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UI Theater Department presents modern version of Greek myth

BY JULIA JESSEN | JANUARY 26, 2012 7:20 AM

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Lord of the Underworld's Home for Unwed Mothers is a mixture of myth and history that takes the ancient Greek story of Demeter and Persephone and shakes it up in the 1960s and 1990s.

"It's about mothers and daughters. It's about family," said director David Hanzal. "It's about making sense of your past in order to have a better future. It's about reconnecting with people who have unfortunately fallen out of your life."

The play will open at 8 p.m. Friday in the Theatre Building's Theatre B. Admission is $5 for non-UI students, free for UI students.

In the production, Dee and the daughter she had to give up in the '60s are reunited in the '90s. When Dee meets daughter Corie after around 25 years, she finds an avid death-metal fan who is wary of the mother who gave her up. Dee must explain the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy in order to show her daughter that she was wanted.

"I'm interested in exploring different mythologies and ideologies and how they shape our choices and our relationships with other people," said M.F.A. playwright student Louisa Hill.

The theater artists she worked with on the play helped to make the project successful, she said.

"My favorite part has been the collaboration with the theater artists that I'm working with," she said. "People brought their own background and experiences to the project, and it really helped to enhance the script."

Junior theater major Alyssa Perry, who plays Dee, said that although she hasn't experienced the same struggles that her character does, the story is somewhat similar to what some generations of her family have experienced, making it easy for her to understand.

"You end up discovering a lot about yourself because you realize all these things the character is doing are exactly things that you would do under certain circumstances," she said.

One of the challenges of working on a new play is that the script is a work in progress. New elements are added and some are taken away as the production advances.

"I think what's most important for me as a director is to nurture this new work, and foster it, and bring it into the universe, so it's something I'm really passionate about," Hanzal said. "Even though it's always a challenge, it's an exhilarating challenge."

Those involved with the play said one thing they enjoyed was the atmosphere of collaboration.

"It's been really neat to be able to create in such a warm environment and collaborate with so many beautiful and goofy people," Perry said.

Although the play takes place in a different time period and involves situations that not everyone has encountered, Hill believes people can relate to the play because it's about people making mistakes, loving each other, and hurting each other.

"I think people can learn a lot about their own lives or about the world in which they live," she said.

"Maybe challenge their assumptions about different groups of people and consider the way that ideology affects our choices, our decisions, and our relationships with people."


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