Kennesaw State presents “Red Hanrahan”
Performance will feature classic stories by W.B. Yeats
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KENNESAW, Ga. (February 13, 2013) —"Red Hanrahan" tells the compelling story of Ireland's wandering poet touched by magic from his unexpected visit to fairyland. Based on the stories by the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats, "Red Hanrahan" features a yearning for a transcendent world that enchants, charms and haunts the imagination. Presented by the KSU Department of Theatre & Performance Studies, the production features Yeats's stories as adapted for the stage by Professor and Co-Director John Gentile. The performances will run February 19-24 in the Onyx Theater at 8 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday with a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.
Co-Directors Gentile and Instructor Henry Scott use dramatic storytelling to connect the actors to their audiences through both spoken word and dynamic movement. Music also plays an important part in the story and Scott, along with Joseph Pendergrast, created the unique soundscape for the performances. Scott explains that it features "original compositions, traditional Irish folk music, Japanese scales, flute, chimes, singing bowls and a variety of percussive instruments."
"Yeats was dedicated to the serious study of magic and his life-long fascination informs these stories significantly," Gentile explains. "In fact, the character of Hanrahan can be seen as a surrogate for Yeats himself: the poet touched by magic." Under the direction of Gentile, Scott, dialect coach Jan Wikstrom and Professor Ming Chen, set designer for the production, the students participating in "Red Hanrahan" have learned a lot about both Yeats and the Irish culture he depicts in his stories. “Our student actors have obtained the knowledge of Yeats and Irish culture through a careful study and analysis of the script and through experimenting in rehearsal halls," Chen says.
This KSU production of traditional Irish tales is also heavily influenced by Eastern theatre aesthetics, such as Japanese Noh drama. While each member of the production team has a different understanding of Eastern theatre, Chen says, "the result is a collage that juxtaposes different ideas of Eastern aesthetics.” Chen's set design features a mythical Fairy Thorn tree designed in a Celtic knot style and painted on a scrim material. Every Japanese Noh set features a tree in the background, and the scrim material hearkens to Eastern screens. Additional Eastern aesthetic influences are present in the light design, costume design, choreography and musical aspects of “Red Hanrahan.”
In conjunction with the performances of "Red Hanrahan," KSU will also host a lecture by Irish Studies scholar James Pethica on Feb. 21 at 3:30 in the Stillwell Theater. During the free lecture, titled "The Book of the People: Yeats's and Lady Gregory's Collaborations on Folklore," Pethica will explore the ways in which Lady Gregory collaborated with Yeats on the Red Hanrahan tales. Gregory contributed to the tales the distinctive dialect of the characters, and Pethica explains that "Yeats seems to have welcomed her input at the level of plot as well, not just style."
Following the KSU production, 13 members of the “Red Hanrahan” team will travel to Scotland in August to perform at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, giving five performances at the intercultural festival. Students attending the Fringe Festival will showcase their abilities, interact with theatre professionals from around the world, observe international theatre practices and visit historical sites to learn more about Celtic culture and the “Red Hanrahan” tale.
Chen says “Red Hanrahan” is well suited for the Fringe Festival because “it is both interdisciplinary and intercultural and it combines elements from Eastern and Western theatre and cultural conventions on both literal and conceptual levels." KSU theatre students previously traveled to the Fringe Festival in 2007 when the KSU Tellers performed "Beowulf."
For additional information, design images, rehearsal photographs, interviews and more about “Red Hanrahan,” visit the production's dramaturgical website: http://redhanrahanksu.weebly.com.
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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,100 students from more than 130 countries.