English Alternative Theatre is embarking on a new season that will include plays and staged readings that are funny, provocative and maybe even a little bit quirky.
The season opens at 8 p.m. Sept. 3 with an event that has become known as "the Labor Day Special," according to Paul Stephen Lim, founder of English Alternative Theatre and Kansas University English professor. The event will feature English department faculty and those in the acting community delivering staged readings of two new plays about academia.
"We have a lot of hams who love to do a little acting," Lim said of his English department colleagues.
"The Problem" by A.R. Gurney is a comedy about a professor and his wife whose marriage has gone stale and the games they play to keep their marriage alive. "Spinning Into Butter" by Rebecca Gilman is a drama that deals with how academia addresses the issue of political correctness.
Lim said the play created controversy when it opened last year at the Lincoln Center in New York City.
"It's about a dean who is trying to deal with Hispanic and African-American students, and despite her best intentions things blow up because some of the minority students don't care for affirmative action or political correctness," he said.
In mid-October, EAT will stage its entries in the original script competition of the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival: "Running with the Big Dogs" by KU undergraduate Nathan Gonzales and "Mourning Glory" by Kirby Fields, a graduate student in English. Both are one-act plays.
"Running with the Big Dogs" is described as a "bizarre comedy" about some college students whose neighbor complains about the noise they are making. The neighbor comes to visit the students and "all hell breaks loose," Lim said.
"Mourning Glory" is about a man who visits funeral parlors to give comfort to the friends and family members of the deceased.
"The play examines grieving in contemporary society," he said.
The annual "Final Four" competition of one-act plays written by KU students will be at 8 p.m. March 8-10. The plays will come from the students in Lim's playwriting class this fall.
Audiences will vote for the best plays on March 8-9, and then those two selections will vie for the title on March 10.
Lim will get to have some fun on April 1 when his "Fools Dot Com" is staged. The play is about the fools that appear in William Shakespeare's scripts, who seem silly but give wise advice.
"I'll put four or five fools in contemporary situations, where they will have to help lighten up a situation. I'm doing research for it now and will start writing it in the fall," Lim said. "So I will be going through the same process as my students. We'll be struggling alongside each other."