Art, drama unite for combined show Nov. 12

actors performing on stage
“The Rant,” a mixed media piece featuring ceramics, gold leaf and paint by artist Jan Tindale demonstrates the Ardmore artist’s unique style and imagery. This piece and others will be on display in a double opening of Tindale’s art show, Angels and Altars alongside the USAO Drama Department’s fall production of Angels in America: Millennium Approaches on Nov. 12.

The art and drama departments at the University of Science and Arts are collaborating this fall on a unique event that brings an art show and Pulitzer-prize winning play together into one thought-provoking evening.

Beginning at 7 p.m. Nov. 12, the USAO Art Gallery is scheduled to host an opening for Angels and Altars, a showcase of three-dimensional art created by Ardmore artist Jan Tindale. At 8 p.m., the USAO drama department will raise the curtain in the Davis Hall Theater on its fall production, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches.

The two events will share more in common than just a theme and opening date. Tindale’s work is inspired by her experiences as a woman, which, in her own words, has allowed her to see the world through the eyes of “a daughter, a sister, wife, mother and a widow.”

“Winged beings have appeared at turning points in my life and I use their familiar shapes as messengers,” Tindale said. “Significant symbols include eggs for their perfect shape and energy, wings and hands. Altar themes embrace creation, fertility, humor, nature, loss, religious tolerance and fantasy.”

Katie Davis, Angels director and associate professor of drama, said when she saw Tindale’s work, she recognized the kinship it shared with the play she planned to produce.

“Jan’s work embraces images of femininity, loss, the physical body, the sacred and the profane,” Davis said. “It felt like the ideal complement for a production, which gained its critical acclaim as a theatrical exploration of disease, love, loss, politics, culture, religion, justice and relationships as filtered through the AIDS crisis that ravaged New York City in the mid-1980s.”

At Davis’s request, Tindale agreed to act as a thematic collaborator on the set design for USAO’s production of Angels. In addition, Tindale has created a work specifically for the event titled “Angels in America” that will be included in the gallery showing.

The audience will be encouraged to visit the gallery and talk with the artist during the production’s intermission.

Angels and Altars will be on display in the gallery through Dec. 9.

Angels in America recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and is still in production at major theatres across the nation, including a Broadway revival at the Signature Theatre Company that opened in 2010.

The University of Tulsa theatre department is producing Perestroika, the second half of the Angels in America sequence, in October. The first Oklahoma production of Millennium Approaches was staged 15 years ago by the University of Central Oklahoma.

“The beauty of the script is that it lends itself to different interpretations of design, idea and character,” Davis said. “It is art that is about change and growth, and it is a work of art that changes and grows.”

This collaborative event is another example of the unique interdisciplinary curriculum of the drama program. USAO’s drama program currently has 30 majors, but the department’s productions are open to all students, alumni, faculty and staff of the college.

Alumnus Henry Heine, current president of the Chickasha Community Theater, is returning to the stage at USAO for the first time in many years, playing the role of Roy Cohn. Though fictionalized in Angels, Cohn was an historical figure who served as lead counsel to Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the early 1950s. Cohn remained an influential figure in political circles during much of his career and served as in informal advisor to both Presidents Nixon and Reagan. Cohn died of complications from AIDS in 1985 despite insisting publicly that he had liver cancer.

Other notable contributions to the cast include Steve Breerwood, M.F.A. and assistant professor of art at USAO, who has never been on stage but he will be playing the role of Henry in the production. USAO students Jesus Lugo, a music junior from Chickasha and Cody Rayfield, a freshman from Chickasha with an undeclared major, are not drama students but emerged as strong members of the 18-person cast during the four hours of auditions.

Davis said she is grateful to be directing a drama department at an institution like USAO because of its mandate to address substantive issues in a manner that reaches across disciplines.

“It’s a unique opportunity to be able to collaborate so fully with the music and art programs, and a wonderful inspiration to teach theatre as an interdisciplinary art, mirroring the idea-centered core curriculum that makes USAO distinctive and excellent,” Davis said. “I am thrilled to coordinate a program in theatre arts that has so many opportunities to bring big ideas to the campus and community.”

Angels in America contains profanity and sexual content. No one under the age of 18 will be admitted without a parent or guardian.

Parties interested in more information about either event are encouraged to call (405)574-1239.


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