International Playhouse returns for its 15th season

Sarah Deicke as La Ragazza Mela (The Apple-Girl) directed by Giulia Centineo. Photo courtesy of Giulia Centineo.
Michael Geyer as Crocodile Ghena in Cherburashka and Crocodile Ghena, Russian, directed by Natalya Samokhina. Photo by Philippe Cailloux.

UC Santa Cruz’s International Playhouse, an annual program of short theater pieces staged in different languages by students in the university’s Language Program, is back for its lively 15th season.

Language lecturer Miriam Ellis planted the seeds for the playhouse in 1972 when she started offering a program of theater and music in French at UCSC.

Now, the many fans of this program can get ready for another round of full-staged pieces.

Four public performances will be held on May 14,15,16,17, at 8 PM at the Stevenson Event Center at the UC Santa Cruz campus. This will include works in French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish, with English super-titles. All pieces, in all five languages, will be performed every night. The program will be directed by Language lecturers. There is no admission charge, with nearby parking available for $4.

This year's works include: in French, The Gap by Eugène Ionesco, and a scene from The Would-Be Gentleman by Molière, directed by Miriam Ellis;  in Italian, Brother ATM and Serendipity, by Stefano  Benni, directed by Giulia Centineo; in Japanese, Sweet Poison, a traditional piece, directed by Sakae Fujita; in Russian, The Patient, by Serguey  Dovlatov, directed by Natalya Samokhina;  in Spanish, Miseria, by Ricardo Güiraldes, directed by Marta Navarro.

The pieces range in time from medieval and classical periods to modern-day theater, with emphasis on their comic elements.  The Playhouse puts a special emphasis on liveliness, humor, dramatic impact, and authenticity. “Through its diversity, we try to demonstrate the similarity of human experience in different cultures,” Ellis said.

Over the years, the International Playhouse presentations have attracted a loyal following. Many community members, as well as faculty and students from high schools and Cabrillo College, attend regularly. The English titles make the material easily accessible to audiences, who are afforded a rare multicultural experience by the diversity of the programs.

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