore and mythology; and a full production requires a large cast and some problematic scenic elements. At the same time, PEER GYNT offers many possibilities to the adventurous, including the opportunity for an ensemble of actors to engage in a large, sweeping piece, using complex language and imagery. PEER GYNT maps the journey of the eponymous and legendary hero as he ventures out of the Norwegian mountains to encounter a profusion of characters, both fantastic and real. Peer, who is steadfast in his determination to lead the unexamined life, makes his unreflecting way to locales as remote as the desert, lightheartedly dodging reality, responsibility, and mortality as he goes. Tasse has chosen to do PEER GYNT as a staged reading, reduced to a more reasonable length. I use reduced’ in the culinary sense, says Tasse. We are condensing images and ideas into a distilled’ PEER that is both powerful and manageable. As a staged reading, the exploration of the rhythmic language will be a central focus. Tasse chose Rolf Fjelde’s translation because he admired the muscularity of the poetry. There was also a connection with UWM: in the second edition, Fjelde acknowledges Robert Corrigan, Sanford Robbins and Jewel Walker for the work that the PTTP did in a series of pre-production workshops that preceded the publication of this edition of the play. Tasse has taught several courses in the Department of Theatre. An actor and director, Tasse is beginning his eleventh season with The Chamber Theatre where he has appeared in DINNER WITH FRIENDS, UNDER MILKWOOD, THE HERBAL BED, WAITING FOR GODOT, OLEANNA, ARMS AND THE MAN, THE BRIDGE AT MO DUC and TIMON OF ATHENS. He has also appeared in productions with Next Act, Northern Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Indiana Repertory, Stage West and Illinois Shakespeare Festival. His directing credits for Chamber Theatre include THE BEAST ON THE MOON, THE CURE AT TROY, VALLEY SONG AND TEDDYKINS. The Theatre Performance Workshop, which has already presented Shaw’s Arms and the Man this year, is one of many performance opportunities open to students in the growing undergraduate program. In addition to partnering with Milwaukee Shakespeare in the spring semester, the Department will be producing Marsha Norman’s first play, Getting Out, in April.
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