(CINCINNATI, Feb. 6, 2018) — Xavier University Theatre continues its main stage season with Sam Shepard’s acclaimed, Pulitzer-Prize winning play BURIED CHILD. The show — which is directed by former Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park Producing Artistic Director Ed Stern and stars two of the region’s most prolific actors, Bruce Cromer and Regina Pugh — runs Feb. 15 through Feb. 18 in Xavier’s Gallagher Student Center Theatre.
BURIED CHILD shines a surreal spotlight on the disintegration of an American family. Aging patriarch Dodge and his wayward wife Halie are suddenly confronted with the homecoming of their troubled son Tilden, as well as the unexpected visit of their grandson Vince, who has been gone so long no one quite remembers him. As the family tries to make sense of their deteriorating relationships, a murky secret emerges that challenges their beliefs, heritage and memories. With BURIED CHILD, Shepard weaves a compelling Southern Gothic that balances the miracle of renewal with the inevitability of decay.
No one has quite approached the idea of the American family with such imaginative perversion as Sam Shepard. According to Stern, “Shepard is a master storyteller; he has drama, comedy. BURIED CHILD deals with roots, and it deals with finding direction in your life. As an actor himself, Shepard knew how to write for other actors perfectly.”
The relative ambiguity in the script presented Bruce Cromer and Regina Pugh, who portray Dodge and Halie, the opportunity to explore two characters that defy typical logic. Cromer says, “There’s a quote from Shepard that said when he was rewriting BURIED CHILD he didn’t want anything to be unintentionally ambiguous. So there’s intentional ambiguity that makes actors, as well as the audience, scratch their heads and think, ‘What the hell is going on?’ It’s great to work with someone like Ed who excels with details and specifics. He’s not afraid of the weird, irrational aspects of the writing or the world of the story.”
Pugh agrees, stating, “For Halie, in particular, there is a surreal change. There are a lot of unanswered questions with zero explanation. The challenge has been to find the way to make all of that seem right rather than making it seem like anything other than the truth of the play.”
The student actors have found their own challenges within Shepard’s labyrinthine plot. Junior Sam Martini, who plays Tilden, says, “I love the complete reversal of the family dynamic and the way it’s portrayed over time. It’s been a very fun experience, and I’ve learned so much. The play may be difficult, but in this supportive environment it’s easy to go all in.”
The entire cast for BURIED CHILD includes Bruce Cromer (Dodge), Regina Pugh (Halie), Henry Eden (Vince), Holland Taylor (Shelly), Sam Martini (Tilden), Aiden Dalton (Bradley) and Stephen Skiles (Father Dewis). Thomas Wehby understudies the role of Father Dewis. Cromer, Pugh and Skiles all appear courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association.
In addition to Stern, other members of the creative team include Joe Beumer (set design/lighting design); Kevin Semancik (sound design); Maggie Dick (costume design); Andrew Leonard, Cat Sholtis and Micah Price (props design); Hannah Sgambellone (assistant direction); and Bruce Cromer (fight choreography). The stage manager is Emi Suarez. Assistant stage managers are Abby Bricking and Taylor Maas.
Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, 16 and 17 and 2 p.m. on Feb. 17 and 18. Tickets for BURIED CHILD are available now through the Xavier University Theatre Box Office. They are $17 each for adults and $12 each for students, as well as Xavier faculty and staff. Limited seating is available. To purchase tickets, visit www.xavier.edu/theatretickets or call 513-745-3939.
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