Sept. 14, 2017
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts’ (MCLA) Fine and Performing Arts (FPA) Department announces its 2017-18 theatrical season, titled “We the People,” is planned in response to last November’s presidential election and the nation’s political and social upheaval.

The season will include a rock musical about black identity in America, a reinvigorated 17th century classic comedy, a timely drama from avant-garde playwright Eugene Ionesco, and a legendary acclaimed work from America’s icon of musical theatre, Stephen Sondheim.

According to Laura Standley, associate professor of theatre, “It is our hope that this season will provide an outlet for conversations with students that provide deeper insight into this uneasy time, as well as challenge our entire community to ask questions about what we can do to make things right.”

All performances will take place in MCLA’s Venable Theater, and will feature discussions with local experts, as well as casts and creatives following all second Saturday evening performances. “Critical Response Sessions” based on Liz Lerman’s “Critical Response Process” will be held with audience, cast and creatives following each production.

The season will kick off on Friday, Oct. 13, with “Passing Strange,” an autobiographical story from “Stew of Stew” and “The Negro Problem, with music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald. “Passing Strange” is about a young black man from Los Angeles who feels like a foreigner in his own country. He leaves behind his middle class, church-ruled upbringing and travels to Europe in search of his artistic and personal identity, or what he calls, “the real.”

“Passing Strange” will run through Sunday, Oct. 22. A panel discussion with the artists, students, faculty, as well as experts on race relations in America will take place after the Saturday, Oct. 21, 8 p.m. performance, and a “Critical Response Session” will take place on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 6 p.m. Both discussions will take place in Venable Theater.

The second play of the season, “Tartuffe,” a biting satire aimed at religious hypocrisy, will run Friday, Dec. 1, through Sunday, Dec. 10. Banned in Paris in 1667, it is one of French playwright Moliere’s most famous comedies. This production of Tartuffe will set the play in a “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” world with a sinister, and outlandishly puritanical, Tartuffe.

A Talk Back with the cast and creatives will take place on Saturday, Dec. 9, after the 8 p.m. performance in Venable Theater. A “Critical Response Session” will take place on Sunday, Dec. 11, at 6 p.m., also in Venable Theater.

“Rhinoceros,” written in 1958 in response to playwright Eugène Ionesco’s experience of fascism in Romania in the 1930s, will be the first production of the spring semester, running Feb. 23 through March 4, 2018. North Adams theatre artist painter, puppeteer, and performer David Lane will direct this existential allegory about the nature of moral strength and weakness, and whether we should see the survival of the human race as triumph or tragedy.

The 2017-18 season will conclude with a more mature retelling of what happens after “Happily Ever After” in the musical theatre classic “Into the Woods,” April 20 through 29.

Further information about discussion events, complete casting and additional production information will be announced at a later date. For more information or to reserve tickets, please call the box office, (413)-662-5123, or go to

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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