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Dark Comedy Natural Selection to be Staged by DePauw Theatre

October 30, 2008

natural ion poster.jpgOctober 30, 2008, Greencastle, Ind. - The dark comedy Natural Selection, featuring guest artist M. Cochise Anderson, will be presented in conjunction with ArtsFest 2008: Art & Borders. Written by Cleveland Play House's playwright-in-residence, Eric Coble, this second production of the DePauw Theatre 2008-09 season opens on Friday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. in Moore Theatre of the Judson and Joyce Green Center for the Performing Arts. Additional performances of the satiric end-of-the-world fantasy are November 8 - 9 and November 13 - 15. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. except for Sunday, November 9 at 4 p.m.

It is the not-so-distant future. The Culture Fiesta Theme Park needs to restock the natives of the Native American Pavilion, and curator Henry Carson must tackle the ozone-free, viral-infected wasteland of North America MartinEmily_72.jpgto find a genuine Navajo. At home, his wife eagerly blogs his adventures in hermetically sealed comfort and his son attends virtual school, complete with a green screen allowing him to play violin in the school band and star in the class play. (at right: Emily Terrell and Martin Hughes as Henry and Suzie Carson)

In his successful bagging of a native, Carson ends up with a new appreciation for the visceral realities of life. He also mistakenly ends up with Mexican American Zhao Martinez, who has no interest in weaving rugs or throwing pots for the benefit of the tourist trade. Meanwhile, the torrential rain seems as though it might never end. So begins the play's spiral towards humanity's salvation. (at left: Trisha Himmelein as Yoland Pastiche, Martin Huges, and Chris Burton as Ernie Hardaway)

In Navajo creation stories, the people now inhabit the Glittering World -- TrishaMartinChris_72.jpgour world -- as a result of the antics of the trickster Coyote. This perennial mischief-maker abducted the Water Monster's children and she retaliated with the Great Flood. Many such Coyote myths explain natural phenomena such as the creation of the world and the Milky Way. The common theme to all is chaos and change, and in Natural Selection, playwright Coble fantasizes about Coyote's impact on the looming future.

Natural Selection was commissioned for and premiered at the Actors Theatre of Louisville's Humana Festival in 2006. Eric Coble is a prolific writer of plays, many of which have been produced Off-Broadway, throughout the U.S., and on several continents at the Kennedy Center, Playwrights Horizons, the New York and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals, Alliance Theatre, the Cleveland Play House, and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, among others. He is the recipient of several awards including the National Theatre Conference Playwriting Award, an NEA Playwright in Residence Grant, the Cleveland Arts Prize, and two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Grants.

The story of Natural Selection springs from a variety of sources: his preoccupation with the future, his youth on Susan Anthony HS.jpga Navajo reservation in New Mexico, and a visit with his family to Disney World's Epcot Center.

Director M. Susan Anthony (pictured at right), associate professor of theatre and communication at DePauw, chose the play to address the ArtsFest 2008: Art and Borders theme because it provides biting commentary on the way in which Native Americans are stereotyped. But even more importantly the choice reflects an intrigue with the eerie "parallels between the world depicted in the play -- so dependent upon technology and simultaneously so isolated from real human contact -- and our own."

Joining the cast of DePauw students is guest artist, M. Cochise Anderson, a SAG/Equity actor of the Chickewa and Mississippi Choctaw tribes, who will take the role of Zhao. Cochise has performed in films including the original award-winning Sundance Festival entry Smoke Signals, and he has appeared in numerous television shows, including Homicide and the Cosby Show. HisCochise_72.jpg professional stage work includes off-Broadway, off-off Broadway, and regional theatre credits.

Natural Selection is recommended for mature audiences.

Tickets for the production are $3 for students and $6 for adults, and are available for purchase at the DePauw University Green Center for the Performing Arts Center Box Office. Box Office hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 12 to 4 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday 1 - 5 p.m., and one hour prior to show time.

Information and reservations are available by calling (765) 658-4827 or e-mailing greencenter@depauw.edu.

Available for purchase are DePauw Theatre patron passes. Purchasers are entitled to five tickets for the price of four. The passes are available at both student and adult price levels. To purchase or obtain additional information, contact the Green Center box office at the contacts listed above.

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