MTSU Theatre students are inviting local audiences to join the adventures of the young refugee “Anon(ymous)” as he searches for home when they bring playwright Naomi Iizuka’s reimagining of “The Odyssey” to Tucker Theatre Feb. 17-20.
Guided by new Department of Theatre and Dance chair Tiffany Trent, curtain times are 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 17-19, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20, at the theatre, located inside MTSU’s Boutwell Dramatic Arts Auditorium at 615 Champion Way.
Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for K-12 students. MTSU students, faculty and staff can attend free by presenting a current university ID at the Tucker Theater box office.
Guests are encouraged to wear masks and follow social distancing measures inside Tucker Theatre. The venue is fully accessible for people with disabilities, including those with hearing, vision and mobility impairments.
“Even with all the different genres (of plays) we produce, our shows are often very realistic,” explains Trent, who joined MTSU last fall from the University of Chicago. “We’re very excited about the imagery in this play, for our scenic, sound, costume and lighting designers to create and show it, and for our ensemble and the audience to experience.
“I always expect students to bring their gifts into the room, and I’ve certainly been delighted by the skills that the students have — their skills in music, design, script analysis, stage management and in literally every area. I’ve been delighted by the manifestation of the training they’ve been getting from the faculty.”
‘Finding what home means’
“Anon(ymous),” first performed in 2006, tells a new version of Homer’s epic poem “The Odyssey.” In the original 8th century BCE story, the Trojan war hero Odysseus is beset with nearly every obstacle imaginable as he tries to get home to his beloved wife and son.
Iizuka’s update adds a 21st-century understanding to the quest, following young Anon, who’s been separated from his mother, as he ventures across the United States, meeting foes and friends alike and trying to use his memories and his story to find home again.
“It’s very much a coming-of-age play, which fits undergraduates really well,” says Trent. “It’s also about finding what home means and the people who make home feel like home and give us a sense of belonging.
“Those themes really matter to me as well, especially working with college students and with younger students in theater as I have over the years.”
Trent earned her bachelor’s degree in politics, economics, rhetoric and law at Chicago, then followed it with a Master of Fine Arts in directing from Carnegie Mellon, a Master of Divinity degree from Chicago Theological Seminary and a doctorate in theater for youth from Arizona State. She has incorporated projects on race, class, gender, childhood and faith into a career of theater and performance studies and how the arts connect to citizenship, self and culture.
Her cast for “Anon(ymous),” several of whom are portraying two different characters, includes:
• Freshman Alexandra Aguilar of Brentwood, Tennessee, who’s earning double majors in political science and communication studies, in the dual roles of Nasreen and Belen.
• Senior theatre major Lyndarious Arrington of Antioch, Tennessee, in the title role.
• Freshman theatre major Moira Cagle of Murfreesboro in the roles of Calista and the Nice American Daughter.
• Sophomore Christopher Cooper of Fairview, Tennessee, a theatre education major, in the roles of Senator Laius and the Nice American Father.
• Fall 2021 MTSU English graduate V. Taylor Davis, a Dickson, Tennessee, native, in the role of Serza.
• Paloma Diaz of Murfreesboro, a senior theatre major, as Nemasani, Anon’s mother.
• Senior theatre major Max Fleischhacker of Knoxville, Tennessee, as Ali.
• Kate Hollyfield, a senior theatre major from Jonesborough, Tennessee, as Helen Laius and the Nice American Mother.
• Freshman biology major Alexandra Jobe of Nashville as Ritu.
• Brian Jones, a senior theatre major from Chicago, as Ignacio.
• Sophomore theatre major Naomi Laurent of La Vergne, Tennessee, who portrays Mr. Zyclo’s Pet Bird.
• Carson Loving, a sophomore video and film production major from Smyrna, Tennessee, as Mr. Zyclo.
• Senior biology major Alexis Mosely of Winchester, Tennessee, as Naja.
• Taye Smith, a sophomore from Memphis, as Pascal.
• Senior theatre major Alex White of Columbia, Tennessee, who’s in the dual roles of Mr. Yuri Mackus and Strygal.
• The annual MTSU Theatre 6×10: 10-Minute Play Festival, set March 24-27.
• “Fun Home,” Lisa Kron’s Tony-winning and Pulitzer Prize-nominated musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, set April 7-10.
For more details, visit www.mtsu.edu/theatreanddance/currentseason.php.
For more information about MTSU’s Department of Theatre and Dance in the College of Liberal Arts, visit www.mtsu.edu/theatreanddance. For details on MTSU Arts events and supporting its student programs in the Patrons Society, visit www.mtsu.edu/mtsuarts.
— Gina E. Fann (firstname.lastname@example.org)