An ancient tragedy reconceived, Charles Mee’s “Big Love” is not about little things. This comedic, gymnastic, sensual, shocking, redemptive story follows one of 50 sisters who takes refuge in a sumptuous Italian villa to escape marriage contracts. More sisters follow, and jilted grooms eventually arrive via helicopter armed for the marriage war. What unfolds is a surprisingly astonishing adventure, part circus and part love story, that bravely traverses the expansive terrain of fable, myth, MGM musical and, yes, Greek tragedy. New York City-based guest artist Matthew Earnest, who has been noted in the New York Times for his “spare eloquent work,” directs the production.
Written by American playwright Charles Mee and first performed in 2000, “Big Love” is a modern adaptation of Aeschylus’ Greek tragedy “The Suppliants” (470 BC). Fifty sister brides flee to an Italian villa to escape arranged marriage contracts with their fifty cousins. The comedic, gymnastic, sensual, shocking and redemptive story involves topics of refugees, gender politics, love and violence as the expectant grooms seek to fulfill their pacts.
Guest director Matthew Earnest crafts the production for the CCU stage. Earnest is founding artistic director of New York City’s deep ellem ensemble and has directed plays, operas, musicals, and his own original works and literary adaptations on stages in New York, Canada, and across the United States. Earnest directed the CCU production of “Blood Wedding” in 2014 and has a longstanding professional relationship with Monica Bell, CCU associate professor and chair of the Department of Theatre, and John Woodson, CCU visiting assistant professor in the Department of Theatre.
“’Big Love’ seems like an ideal project for me to be working on here,” said Earnest. “In a very theatrical and fun way, it shows us that we haven’t changed much since Aeschylus wrote ‘The Suppliants.’ This notion of ‘the past as present’ is very personal for me, in that it mirrors my relationship with Monica Bell and John Woodson. It’s incredible to see their influence on this generation of creative and hard-working theater artists at CCU.”
The CCU student cast includes Nikko Smith as Lydia; Amani Huell as Olympia; Grainger Russell as Thyona; Sarah Parker as Bella; Bailey Foard as Eleanor; Zach Montou as Giuliano; J.P. McLaurin as Piero; Dalton Hedrick as Constantine; Drake King as Oed; Gavin Carnahan as Nikos; Noah Pelty as Leo; Emily Calabrese, Kiarra Donnelly, Katie Hudson, Quinn Jones, Mary Kate Korbisch, Sydney Janelle Laribo, Syndey Lee, Autumn McNutt, Kat Stoneback, and Keondra Walker as brides; and Jalil Bonds, Gable Harkins, Kaleb Jenkins, Ivan Jermyn, Terrell Jones, Carson Matte, Devante Owens, Bryce Ridley-Williams, Hank Santos and Benjamin Southerland as grooms.
“’Big Love’ is a beautiful piece, and it’s a nice marriage of material with directing from [Earnest’s] artistic point of view,” said Bell. “It’s an invitation for these young artists to contribute everything they know. They take risks with Mathew. He stretches their understanding of theater making, and their level of involvement is incredibly rich when they work with him.”
General admission is $17. Senior citizens, OLLI members, CCU alumni, teens and CCU/HGTC faculty and staff are $12. CCU/HGTC students can purchase tickets for $5.
For tickets or more information, call the Wheelwright Box Office at 843-349-ARTS (2787) or email email@example.com. The box office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 108 Spadoni Park Circle on the Conway campus. Tickets can also be purchased at ticketereturn.com.
The Myrtle Beach Education Center is located at 900 79th Ave. N.
This production contains content that may be inappropriate for children. Parental discretion is advised.
Presented by: Department of Theatre
$17 (discounts available)
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