March 09, 2017

Big Muddy New Play Festival is March 23-26

A play about a misfit caveman headlines the Big Muddy New Play Festival, which features new plays as productions and readings. 

“Torak the Inadequate,” the headline play, written by graduate student Rory Leahy, runs March 23-26 in the C.H. Moe Theater in the Communications Building. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. March 23-25, and 2 p.m. on March 26.

A discussion with Leahy about the play follows the March 24 performance.  A pre-show lecture is at 1:30 p.m. March 26 in the Deans Conference Room adjacent to McLeod Theater.

Mastadons, demons and sinking continents are just a few of the challenges the hero faces on this “road trip” through prehistoric times. Torak, a misfit caveman, is a progressive thinker. His ideas of roasting meat and planting seeds are met with derisive laughter from his caveman cronies. When the tribe is massacred by invading warriors, he and the two other survivors venture forward in hope. They discover the legendary island city of Atlantis where they face captivity, language barriers, and murderous cults that want to end human civilization before it has begun.

“I like it when things collide, and there are ideas bursting everywhere,” Leahy said. The Evanston native said he likes to work with mixed popular genres, combining pulp-fantasy with comedy, social commentary, politics and religion. He said this play began as a riff on “Conan the Barbarian,” a short piece about a nerdy caveman, an “everyman” intellectually ahead of his time waiting for evolution to catch up. Leahy says influences include horror writer H. P Lovecraft, “Sword and Sorcery,” and the historically themed comedy of Monty Python and Mel Brooks.

Tickets are $18, $6 for students. All seats are general admission; seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Seating is limited and there will be no late seating. Tickets in advance are available at the McLeod Theater or SIU Arena box offices, by calling 618/453-6000 or online. The McLeod Theater box office will also be open for ticket sales one hour before each performance as well.

New play readings are set for March 25 at the McLeod Theater. Admission is free and seating is limited. There will be a discussion after each reading.

The schedule is:

  • 10 a.m. – “Notes to Self,” by Brooke Oehme (doctoral student), Kelley Jordan (graduate student) director. The writer’s description of the play states that a life lived in fear is a life half-lived.
  • 1 p.m. – “Vanya on the Plains,” by Jason Hedrick (doctoral student), Greg Aldrich (alumnus), director. The writer’s description notes that Elijah is broken by his job and distanced from his family by a deep technological divide.
  • 4 p.m. – “Devil’s Night,” by David Dudley (graduate student), Bobbi Masters (graduate student) director. The writer’s description says the setting is Devil’s Night in Detroit, a three-day bacchanal during which arsonists burn hundreds of buildings to the ground.