Consumerism, Technology Among Themes in UH Production of 'Now This'


Houston audiences soon will take a trip to the not-so-quiet town of Purple Mountain. Here, they'll meet troubled teen Joey Adderall. Joey has a number of things driving him to desperation including pregnant girlfriend Amy Clearblue, obsessive-compulsive mother Purelle Swiffer, distant father Matt Soloflex and his roommate's pit bull Oswald.

Joey does what many Americans do during a time of stress. He heads straight for the mall, but shopping is the last thing on his mind.

Theater-goers will find out what happens during that mall stop at the world premiere of Scott Kaiser's "Now This." Presented by the University of Houston's School of Theatre & Dance, the play runs April 15- 24. Tickets are $20, $15 for UH faculty, staff and alumni and $10 for students and seniors. Show dates and times are as follows.

  • 8 p.m., April 15, 16, 19, 20, 22, 23
  • 2 p.m., April 17, 23, 24

"It's inspired by ‘Our Town' and Dylan Thomas' ‘Under Milk Wood,'" said director Sara Becker, UH assistant professor of voice and Shakespeare. "It's very contemporary and has a political resonance. I'm excited about it because it explores how society deals with technology and consumerism in our lives."

Kaiser is the director of company development and head of voice and text at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). He developed "Now This" at OSF's Black Swan Lab and created a script that relies on very specific language. Becker describes it as poetic and non-realistic yet very accessible. Whether audiences' tastes lean toward the Bard or Jay-Z, the language of "Now This" will have a wide appeal, she said

"Because we're not using casual, realistic speech in this play, the actors are drawing on their Shakespeare training. Like one of Shakespeare's works, this play allows actors to focus on the form of the language," Becker said. "Audience members can connect with it in this play in the same way they connect with contemporary music such as hip-hop. Just as hip-hop has puns, internal rhymes and is very clever, this language has the same richness and texture."

"Now This" showcases a large student cast playing 62 different characters (some which are non-human) and will feature multimedia projections onstage. Because the work is so fresh, Becker and the actors are able to work alongside Kaiser in its creative development.

"When you're working on a new play, you're a pioneer," she said. "When you're working on an established work, you question why that play is important and how you can make it fresh. A brand new play allows the cast to break new ground and deliver something entirely unique to the audience."