The Austin College theatre program will present Timberlake Wertenbaker’s drama The Love of the Nightingale March 7–9 at 7:30 p.m. in Ida Green Theatre of Ida Green Communication Center. The production, directed by Liz Banks, associate professor of theatre, is open to the general public. Tickets, $8 or free with Austin College ID, will be available at the door. The play includes adult themes. For more information, call 903.813.2281.
The play is a retelling of the Greek myth of Philomela, as told by Ovid in Metamorphoses. In it, the daughter of the king of Athens is raped by her sister’s husband, the king of Thrace, and later turned into a nightingale. Banks said that, although the play was written in 1988 and tells an ancient story, it feels startlingly relevant today. She explained that she was drawn to the play when she realized how strongly Philomele’s actions echo today’s “Me Too” movement. “A character realizes that ‘the one alive who cannot speak, that one has truly lost all power.’ All around us today, so many women who have been abused and silenced for too long are finding creative and active ways to reclaim their voice and their power,” Banks said. “In the play, Philomele is abused by the most powerful leader in the land and brutally silenced when she threatens to accuse him publicly—and yet she still finds a way to tell her story.”
Banks also found that the play echoes themes from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale. In that book, the men are able to set up a system in which men control women—their voices, their bodies, their sex lives, and even where they can live and who they can speak with, she said.
“It’s been a hard play to work on—the story makes me so uncomfortable, but I think that’s what’s important about it,” Banks said. “All of the characters are flawed (this is a Greek myth, after all), and I wish they would act differently. Many of them, men and women alike, look the other way and ignore the king’s actions. They feel powerless, believing there is nothing they can do to prevent the abuse that happens or to bring justice after the fact. It’s a tragedy. But I hope our students will watch the show and be inspired to take action in their own lives, realizing that they have to speak up, protect the powerless, confront abusers, and challenge a system that gives some people control over others. We have the choice today to do what this Greek chorus felt it could not: take action to prevent tragedy before it happens, and give voice and respect to those who feel silenced.”
Members of the cast are sophomore Kyle Andrle of Allen, Texas; sophomore Santos Botello of Galveston, Texas; sophomore Alexandra Baker-Livingston of Richardson, Texas; senior Marissa Brown of Grayslake, Illinois; junior Scotti Brown of Houston, Texas; senior Zoe Garner of Cypress, Texas; senior Emma Grundy of Wichita Falls, Texas; sophomore Michael Megenhardt of Houston, Texas; freshman Gissell Morales of Dallas, Texas; senior Matthew Rapier of Plano, Texas; senior Taylor Spurgin of Mansfield, Texas; and junior Tommy Teschner of Dallas, Texas.
The production team includes senior Audrey Rose of Round Rock, Texas, as stage manager; freshman Chloe Schnaible of Allen, Texas, assistant stage manager; senior Erik Drake of Carrollton, Texas, props; and sophomore Kat Forbus of Studio City, California, sound designer. Banks is lighting designer as well as director; Dan Pucul, technical director for Ida Green Center, is set designer; and guest Vanessa Baker is costume designer.
Special events will follow each night’s performance. On Wednesday, March 7, Dr. Randi Tanglen of the Austin College English faculty will give comments and lead a discussion. On Thursday, March 8, the show will be followed by a performance of the Austin College Improv Troupe. Following the show on Friday, March 9, guests are invited to stay for a talk back and discussion with the cast and crew.
Austin College, a private national liberal arts college located north of Dallas in Sherman, Texas, has earned a reputation for excellence in academic preparation, international study, pre-professional foundations, leadership development, committed faculty, and hands-on, adventurous learning opportunities. One of 40 schools profiled in Loren Pope’s influential book Colleges That Change Lives, Austin College boasts a welcoming community that embraces diversity and individuality, with more than 40 percent of students representing ethnic minorities. A residential student body of approximately 1,275 students and a faculty of more than 100 allow a 13:1 student-faculty ratio and personalized attention. The College is related by covenant to the Presbyterian Church (USA) and cultivates an inclusive atmosphere that supports students’ faith journeys regardless of religious tradition. Founded in 1849, the College is the oldest institution of higher education in Texas operating under original name and charter.