Fairfield University presents North American Premiere of "Perpetual Peace"
(Posted on September 13, 2011)
By Juan Mayorga, award-winning Spanish playwright
October 5-8, 2011, at 8 p.m.
The Wien Experimental Theatre
The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
Three dogs - Emmanuel, Odin, and John-John - awake to find themselves in a strange and dark holding pen. There, they will be invited by a dog in charge (Casius) to compete with one another for "the collar," a coveted job in the elite K-7 unit of the state anti-terrorism service. But what are they willing to do, how far are they willing to go, to get the job?
That is the scenario in Perpetual Peace, the award-winning play by Juan Mayorga, one of the Spain's most celebrated and provocative contemporary playwrights. Fairfield University's Department of Modern Languages, in collaboration with the University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, will present the North American premiere of Perpetual Peace in a new translation by Fairfield University's Dr. Jerelyn Johnson, assistant professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, at 8 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, October 5 through October 8, 2011. Performances take place inside The Wien Experimental Theatre at Fairfield University's Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, in Fairfield, CT. Tickets are $20; free for students with ID.
The play explores the question of whether or not the state's use of physical coercion and torture is justified in circumstances where the knowledge gained by its use could prevent a terrorist incident - an issue that has been intensely debated worldwide following the events of Sept. 11, 2011, particularly in the United States, which permitted "waterboarding" in the interrogation of detainees.
"The play is not so much about terrorism," Juan Mayorga has been quoted as saying, "but rather about what measures its enemies can or cannot take to fight against it." What the state may have to do in order to protect the stability of the state - and whether in doing so, the essential values of civilization are corrupted in the process - is a "serious debate," Mayorga has said, "that produces anxiety."
"What makes the play accessible, at times funny and poignant, is that these are dogs trying to figure these problems out," said Alistair Highet, the play's director. "They struggle with the philosophical issues, but fundamentally, they are driven by their feelings and passions. In a way, these dogs are purer in heart and in their intentions than most humans are. They are innocents caught up in dangerous world over which they have no control - and we are kind of like that too."
Several departments on campus are collaborating with this play through an academic engagement initiative. Each night, a different professor will introduce the play, then lead a post-performance discussion in the Wien Experimental Theatre with members of the play's production team, in which audience members are invited to participate. The schedule is as follows: Wednesday, October 5th, Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, Department of Politics and the Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program; Thursday, October 6th, Dr. Marcie Patton, Chair of the Department of Politics; Friday, October 7th, Dr. Joy Gordon and Dr. Steve Bayne (Chair), Department of Philosophy; Saturday, October 8th, Dr. Paul Lakeland, Department of Religious Studies and Director of the Center for Catholic Studies.
"Given the multiplicity of issues that are raised by the play, each evening's presentation will be organized around a different intellectual approach, so the focus of each professor's presentation and discussion will be shaped by his or her particular area of interest, thus allowing the audience to view the play through the framework of a series of specific questions," said Dr. Jerelyn Johnson.
Juan Mayorga was born in Madrid in 1965, and is one of Spain's most prominent contemporary playwrights. He studied philosophy in Munster, Paris, and Berlin, and received his Doctorate in Philosophy in 1997. He has taught mathematics, and has also taught playwriting at RESAD (Madrid's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art), and has directed the seminar "Memory and Thought in Contemporary Theatre" at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). His awards include the Premio Nacional de Teatro in 2007, the Max Award for Best Author in 2006, 2008, and 2009, and the Valle-Inclan Prize in 2008 for Perpetual Peace.
His other plays include Love Letters to Stalin (1998), Himmelweg (2002) and Darwin's Turtle (2008). His work has been translated into 16 different languages, and presented in over 20 countries.
Many of Mayorga's plays examine the conflict between the personal and the political. An English language production of Himmelweg re-titled as Way to Heaven and staged by Equilicuá Producciones at The Spanish Repertory Theatre in New York in 2009 was a New York Times "Critic's Pick." Based on a true story, the play was described by the Times as a "spare, eloquent work" that dramatized a true story about "the sham Jewish settlement at Theresienstadt, or Terezin, in what is now the Czech Republic, set up by the Nazis to persuade observers that Jews were held in humane conditions."
The production of Perpetual Peace is a collaboration between Fairfield University staff and faculty and the Bethlehem, Connecticut-based Actor's Nucleus theater company.
The cast includes Dr. Dennis Keenan (department of philosophy), Dr. Donald Gibson (Dean of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business), and Kelly Briney, Richard Rivas, Melora Mennesson, and Kevin Thornton (all from the Actor's Nucleus). It was translated by Dr. Jerelyn Johnson, professor of Spanish, directed by Alistair Highet, the University's director of communications, with production assistance from Martha Milcarek, assistant vice president for brand management and public relations.
The play is sponsored by Fairfield University's Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Departments of Philosophy and Politics, the International Studies Program, the Peace and Justice Studies Program, and the Office of Academic Affairs, and is part of Fairfield University's Global Citizenship initiative.
Tickets are available through the Quick Center Box Office: (203) 254-4010, or toll-free 1-877-ARTS-396 (1-877-278-7396). Tickets can also be purchased online at fairfield.edu/quick.
The Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts is located on the campus of Fairfield University at 1073 North Benson Road in Fairfield, Connecticut. Entrance to the Quick Center is through the Barlow Road gate at 200 Barlow Road. Free, secure parking is available. Access for people with disabilities is available throughout the Quick Center for audience members and performers. Hearing amplification devices are available upon request at the Box Office. Fairfield University is located off exit 22 of Interstate-95. For further information and directions, call (203) 254-4010 or 1-877-278-7396, or visit fairfield.edu/quick.
Images: top) Perpetual Peace cast and production team, pictured clockwise from top: director Alistair Highet, Melora Mennesson (the Human), Dennis Keenan (Emmanuel), Kelly Briney (John-John) and translator, Dr. Jerelyn Johnson; bottom) Perpetual Peace.
Media Contact: Martha Milcarek, Asst. Vice President for Public Relations, (203) 254-4190
Vol. 44, No. 39