PEMBROKE, NC – One of University Theatre’s spring performances, Richard Sheridan’s The Rivals, holds a special place in the heart of its director, Theatre professor Holden Hansen, recipient of the 2018 UNC Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“It was my favorite production experience in undergraduate school back in 1980,” Hansen said. “I played Bob Acres and we did the show in a ‘tennis court’ seating (with audience on two sides) in a studio theatre setting.” This model inspires Hansen’s spring production of the play—scheduled for April 2 to 5 at 5:30 p.m. in the studio theater and April 18 at 7:30 p.m. on the main stage of Givens Performing Arts Center— with a twist.
“Unlike the production back in 1980, we are going for a theatricalized hybrid style that combines the high fashion of contemporary runway modeling with eighteenth-century fashion,” he said. “The milieu we hope to create may also emulate current trends in contemporary ‘variety-talent’ TV.”
Hansen’s approach seeks to emphasize the play’s iconic characters. “This concept brings a contemporary flavor to the self-conscious, self-absorbed mannered behavior of the characters, and plays into the penchant of the characters to break the ‘fourth wall’ and acknowledge the audience,” he said. “I love that the play in its own time seems to have been a bit of a satire on the trend towards sentimental comedy, which sacrificed comedy for an emphasis on Puritan conceptions of virtue. Sheridan subverts this by exposing ludicrous behavior in the characters, and the result is hilarious.”
The production will make good on the play’s comedy and showcase the talents of its actors. “I consider Sheridan's comedy to be a masterful contribution to the world canon of comedy of manners,” Hansen said. “It will be enormously challenging for our students to work on this piece, and I hope the audience laughs and has a good time.”
In addition to The Rivals, University Theatre will present Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, directed by Carolanne Marano, on Feb. 14, 15, and 16 at 7:30 p.m. in GPAC.
Visit www.uncp.edu/gpac to see the full list of shows for this season.