The Deep Dish Theater Company opened its 2009-2010 season with Summer and Smoke, Tennessee Williams’ stirring drama of romantic yearning. Directed by Deep Dish Resident Director Tony Lea, the play ends its run September 19 at the company’s home in Chapel Hill’s University Mall.
Set in 1916 Mississippi, Summer and Smoke is one of Williams’ most beautiful and haunting works. Katja Hill, who has appeared in a number of Deep Dish productions including Arms and the Man, Polish Joke, and The Misanthrope, plays Alma Winemiller, a soulful young woman in love with the gifted and hard-living John Buchanan, Jr. (Eric Swenson). As these two very different people struggle to come to terms with each other and with themselves, we see their story against the background of an entire community, filled with Williams’ characteristically memorable creations.
"All of these characters are so rich in complexity that they are a joy for the actors to explore," noted director Tony Lea. "I’m particularly proud of the way the actors are inhabiting them honestly and simply, letting us glimpse the whole spectrum of our human condition, from our loftiest moments to our most selfish, self-indulgent ones."
Eric Swenson appeared in the Deep Dish productions of The Good Person of Setzuan and The Exonerated. Other Deep Dish veterans in the cast include Marcia Edmundson, Barbara Lang, Thom Gradisher, while Stephen Wall, John Boni, Beverly Scheiman, Aaron Dunlap, Christina Perez, Erin Stoneking, and Roberto Bricchi are appearing with the theater for the first time.
Director Lea has staged many of Deep Dish’s most memorable productions, beginning with The Game of Love and Chance and including A Moon for the Misbegotten, The Exonerated, and most recently, The Clean House. Later this year he will return to direct Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband. Elsewhere, his directing credits include Sweet Bird of Youth for Theatre in the Park and The Notebooks of Trigorin, Williams’ rewrite of Chekhov’s The Seagull, at Raleigh Ensemble Players, as well as an acclaimed production of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men.
The design team for Summer and Smoke includes Derrick Ivey (sets), Elizabeth Grimes-Droessler (lights), Devra Thomas (props), Marc Maximov (sound), Lynda Clark (costumes), Wes Schultz (vocal coach), and Marie Jost (choreography). Kit Wienert is composing incidental music for the production. Danny Tauber is the technical director and Rachel S. Zielinski is the stage manager.
The production will feature two post-performance discussions. Sunday, September 6, the cast and audience will discuss the play and Southern Literature. On Thursday, September 10, the design team will gather to discuss the technical development of the production.
Friday, September 4, dramaturg John Harris will introduce playgoers to Williams and Summer and Smoke in the lobby before the performance. And a discussion of Carson McCullers’s acclaimed novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, will be held on Thursday, September 17 at 6:30 in Tyndall Galleries.
Deep Dish is located in Chapel Hill's University Mall, on Estes Drive and US 15-501. Ticket prices and showtimes are: Wednesday and Thursday (7:30 p.m. curtain) – $16 adults, $14 seniors, $12 students; and Friday-Sunday (8:00 p.m. curtain on Friday and Saturday, 2:00 p.m. Sunday matinee) – $18 adults, $16 seniors, $14 students.
The Deep Dish box office in University Mall is open Wednesday-Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Tickets can also be ordered by visiting www.deepdishtheater.org or by calling 919/968-1515.
For more information, call (919) 968-1515 or visit the Deep Dish website at www.deepdishtheater.org.
Photos by Lisa Marie Albert
Christina Perez and Eric Swenson
Eric Swenson and Katja Hill