The USC Department of Theatre and Dance, with Pacific Performance Project/east, will stage a return engagement of Flight, an original play conceived and directed by USC Professor Steven Pearson with text by USC Professor Robyn Hunt, May 23-24 at Longstreet Theatre.
Flight was last performed at Longstreet in May, 2010, after workshop performances at the university the previous year. In 2011, it premiered in NYC at the Connelly Theatre.
Pearson is again directing the show, which was written by Hunt. This script has been continually revised since its original writing, Hunt says. “It is the fourth go-round, and for this one, Steve and I watched the DVD of the NY production carefully, took notes, watched again, went over the script, trimmed and tightened. So it has evolved over time to something tighter, cleaner, and more direct.”
The Longstreet performances are the first in a planned tour of the show, which will have its next stop May 29 at Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville for a performance at the school's experimental theatre festival, XFest.
Pearson describes Flight as a “theatrical poem” that explores the thrill and daring of the first women aviators. The play’s narrative follows two French actresses who are preparing to make a history-making flight from Paris to Moscow in 1913. The two women are also the subjects of a documentary being made by a female filmmaker as they work to prepare their plane. At a time when society considers flying a masculine endeavor and acting an unfavorable profession for a woman, will they succeed?
Flight is the third in a trilogy of original plays which Pearson calls “riffs” on the works of Russian playwright Anton Chekov. In all three plays of the trilogy, Pearson uses a different Chekov play as inspiration to create a new work. The first, Balance, was a reverie on Chekov’s The Three Sisters; the second, Gravity, used the play The Cherry Orchard as its jumping-off point. Flight references characters and themes from The Seagull.
Pearson says of the trilogy, which he began in 1999, “All of the plays involve ‘work,’ allowing actors to do real physical work. I’m very interested in that. I’ve also been very interested in connecting the figurative and literal meanings of each of the plays’ titles -- Balance, Gravity and Flight.”
Cast in Flight for the first time as the two ambitious aviatrices/actresses are professional actor Lenne Klingaman and third-year MFA Acting student Jessi Noel. Reprising roles are MFA theatre alum Eric Bultman as Gerard, their production manager, theatre alum Will Shuler as a young actor accompanying the women on their adventures, and Robyn Hunt as Alysse, the documentary filmmaker.
Show times for Flight are 8pm each evening. Tickets are $5 and available only at the door. Longstreet Theatre is located at 1300 Greene St. in Columbia.
For more information about Flight or the theatre program at the University of SC, contact Kevin Bush in the USC Department of Theatre and Dance via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 803-777-9353.