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Catawba Theatre Arts Offer Two Inventive, Quirky Plays

September 13, 2016

Category: Academics, Events, Students, Theatre Arts

 Prentice Clark in "How I Learned to Drive"

Catawba Theatre Arts kicks off its 2016-2017 season with productions of How I Learned to Drive and Exit the King presented by the Blue Masque in repertory format. How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel directed by Katelyn Long '17 of Lenoir and Exit the King by Eugene Ionesco directed by Trey Irby '17 of Concord take stage at the Florence Busby Corriher Theatre from September 27-October 2.

Repertory performances begin with How I Learned to Drive on Tuesday, September 27, and Wednesday, September 28, followed by Exit the King on Thursday, September 29, and Friday September 30. Then in true repertory fashion, How I Learned to Drive returns on Saturday, October 1. All of those performances are at 7:30 p.m. The final performance will be Exit the King on Sunday, October 2 at 2:30 p.m. All performances are in the Florence Busby Corriher Theatre, down the hill behind the Robertson College-Community Center (RCCC).

The Pulitzer Prize-winning drama How I Learned to Drive by Paula Vogel, one of America's most daring playwrights, shifts backward and forward through time to trace one woman's engrossing journey from adolescence into adulthood.  In this no-holds-barred look back through the rear-view, Li'l Bit, Vogel's protagonist, confronts the lessons learned behind the wheel of her uncle's '56 Chevy – painful lessons most people would be reluctant to share.

 L-R: Laurel Edge and Kayla Guffey in "Exit the King"

According to show director, senior Katelyn Long, "this is a play about acceptance, healing and family. Focused on relationships and Li'l Bit's discovery of how to deal with the fire inside of her."

Long directs a powerhouse cast of versatile and experienced young actors.  In the central role, Prentice Clark '18 of Charleston, S.C., plays Li'l Bit at various stages in her life, from age 11 to 35. Zach Dietz '18 of Panama City, Fla., has the challenge of playing the charming and capricious Uncle Peck. A modern Greek Chorus – comprised of Chaz Cable '18 of Weaverville, Daniel Morrison '19 of Greensboro, Madeline "Maddy" Auchter '17 of Houston, Texas, Collette Simkins '17 of Baltimore, Md., and Molly Sue Harmon '19 of Mint Hill – represents Li'l Bit's mother, aunt, grandparents, schoolmates, onlookers, and lovers.

Early in Exit the King, the realist Queen Marguerite says, "We haven't the time to take our time," and promises that the king will be dead in 90 minutes. Catawba College Theatre Arts Blue Masque Rep continues with what is considered to be Eugene Ionesco's crowning masterpiece, a compelling tragi-comedy that captures King Berenger in the last hours of his life as his centuries-long reign is coming to an end.

As the third piece in Ionesco's "Berenger Cycle," Exit the King stands out as his most accessible and universal play. Scholars have called it everything from an allegory, a dark comedy, a death ritual, a tragic farce, an absurdist lyric poem, a hymn of praise and moving celebration of life. This poignant meditation on death speaks differently to each and every audience member.

"The goal for this production" according to its director, senior Trey Irby, "is to externalize the characters' world views, to see the King's internal crisis with death play out onstage so that the audience can see how far people have distanced themselves from their humanity. It is also a critique of the rising consumer culture that has both fed man's ego and prevented him from preparing himself for death."

Exit the King features Kevin Kent '19 of Monroe as the doomed King Berenger; Laurel Edge '18 of Waxhaw as the wise Queen Marguerite; Kayla Guffey '18 of Clemmons as the young and flighty Queen Marie; Charles Karvon '19 of Concord as the palace doctor, surgeon, executioner, bacteriologist and astrologist; Amy Kimborough '19 of Roxboro as Juliette the maid; and George Glass '17 of Concord as the guard.

Both plays come to life with the support of a dynamic student creative team: Zach Dietz '18 of Panama City, Fla., Scenic Design; Summer Eubanks '17 of Panama City Beach, Fla., Costume Design; and Mark Highsmith '17 of Waynesville, Lighting Design.

Tickets and patron memberships are available from the Catawba Theatre Arts Box Office by calling (704) 637-4481 M-F 1-5 p.m., at or Shuttle service from the RCCC parking lot to the theatre door will begin one hour before the show begins and the lobby box office opens one hour before curtain. Tickets run $6-$9 with discounts for students and senior adults age 55 and over.

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