The Dodransbicentennial Takes Center Stage

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This year’s mainstage season opens with “The Electric Baby,” a play centered on life after relocation. (PHOTO BY JESS LUSZCZYK/THE OSBERVER)

By DEIRDRE REED

As the school year kicks into full gear, the Theatre Department at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) prepares for another riveting series of performances. “This season is a celebration,” Austin Spiro, FCLC ’19, says of “Cockfight. “It’s a party and it’s different and it’s fun.” Centered around the theme of Fordham’s Dodransbicentennial, this season’s four plays, “The Electric Baby,” “Cockfight,” “The Luck of the Irish,” and “The Winter’s Tale” take a comic spin on tragedy, displacement and the desire to find a place where we belong.

These plays were written by a diverse group of new playwrights, Shakespeare excluded, and find common ground in that they are accessible and relevant to their Fordham audience. Rachel Ravel ,FCLC ’19, of “The Electric Baby” says, “Fordham has done a lot of plays where we see fantastical, otherworldly characters, and it’s really exciting to be able to look at a character and say, ‘I identify with that, and I find humor in that, and that is everyday.’ Ravel continued, “We don’t sit around in our lives and have something terrible happen to us and sit in it forever. We have to rebuild. And so seeing how these characters rebuild is inspiring and almost therapeutic.” So whether you are an avid theatergoer or not, Fordham’s Mainstage season has something for you.

Stefanie Zadravec’s “The Electric Baby” centers around the stories of Natalia (Tora Alexander, FCLC ’17) and Ambimbola (Wayne Mackins, FCLC ’19), immigrants from Romania and Nigeria, respectively, who have a shared anguish over their doomed child. Set in present-day Pittsburgh, the play is set off by a tragedy that pushes four characters into the narratives of Natalia and Ambimbola: the guilt-ridden inciter Helen (Alicia Moeller, FCLC ’18), her husband Reed (Peter McNally, FCLC ’17), waitress/prostitute-but “not a hooker, two different things”- Rozie (Rachel Ravel, FCLC ’19) and her unfortunate friend Dan (Tony Macht, FCLC ’17). Ravel compares the play to being on a subway and wondering how all of its passengers’ lives would fit together, and says she is excited “to play someone grounded, someone grittier.” Directed by frequent Fordham guest Pirronne Yousefzadeh, “The Electric Baby” can be seen on Oct. 6-8 and 12-14.

“Cockfight,” written by Fordham alum Peter Gil-Sheridan (FCLC ’98), follows Cuban-American teenager Juanie (Austin Spiro, FCLC ’19) as he discovers and cultivates his sexuality, and looks to find his place in a masculine world. His family possesses a human-sized egg that Juanie has been painting, but when the egg hatches, his dad (Kelveen Fabian, FCLC ’18 ) decides to fight the rooster, hence the title. Spiro describes the play as “a two-hour wild rumpus” and adds “I feel really at home with this character…he travels a lot of distance, so I’m really excited for that. It’s an important play because we’re dealing with characters that we don’t normally see, and haven’t seen at Fordham.” Anna Brenner, who directed the show when it was first being developed at downton theater Soho Rep, will reprise her role as director for its first fully realized production. Performances run Nov. 9–11 and 17–19.

“The Luck of the Irish” tells the story of the Taylors, an African American family in the 1950s who purchase a house in a white, segregated neighborhood, with a white family acting as the go-between. Fifty years later, they find out the title of the house may never have been transferred to their family. Jumping back and forth between the present and the past, the play questions how much racial attitudes have evolved in the last 50 years, if at all. Written by Kirsten Greenidge, “The Luck of the Irish” touches on the theme of humans’ inherent longing for a home. It will be performed on Feb. 23–25 and March 1–3.

This year’s season will end on a classical note with William Shakespeare’s comedy “The Winter’s Tale.” Main characters include the jealous and unrelenting King Leontes, his wrongfully accused wife Hermione and Perdita, their radiant daughter who grows up believing she is the child of a shepherd. “The Winter’s Tale” is a story of death and life, romance and comedy, betrayal and redemption, and loss and recovery. Fordham’s Artist in Residence George Drance, SJ, who currently serves as the artistic director of the Magis Theatre Company, will direct. Performances will take place on April 5–7 and 20–22.

All shows take place in the Pope Auditorium. Tickets can be purchased at the box office from 2–6 p.m. Monday through Friday and one hour before each performance, or by contacting the box office at 212-636-6340 or [email protected] Tickets cost $15 for general admission and five dollars for students with a valid I.D. and seniors, and are free of charge for Fordham theatre majors or minors.