UToledo School of Visual and Performing Arts

UT Theatre & Film production of ORPHEUS opens Friday, October 12

UT production of Orpheus runs October 12-14, 17-21Day of the Dead theme lends brilliant color to Cocteau’s darkly comic play, “Orpheus”

When the University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film season opens on Friday, October 12 with Jean Cocteau’s darkly comic play “Orpheus,” it will do so in surprisingly brilliant color. Director Jessica Bonenfant and costume designer Erica Frank have chosen to use a Dia de los Muertos (Day-of-the-Dead) aesthetic to represent the invitation of the dead into the world of the living.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Orpheus (Jeffrey Burden, II) and Eurydice (Keely-Rain Battle)

“Orpheus” is Cocteau’s surrealist reworking of the classical myth. Orpheus, a poet, makes an impossible deal with Death to rescue his love, Eurydice, from the underworld: he promises never to look upon her again.  A mirror serves as portal between life and death, and movement between the realms is characterized by distinct shifts in color, costume and atmosphere.  Cocteau also explores contact with the spirit-world by adding a table rapping horse to the mix.

“The play takes place in the liminal space between magic and reality, where anything can happen,” says Jessica Bonenfant, creative director of Lola Lola Dance Theatre in New York, who is the guest director for the UT production of “Orpheus.”

Both Bonenfant and Frank were intrigued by Frida Kahlo de Rivera, known for her self-portraits and her colorful clothing. Her style as well as traditional Day–of-the-Dead celebrations have served as a kind of muse for the costume design. Flowers, elaborate grave decorations, lavish costumes, food and festivities traditionally mark the Mexican Day of the Dead, similar to All Souls Day, which remembers loved ones who died during the year.

In the play, Death – a young woman adorned with pink flowers, ribbons and paint, visits the living world. “The costuming, skeletons and funeral flowers associated with Day of the Dead are the perfect way for her to fit into and hide out in our world while also being very ethereal,” says Frank.

Bonenfant adds that Frank’s design reflects the fact that “Cocteau’s work uses surrealism to alter the audience’s perceptions of time and reality, yet maintains a narrative that is easy to follow.”

About Jessica Bonenfant

Jessica Bonenfant has been the Creative Director of Brooklyn based Lola Lola Dance Theatre since 2003.  Her work, a blend of movement, text and striking imagery, has been seen across the U.S. in a variety of traditional and site-specific spaces, as well as on film.  She has created five-evening length works for her company, and is currently developing the sixth, a performance-as-research project presented in installments at Brooklyn’s Micro Museum, ShapeShifter Lab, and the Itinerant Performance Art Festival at Grace Exhibition Space.  This past spring, the project received a stipend and space grant from the National Endowment for the Arts via Chashama’s Windows program, which supported a five-day storefront performance installation in New York City’sGarment District.  This year, Jessica has also choreographed a music video and stage show for singer Charlene Kaye, and her band The Brilliant Eyes.

Jessica has been an artist-in-residence at The Field, The Silo and most recently at Performing Arts Forum in St. Erme,France. As a dance scholar, her research was presented at the 2011 Congress on Research in Dance conference.  She is a certified yoga teacher and a member of CDP/NYC, a group that practices performance improvisation grounded in Buddhist philosophy.  She holds an MFA in choreography from University of Michigan and a BA in dance from Marymount Manhattan College.   Jessica has taught dance technique, composition and improvisation courses at University of Michigan, where she recently set a work for the 17-member Freshman Touring Company.  She has also guest taught at University of Toledo, where she choreographed numerous theatrical productions.  More information is available at http://lolalola.org/

About Erica Frank

Erica Frank is a costume designer of theatre, film, TV and music videos.  She most recently was the designer on the feature film The Firstling, and assistant designer on the 20th Century film The Watch. Additionally she was specialty costume crafter for Revolution, a new feature television series on NBC, which opens September 2012, and was the Tailor/Set Costumer on the 2011 feature film, The Hunger Games.  After completing her BFA at Parsons, she opened a designer shop in New York.  She soon found much of her work was gravitating from fashion design to theatre design and specialty craft services for Manhattan’s theatre industry.  She has spent the last six years in Los Angeles working in the theatre, film, and television industry.  Her unique craft skills, fantasy designs, and familiarity with east and west coast markets makes her an asset to our theatre, film and video production program.  She also has an MFA in costume design with California Institute of the Arts.

Erica’s work can be viewed at http://ericafrank.blogspot.com/ or at http://www.ericafrankdesign.com/


TICKETS  Play tickets are $12–General Public, $10–Faculty, Staff, Alumni & Seniors, and $7–Students.

DISCOUNTS Student members of fraternities or sororities, who wear their letters or show their membership card at the box office, can get a “Go Greek” discount of $2 off their ticket. Offer good only at the Box Office. A Season Ticket or a Season Flex Pass is 15% off the price of four individual tickets purchased separately.  A Season Ticket provides one seat to the opening night performance of each of the four plays. The opening night seat can be exchanged for another performance of the play, if the BoxOffice is notified in advance.  A Season Flex Pass provides 4 tickets that can be used in any combination throughout the season. The Season Tickets are available through October 12 and Flex Passes are available all season.

Tickets are available*:
Online: utoledo.edu/BoxOffice
By Phone: 419.530.2375
At the Center for Performing Arts Box Office:
Towerview W & W Rocket Blvd, UT Main Campus
*All major credit cards are accepted (AMEX, DISC, MC, VISA), UT Rocket Cards are accepted at the CPA Box Office ticket window only.

“Orpheus,” written by Jean Cocteau and translated by John Savacool from THE INFERNAL MACHINE AND OTHER PLAYS, copyright ©1963, is presented with permission from New Directions Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

is Promotions Specialist, College of Arts and Letters, The University of Toledo
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