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Lycoming College’s 2020-2021 theatre season opens with August Strindberg’s “The Dance of Death.” This brand new version of the classic play, written and directed by C. Austin Hill, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor at Lycoming College, will be available for online streaming, free of charge, from Dec. 4-7, at www.lycoming.edu/theatreschedule.
Originally written in 1899, Strindberg’s “The Dance of Death” is the story of Alice and her military captain husband Edgar. As Alice and Edgar approach their 25th wedding anniversary in isolation on an island military base, the reality of their grim and unhappy existence is revealed. A visit from Alice’s cousin, Curt, helps to expose the effects of decades of seclusion on this already-rotten marriage. In this new version of the classic play, Hill brings the language into the 21st century, while keeping intact the dark humor of Strindberg’s original.
“We knew we had a challenging task ahead of us,” said Hill. “We wanted a production that would resonate with the historical moment of this COVID-19 era, but also a production that would challenge our students to examine highly stylized acting. And we knew that we needed to find a way to do all of this while maintaining strict safety protocols. We picked August Strindberg’s ‘The Dance of Death’ because it was a small-cast play, and dealt with themes related to the loneliness and isolation that can come from being alone with the wrong person for a length of time.
“In order to ensure that we had complete control of the end product, we decided that I would undertake the writing of a new version of the play, as opposed to producing any of the existing English language translations of the Swedish play.”
The production features two distinct casts of student actors, providing both acting opportunities and a unique audience experience. In one cast, Tara Wands, Mitchell Kelly, and Christian Becker play Alice, Edgar, and Curt (respectively), while the other cast features Allison Feinstein, Logan Leiphart, and McKayla Cobb. Students Kiera Vinson served as assistant director, while Abby Horst served as director of photography for the video production.
“The Dance of Death” can be streamed for free from Dec. 4-7 at https://www.lycoming.edu/theatreschedule.