GMU Players to Present ‘Hay Fever’

Posted: February 6, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

The GMU Players will bring one of Noel Coward’s most popular and beloved comedies to the stage this spring as part of the company’s Studio Series. Coward’s quirky “Hay Fever” will be performed at Black Box in the Performing Arts Building on Mason’s Fairfax Campus Feb. 12-14 at 8 p.m. and Feb. 14-15 at 2 p.m.

“Hay Fever” introduces audiences to the eccentric Bliss family, British bohemians who have retreated to their country home in hopes of finding love, inspiration and wholeness.

Judith, the mother, is a retired actress who makes a crisis out of every scene. David, the father, is a novelist. Their daughter and son, Sorel and Simon, are both handsome and ill mannered.

One weekend, each member of the family announces that he or she is expecting a guest. Judith invites a young athlete who is in love with her; David, a flapper (whom he is studying for his novel); Sorel, a diplomat; and Simon, an intense young woman.

The family’s self-centered and outlandish behavior, which is normal to them, bewilders the uncomfortable guests. The Blisses become so engaged in a family row that they do not notice their guests’ swift departure.

While this play is a comedy, Coward also introduces a discourse about the character of the artist – should one adapt to society and risk sacrificing his or her own uniqueness, or nurture his or her quirks and risk isolating oneself from other people?

“It’s clear that many characters in ‘Hay Fever’ would ‘rather cultivate their artistic temperament’ than deal with their demons,” says Director Andrew Hawkins, a senior majoring in theater and English.

First produced in 1925, “Hay Fever” debuted with British actress Marie Tempest as Judith Bliss, and was an enormous hit on the West End Stage.

The play has been revived countless times around the world, featuring many celebrated actors, including Edith Evans, Maggie Smith, Lynn Redgrave, Judi Dench, Rosemary Harris, Sam Waterston and Ian McKellan. A major new revival of “Hay Fever” in April 2009 will feature Diana Rigg as Judith and Simon Williams as David.

The GMU Players is a dynamic faculty-directed student organization within the Theater Department.

Director Hawkins was the assistant director for last year’s production of “Humble Boy” and appeared on stage in last fall’s “The Pillowman” and “Dog Sees God.” Hawkins is also a playwright and is working on his second full-length play with Theater of the First Amendment’s mentorship program.

Tickets are $6; $3 for students, seniors and Mason faculty and staff. A limited number of free tickets are available for Mason students.

Tickets may be purchased at the door one hour prior to the performance. To purchase tickets by phone, contact the Center for the Arts Box Office at 703-993-8888. For information on group sales, call Kimberly Schall at 703-993-8600.

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