UIC Theatre Presents American Take on Russian Farce

The University of Illinois at Chicago Theatre’s second play of the season is based on “The Suicide,” a Russian satire so sharp that Josef Stalin banned it before even a single performance and exiled its author, Nicolai Erdman, to Siberia.

[Note: Photos for download at http://bit.ly/TqGhm5.]

WHAT:
“Dying for It” by Moira Buffini, directed by Timothy Douglas, UIC adjunct lecturer in theatre

WHEN:
Nov. 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 at 7:30 p.m.; Nov. 11, 18 at 2 p.m.; Nov. 14 at noon

WHERE:
UIC Theatre
1044 W. Harrison St.

DETAILS:
Semyon, unemployed and broke, is supported by his wife, and living in a hallway because his mother-in-law has taken over the bedroom. Unable to find a job and shorn of all self-respect, he announces his plan to take his own life.

Word about his impending suicide gets out and he finds himself inundated with sympathetic visitors — all zealots for various causes, begging him to die on their behalf. Their attention boosts Semyon’s self-esteem so much that he reconsiders his suicide. But he’s already set a date, and his supporters are planning a big sendoff.

“The Suicide,” the original version of “Dying for It,” was in rehearsal under Konstantin Stanislavski when Stalin sent his “arbitrators” and cancelled it. Almost 80 years later, playwright Moira Buffini wrote: “Unlike the Russians of the 1920s, we have free speech, we’re not starving…Yet suicide is now the biggest cause of death to men under 35…The play is also about political disillusionment and I think that’s very timely indeed. Most good plays ask the question, ‘How do we live?’ This one goes a step further and asks, ‘Why do we live?'”

Director Timothy Douglas recently directed “Bronte” off-Broadway and “Topdog Underdog” with the Bay Area’s Marin Theatre Company. He has staged more than 100 productions, including the world premiere of August Wilson’s “Radio Golf” at Yale Repertory, “Good Breeding” at the American Conservatory Theater, “In the Blood” at the Guthrie Theater, and “Assassins” at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. He is an artistic associate at Milwaukee Repertory Theater and former associate artistic director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, where he directed three Humana Festival premieres. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.

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