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A spirit that is not afraid

University Theatre presents "The America Play"

The Auburn University Theatre Department is famous for tackling innovative material. Their current production, "The America Play" by Suzan-Lori Parks is no exception.

TIME Magazine said of Parks' work, "Her dislocating stage devices, stark but poetic language and fiercely idiosyncratic images transform her work into something haunting and marvelous."

"I hope that everyone who comes to see The America Play leaves wanting to discuss the work," said Director Heather May.

"The America Play" is set in a theme park, The Great Hole of History, which was created by an African-American gravedigger known as "The Foundling Father."

The play follows his journey to discover his place in history as he makes a living imitating Abraham Lincoln.

"There is absolutely no "right" interpretation of this play, and I hope that all who attend are willing to set aside an obsession with finding one plot line/narrative to follow to make sense of it, and are rather willing to sit back and let the play work on them subconsciously," May said. "To enjoy it, as it is actually a very funny play, and then to try and process it after the fact. I would love for audiences to mull over the images they say and the repeated phrases and to enjoy the process of making sense out of something that is not immediately clear."

May said the 200th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth and the election of the first black president make this the perfect time for this play.

"I can't really think of a better time to do this play," May said. "I also think that it is a perfect play in a university setting since it questions the process by which we disseminate and retrieve information and the ways this process affect our long-term views of our nation and our world."

May said the Auburn Theatre Department is "lucky" to have visiting artist A.K. Murtadha, an award-winning actor to play the role of the Foundling Father.

"He is breathtaking onstage, and audience response to him, as well as to student actors who have really risen to his level, has been phenomenal," May said.

Theatre students enjoy the chance to gain real insight from professional actors.

"My favorite part of this show has been getting to know A.K. and just getting to interact with a professional actor," said Jenise Velez, House Manager for the Telfair Pete Theatre and a junior in theatre. "I feel like I've gained a lot of insight just being around him. He's very inspirational. It's been a honor just working with him."

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