Ionesco’s absurd plays performed and discussed

Tina Howe
Pulitzer Prize finalist Tina Howe will be an NAU playwright-in-residence during the productions of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano and The Lesson. Photo by Susan Johann

Break-out sessions
with Tina Howe

NAU playwright-in-residence Tina Howe, translator of the upcoming Eugene Ionesco’s plays performed by NAU Theater, will hold free discussions on campus.

Howe, who has served on the council of the Dramatists Guild since 1990, is a voting member for the Tony Awards. She is a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and a longtime visiting professor at Hunter College.

Howe’s most recent play Chasing Manet opened at Primary Stages in New York City earlier this month.

“Having a playwright of Tina Howe’s reputation and experience is a coup d’état for NAU,” said Kathleen McGeever, theater chair and director of the plays. “Her lengthy, successful career with the professional theater is a tremendous gift to not only our theater majors but to the entire NAU campus and community of Flagstaff.”

Howe’s awards include an Obie Award for distinguished playwriting, an Outer Circle Critics Award, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award, the William Inge Award for Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre and the Sidney Kingsley Award.

In addition to Howe’s session following the opening-night performances of The Bald Soprano and The Lesson on April 17, catch up with her:

  • 3:45 to 5 p.m. April 14, “Translation Seminar,” Riles building, room 203
  • 5 to 6 p.m. April 15, “So…You want to write plays?”, the Studio Theatre
  • 9:35 to 10:50 a.m. April 16, “Absurdism in the Ionesco Plays,” Babbitt Academic Annex, room 112
  • 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. April 16, “Women in Theatre,” Social and Behavioral Sciences West, room 103
  • 10 to 11:30 a.m. April 17, book signing and morning reception, the Studio Theatre

Two plays by the “father of the absurd,” Eugéne Ionesco, will be performed by NAU students, translated into new versions by Pulitzer Prize finalist Tina Howe and directed by theater department chair Kathleen M. McGeever.

NAU Theater’s productions of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano and The Lesson will be at 8 p.m. April 17, 18, 22, 23, 24 and 25, and at 2 p.m. April 19 at the Clifford E. White Theatre.

Howe, who will be an NAU playwright-in-residence during the production, will conduct campus workshops on playwriting and theater and a question-and-answer session following opening-night performances.

The Bald Soprano revolves around the Smiths, a quintessential British middle-class family, their housekeeper, guests and a fire chief resolute to extinguish all fires, including those from personal hearths.

The Lesson demonstrates Ionesco’s comic genius as insanity and farce collide when a professor becomes progressively frustrated with his desolate student.

Tickets are $7 for students, $11 for faculty, staff and seniors, and $12 for the public and are available through the NAU Central Ticket Office at (928) 523-5661.