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The Undermain's 29th Season: 3 Regional Premieres and One Avant-Garde Classic

by Jerome Weeks 20 Aug 2012 10:04 PM

Plus, a new venue. The Undermain will present a new piece by performance artist Fred Curchack and their first work by acclaimed Irish screenwriter-playwright Enda Walsh, who’ll be in residency at SMU.


The Undermain’s new season, beginning in September, will feature three works new to North Texas — including one by performance artist Fred Curchack — and another Strindberg revival (after last year’s Easter), part of the company’s series of ‘avant-garde classics.’ This one, August Strindberg’s famous ‘dream play, The Ghost Sonata, will be directed by Patrick Kelly, who staged the Undermain’s acclaimed revival of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party.

Speaking of classics, the new season actually has a notable,-looking quality: The first play is a two-actor adaptation of Homer’s Iliad, the second is Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen’s re-telling of the Biblical tale of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael, while the third is a modern version of the story of Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, who kept her suitors waiting for twenty years until her husband returned. Written by Enda Walsh — best known for the hit movie-turned-Broadway-musical OncePenelope will be directed by Stan Wojewodski, Jr., chairman of the SMU Theater Department who staged Samuel Beckett’s Endgame for the Undermain two years ago.

Walsh is also the recipient of the SMU Meadows Prize, and Penelope will be the Undermain’s first venture in the new City Performance Hall.

The full release follows:

Undermain Theatre’s 29th Season – 2012/2013

The Season of Myth

Undermain Theatre, the premier purveyor of alternative performance in the Southwest, announces its 29th season, the season of myth with four productions exploring mythic and poetic realms. This season will also bring Undermain to the Dallas Arts District where it will transform the new Dallas City Performance Hall stage into a black box theatre seating 100 in January 2013. Undermain will also welcome the return of Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen to the Undermain basement space. The 29th season will be rounded out by three more selections for their acclaimed Undermain Reads at the Dallas Museum of Art series.

  • An Iliad

Adapted from Homer by Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare, Translation by Robert Fagles. Directed by Katherine Owens A Regional Premiere Performed by Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad

September 29th through October 27th, 2012 Previews September 26th, 27th and 28thOpening and press night September 29th

“Rage—Goddess, sing the rage of Achilles.” Homer’s Iliad, an account of the ten-year Trojan War, is one of the canonical texts of Western literature. In An Iliad, a radical new vision of this timeless tale, Lisa Peterson and Denis O’Hare have restored Homer’s classic to a single wandering poet who recounts a story of three thousand years of human conflict and destruction. Artistic director Katherine Owens illuminates literature’s most influential ancient classic through the art of myth and story. Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad perform against this mythic landscape and reveal Homer’s epic in words and music.

Lisa Peterson (Playwright) As a renowned theater director Lisa Peterson has directed her play An Iliad at New York Theatre Workshop, The McCarter Theatre and Seattle Rep. Other recent credits include Surf Report (La Jolla Playhouse) and Romance (Bay Street). NY credits: The Poor Itch, Tongue of a Bird and The Square (Public Theater); Shipwrecked and Model Apartment (Primary Stages); Tight Embrace (INTAR); Birdy and Chemistry of Change (WPP); The Fourth Sister and The Batting Cage (Vineyard); Collected Stories (MTC); Sueno (MCC); Bexley, OH, Slavs!, Traps, The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek, Light Shining in Buckinghamshire (OBIE award) and The Waves, which Lisa adapted from the novel with David Bucknam (all at NYTW). Regional work: Mark Taper Forum, La Jolla Playhouse, Guthrie, Hartford Stage, OSF, Berkeley Rep, Cal Shakes, Yale Rep, Arena Stage, Huntington, Actors Theater of Louisville. Yale College graduate, SDC executive board member.

Denis O’Hare (Playwright) Denis O’Hare is an actor and writer who lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. This is his first collaboration and his debut as a writer for the theater. While at Northwestern pursuing an acting degree he studied poetry under Alan Shapiro, Mary Kinzie and Reginald Gibbons. He has appeared on Broadway and Off-Broadway as well as in many regional theaters, including the McCarter, where he was seen in Wonderful Tennessee, directed by Doug Hughes. He has appeared in such films as Milk, Michael Clayton, Charlie Wilson’s War, A Mighty Heart, Duplicity, 21 Grams, Garden State and the upcoming Eagle. TV work includes Brothers and Sisters, CSI Miami, Law and Order and he recently completed Season 3 of True Blood as the Vampire King Russell Edgington.

  • Burying Our Father: A Biblical Debacle

by Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen A Regional Premiere

November 1st through November 17th, 2012 Preview Oct. 31st, Opening and Press night Nov. 1st

Renowned performing artists Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen return to the Undermain stage where they’ve brought other original collaborations, Monkey: the Quest to the west, Noh: Angels, Demons and Dreamers and Golden Buddha Beach to vivid life. In their latest fantastical tale, Isaac and Ishmael meet to bury their father Abraham in the cave that has become one of the most revered and violently contested holy sites in history. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim versions of this ancient story interweave and collide as Fred and Laura perform all the roles in an outrageous mix-up of drama, comedy, music, dance, and light and shadow magic. Burying Our Father: A Biblical Debacle is an irreverent, hilarious exploration of the similarities and differences between the Abrahamic religions and the impact of these beliefs on family, society, and history.

Fred Curchack has created seventy-seven original theatre pieces (fifty ensemble works and twenty- seven solos). His award-winning performances have been featured at dozens of international theatre festivals. Last year, he received a special award from the Dallas/Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum “for being a Renaissance theater artist.” After attending The High School of Performing Arts and Queens College, Curchack studied Indian Kathakali, Japanese Noh, Balinese Topeng, choreography with Alwin Nikolais, and he trained with Grotowski’s Polish Theater Lab. He is currently Professor of Art and Performance at The University of Texas at Dallas. In addition to his solo work at Undermain and his collaborations with Laura Jorgensen, he appeared in the theatre’s production of Endgame as Nag.

Laura Jorgensen was a founding member of Western Union Theater Company at Cinnabar Theater. While living in Budapest, she acted and directed with The English Theater Company. Some favorite roles include: Jim Geoghan’s Light Sensitive, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, Sam Shepard’s Lie of the Mind, Terrence McNally’s A Perfect Ganesh, G.B. Shaw’s Heartbreak House, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, Athol Fugard’s The Road to Mecca, Oscar Wilde’s The Ideal Husband, Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House, John O’Keefe’s Glamour (premiere) and Queer Theory (premiere), and Eric Overmeyer’s On the Verge. She has also appeared at Undermain in productions of Endgame and Easter. She has collaborated with Fred on ten original productions.

  • Penelope

by Enda Walsh Directed by Stan Wojewodski, Jr. A Regional Premiere Performance Dates in January, 2013 TBA at the new Dallas City Performance Hall

Tony Award-winner for the hit Irish musical Once, Enda Walsh is also the 2012-2013 recipient of the SMU Meadows Prize. In his latest comic drama, Penelope, Walsh shows us four modern men confined by Homeric legend. He borrows from the story of Penelope, who tricked her suitors for 20 years as she awaited the return of her husband, Odysseus. In Walsh’s lusty take, the suitors have dwindled to four men of different ages, battling one another to woo the beautiful Penelope. They dwell at the bottom of a drained swimming pool on their beloved’s estate, complete with barbecue, rolling bar, stereo, and CCTV camera. As Penelope appears on an upper level to listen to their entreaties they each step forward to make their final attempt to win her heart. Described by Michael Billington of The Guardian as a “a wild, crazy, word-drunk piece that intoxicates and baffles,” Penelope is a fierce and funny examination of male competition.

Enda Walsh is a playwright and screenwriter who won the Tony award for best book of a musical for the current Broadway hit Once. In 2007 and 2008 Enda won Fringe First Awards at two consecutive Edinburgh Festivals for his plays The Walworth Farce and The New Electric Ballroom. He won both the George Devine Award and the Stewart Parker Award in 1997 with his play Disco Pigs. His work in film include his 2008 biopic, Hunger, the story of the final days of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands which won a host of awards, including the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It was nominated for seven BIFAs (including Best Screenplay), six British Film and Television Awards (including Best Screenplay and Best Independent Film), and BAFTA’s Outstanding British Film Award 2009. He has since adapted his stage play, Chatroom, for the big screen.

  • The Ghost Sonata

by August Strindberg Directed by Patrick Kelly

April 13th through May 11th, 2013 Previews April 10th, 11th, & 12th Opening and press night Saturday April 13th

In August Strindberg’s haunting chamber-mystery, a young man is enlisted by a mesmerizing stranger to enter a haunted house on a beautiful Sunday morning and rescue a young woman trapped within. Inside he encounters a world of vampires, mummies and ghosts, a family imprisoned in a legacy of greed, duplicity and manipulation. Compelled to free the mesmerizing young beauty, he confronts the demons with the destructive force of truth. Swedish master August Strindberg’s savage dream play shook the foundations of modern theatre when it debuted a century ago and remains one of the most influential experimental dramas of all time.

Johan August Strindberg is considered one of the fathers of modern drama. Strindberg was born in Stockholm in 1849, where a depressing childhood and a rocky scholastic career provided ample material for writing. His playwriting career evolved through several styles. In the late 1800’s, Strindberg’s writing developed into Naturalism, which employed the revolutionary use of three- dimensional settings, natural speech forms, and secular world viewpoints. His most famous naturalistic play, Miss Julie was written in 1888. Strindberg subsequently ended his association with naturalism to embrace another newly developed style: symbolism, which used symbolic images to suggest mystical ideas or states of mind. Strindberg’s most noted symbolic plays include A Dream Play and The Ghost Sonata. Struggling to find producers for his work, Strindberg built his own Intima Teater (Intimate Theatre) in 1907. Twenty-five of Strindberg’s plays were performed in this theatre with a total of 2,500 performances. Strindberg died in 1912, but his influence still affects today’s theatre. His plays eventually gained broad public appeal and through their innovative use of naturalism and symbolism, he became the first true modern dramatist.

Undermain Theatre’s 29th season – 2012/2013

An Iliad

Adapted from Homer by Lisa Peterson and Dennis O’Hare, translation by Robert Fagles A Regional Premiere Directed by Undermain Theatre Artistic Director Katherine Owens Performed by Bruce DuBose and Paul Semrad

September 29th – October 27th, with preview performances Sep. 26thth, 27th & 28th

Burying Our Father: A Biblical Debacle

Created and performed by Fred Curchack and Laura Jorgensen A Regional Premiere November 1st through 17th, 2012 with preview performance Oct. 31st


by Enda Walsh Directed by Stan Wojewodski, Jr. A Regional Premier Performances in January, 2013 Venue – Dallas City Performance Hall

The Ghost Sonata

by August Strindberg Directed by Patrick Kelly May 11th – June 8thnd with preview performances May 8th, 9th, and 10th.


Undermain Reads at the Dallas Museum of Art

Readings of three selections at the Dallas Museum of Art’s Horchow Theatre. TBA Readings are free to the public with general admission to the DMA

Undermain Theatre performances are Wednesdays-Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays-Saturdays at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are Wednesday & Thursdays $15, Fridays $20, and Saturdays $25. Undermain is located at 3200 Main Street at the corner of Murray Street in Deep Ellum. Discounts are available for seniors, students, KERA members, and groups. Call 214.747.5515 or visit

Undermain Theatre, founded in 1984, is a company of artists that performs new and experimental works in Texas, New York, and Europe. The theater collaborates with playwrights, supports a theater archive and operates a theater under 3200 Main Street in Dallas’ legendary Deep Ellum. Call 214-747-1424 or visit for more information. Artistic Director: Katherine Owens, Executive Producer: Bruce DuBose, Associate Producer: Suzanne Thomas, Operations Manager: Ariana Cook.