In today’s age of social media and love of celebrity, PSU Theatre brings a show that reflects on a life obsessed with fame.
Written by playwright John Guare, “The House of Blue Leaves” is a dark comedy that focuses on Artie Shaughnessy, a zookeeper dreaming of becoming a Hollywood songwriter, his mistress Bunny Flingus, and schizophrenic wife Bananas set to be institutionalized at a facility that provides the play’s name. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 25 through Saturday, April 27 with matinees at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday April 27-28 in the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.
“Ultimately it’s a play about the limits of desire,” said Linden Little, director and PSU instructor. “How wanting more and more can leave you feeling less and less.”
Involving nuns, an AWOL infantryman headed for Vietnam, and a political bombing, the plot follows the trio’s exploits on the day Pope Paul VI visited New York City in 1965 as their desire for fame continues to grow.
“It’s a very unusual blend of music and talking directly to the audience and breaking the fourth wall,” Little said. “There’s all of these theatrical conventions that John Guare remixes all together at the same time, so it makes for a really unusual piece.”
After having spent some time considering projects for graduate students, “The House of Blue Leaves” came to Little as a suggestion from fellow Pitt State instructor Megan Westhoff.
“As we were trying to develop something that would be a good fit for our graduate students’ thesis project because we knew we had a thesis project around sustainability,” he said. “We tried to think of titles that would be challenging enough to incorporate that component, but also be a good title to run.”
With opening night on the horizon, Little is ready for the performances and looks forward to discussing them with audiences.
“I never try to interpret for an audience,” he said. “I just want them to have the experience of the play the way I think would be an ideal version, or as close as we can get to as a company, and then let them have their own reaction. That’s the fun for us, to see what they find entertaining or what they think is shocking, and that’s really why we do it.”
In the past, Pitt State Theatre has chosen a different community organization to partner with each show. This season, Pitt State Theatre has opted to partner with Safehouse Crisis Center for the entire duration. As part of the partnership, the company will be collecting various types of soaps — hand soap, laundry soap, dish and dishwasher soap — at the door.
“It was kind of a continuation of the sustainability factor, going green and cleaning up our act,” Little said. “If our audiences would support us in that endeavor, we’d be very appreciative.”
Tickets may be purchased or picked up at the ticket office in the Weede Physical Education Building, online at www.pittstate.edu/tickets, or at the box office in the Bicknell Center 30 minutes before the show. For the general public, tickets are $12 for adults or $7 for those 17 and younger and 65 and older. Tickets are free to Pitt State students, staff, and faculty with a valid PSU ID.