Gibson, Keenan, Rafalski, DeBiase and Johnson star in "Life of Riley"
The Academy Players will present Alan Ayckbourn’s play Life of Riley at the Wien Experimental Theater at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts from Wednesday, Oct. 1 through Saturday, Oct 4 at 8 p.m. The amateur production is free for faculty and students, and $20 for the public. Seating is limited. For tickets, call (203) 254-4010, 1-877-ARTS-396 (toll free) or visit www.quickcenter.com.
George Riley is given a life-threatening diagnosis, just before a group of his friends are about to put on an amateur play (a different Alan Ayckbourn play). What if George is given a part in the play to keep his spirits up? The result reveals how his imminent death affects long-hidden relationships, unmet romantic yearnings and potential betrayals among a disparate group of couples in a quiet English suburb.
The cast includes Dr. Jerelyn Johnson, associate professor of modern languages and literatures; Dr. Dennis Keenan, professor of philosophy; Dr. Donald Gibson, dean of the Charles F. Dolan School of Business; and Dr. Shawn Rafalski, associate professor of mathematics; with Andrea Macadam, Dr. Ania Aksan, associate professor of economics, and Dawn DeBiase, assistant dean of the Dolan School of Business. It is directed by Alistair Highet, director of communications. This is the fourth play the group has produced as part of an ongoing interdisciplinary academic experiment at the University, continuing the project they started with Perpetual Peace (2011), Glengarry Glen Ross (2012), and Way to Heaven (2013).
As with the other productions, students will be attending the public performances as part of their studies, and the play will be discussed in courses in politics, modern languages and literatures, English, communication, nursing, and marriage and family therapy. In effect, the play is an exercise in integrative pedagogy – bringing faculty and students together from a number of disciplines to examine a dimension of their studies, a learning experience made deeply experiential and tangible through the medium of the theater.
Each performance will be followed by a different faculty-led discussion: Oct 1 will feature Dr. Rona Preli, Department of Marriage and Family Therapy; Oct 2, Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, Department of Politics; Oct. 3, Keenan, Department of Philosophy; and on Oct. 4 Dr. Catherine Sumpio, School of Nursing.
“Our goal, always, is to coordinate issues addressed in the plays with courses being taught during the semester in which we produce them, or that might be of general interest to departments and programs of the University,” Dr. Johnson said. “In this way, we model how the humanities serve as a centralizing presence here at Fairfield University.”
Ayckbourn is an Olivier- and Tony Award-winning playwright and one of Britain’s most prolific and admired contemporary playwrights, best know for his satirical comedies about middle class English life, the follies of romance, and the skirmish between the sexes. An inheritor of the traditions of the British drawing room comedy, he marries those conventions and the structures of farce to the rueful exploration of more Chekhovian themes – unrequited love and thwarted ambitions.
The Guardian’s theater critic and Ayckbourn biographer Michael Billington has said of Ayckbourn, his “plays are anything but cozy. They seduce audiences with the promises of sweets, yet they slip them the bitter pill of recognition. And increasingly leave them in a state of prickly discomfort. Ayckbourn gives theatregoers a good night out. But he also leaves them asking themselves, ‘are we really like that?’”
Major successes include Absurd Person Singular (1975), The Norman Conquests trilogy (1973), Bedroom Farce (1975), Just Between Ourselves (1976), A Chorus of Disapproval (1984), Woman in Mind (1985), A Small Family Business (1987), Man of the Moment (1988), House & Garden (1999), and Private Fears in Public Places (2004). His plays have won numerous awards, including seven London Evening Standard Awards.
This amateur production is made possible through the sponsorship of the Humanities Institute, the Charles F. Dolan School of Business, and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs; with special collaboration with the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts; and with the support of the departments of Communication, Economics, English, Marriage & Family Therapy, Modern Languages & Literatures, Philosophy, Politics, Religious Studies, and Sociology & Anthropology; the programs in Peace & Justice Studies, Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, the Honors Program, and Applied Ethics; and the Center for Catholic Studies and the Ignatian Residential College.