School of Theatre & Dance at UH Raises Curtain on Season of Premieres

New plays are taking center stage at the University of Houston. During the upcoming 2008-2009 season, the UH School of Theatre & Dance will present local debuts and world premieres of works by both rising playwrights and esteemed masters of the craft.

Among the highlights of the season are the world premiere of Nathaniel Freeman's Hurricane Katrina-inspired "Bridges" (Oct. 3), the local debut of Louis Sachar's stage adaptation of his popular children's book "Holes" (Oct. 13) and the Houston opening of Edward Albee's latest production "Peter and Jerry" (Feb. 13).

"We are offering a season that is both accessible and relevant to all our subscribers and friends," said Steven Wallace, director of the UH School of Theatre & Dance. "It's a challenging slate full of vigor, intellect and intensity. As we train the next generation of theater and dance artists, we are conscious of presenting a body of work that we hope will connect artists and audiences across age and ethnicity."

The following five productions are included in the school's subscription series. Subscriptions will go on sale June 2. Tickets for individual productions will be available Sept. 2. For additional details, call 713-743-2929 or visit

  • Oct. 3 - 12, 2008
    "Bridges" by Nathaniel Freeman; Directed by Steven Wallace, World Premiere
    Presented in collaboration with UH's Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, this world premiere production focuses on the oral histories of Hurricane Katrina survivors who were stranded on the Interstate Highway 10 overpass after their neighborhood was decimated. The script was adapted from interviews gathered as part of the UH Surviving Rita & Katrina Project.
  • Nov. 7 - 23, 2008
    "Metamorphoses" by Mary Zimmerman; Directed by Jack Young, Houston Premiere
    Zimmerman's stunning adaptation of some of Roman poet Ovid's humorous, heartbreaking myths is set in and around a large pool. An ensemble cast depicts the transformations that define the human experience. Created at Northwestern University, "Metamorphoses" was produced at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, the Seattle Repertory Theatre and the Berkeley Stage Company before moving to Broadway's Circle in the Square Theatre in 2002. That year, Zimmerman earned a Tony Award for Best Direction for this play.
  • Feb. 13 - 22, 2009
    "Peter and Jerry" by Edward Albee; Directed by Sidney Berger, Houston Premiere
    Award-winning playwright and former UH professor Albee dazzled audiences with the provocative "A Zoo Story," which detailed a Central Park meeting between Peter, a publishing executive, and Jerry, a disturbed young man. That play was written 50 years ago. In 2008, Albee added a first act to this classic titled "Homelife," which details Peter's marriage and the events leading up to his meeting with Jerry. Paired together as "Peter and Jerry," the combined works will be presented here for the first time after their New York debut.
  • Feb. 20 - March 1, 2009
    "bobrauschenbergamerica" by Charles L. Mee; Directed by Kim Weild, Houston Premiere
    The artwork of Robert Rauschenberg has long intrigued and challenged art aficionados. This imaginative production explores the American landscape through a creative lens that is very much inspired by the recently departed artist. Not unlike his unique "combine" paintings, the play melds a host of diverse characters, settings, music, dancing and stories.
  • April 3 - April 19, 2009
    "Buy 1 Get 5 Free" by Amy Lanasa; Guest Director, Houston Premiere
    What do you do when your sister is a convict, your momma can't kick her bingo habit and your husband is still missing from your honeymoon skydiving trip two years ago? Lock yourself in your trailer, of course. This comedy farce is by up-and-coming playwright Lanasa, winner of the Best Short Play Award at the 2001 Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival.

In addition to the subscription series, the School of Theatre & Dance will debut its new Theatre for Young Audiences program with a production that will run during the week for school children:

  • Oct. 13 - 24, 2008
    Theatre for Young Audiences presents
    "Holes" by Louis Sachar; directed by Jackie deMontmollin, Houston Premiere

    Adapted from Sachar's book and the film of the same name, "Holes" tells the story of Stanley Yelnats, a young man sentenced to hard labor in West Texas for a crime he did not commit. Between dodging poisonous yellow-spotted lizards and trying to play nice with other inmates, he finds himself unraveling a century-old mystery.

The school will continue to develop new work for dance and theatre with these annual offerings:

  • Nov. 22 - 23, 2008
    Emerging Choreographers Showcase
    The creative energies of up-and-coming choreographers are showcased in this annual concert that has become a favorite among dance enthusiasts.
  • April 24 - 26, 2009
    Spring Dance Concert
    Dance aficionados look forward to this annual show featuring contemporary works by faculty and guest artists that is set on the pre-professional dance company, the UH Dance Ensemble.
  • April 30 - May 3, 2009
    New Play Festival
    The New Play Festival offers Houstonians a chance to hear the city's freshest theater. Tomorrow's star scribes develop scripts under the supervision of Tony winner Mark Medoff and present them during intimate readings.

Each season the School of Theatre & Dance produces five plays performed in the Wortham Theatre and the Jose Quintero Theatre, two dance concerts, student productions, the New Play Festival, the Houston Shakespeare Festival and the Children's Theatre Festival. The school has benefitted from notable star faculty such as Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Sir Peter Hall and Jose Quintero. Among current faculty are Houston Shakespeare Festival founder Sidney Berger, Tony Award-winning playwright Medoff and Tony Award-winning producer Stuart Ostrow.

For details on UH's School of Theatre & Dance, visit

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas' premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students. For more information about UH, visit the university's Newsroom at