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Department of Drama investigates identity and illusion

Pirandello’s absurdist classic speaks to contemporary politics, culture, and student life

Photo by Travis Hatt

Luigi Pirandello may not be a household name to most, but in the theatre world he is as important as Bertolt Brecht and Samuel Beckett. In Italy, where Pirandello lived and worked for his entire life (1867 – 1936), he is celebrated as one of the foremost writers in the country’s history. In addition to writing about 40 plays, Pirandello's work also includes novels and hundreds of short stories, and he was a recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1934.

On Dec. 2, the School of Creative and Performing Arts will open an eight-day run of Pirandello’s groundbreaking Six Characters in Search of an Author. With wit and illogical progression, this inventive production examines the nature of illusion and reality. A vital and contemporary interpretation of the classic play, the theatre’s sacred “fourth wall” is broken when six characters appear at a rehearsal and plead for the chance to tell their stories.

Directed by SCPA faculty Val Campbell, with a full cast and crew of UCalgary students, staff and faculty, Six Characters in Search of an Author is anticipated to be the highlight of the 2016-17 drama season. "This is a rare opportunity to see Pirandello’s provocative and groundbreaking play written almost 100 years ago,” says Campbell.

Pirandello’s absurdist, political themes continue to turn heads and spark discussion decades after they were first performed. “This play is extremely important today, because Pirandello continuously questions the role of identity in society,” says April Viczko, drama chair and set and costume designer. “In addition to their cultural and political weight, these questions of ‘who am I?’ and ‘who will I become?’ resonate profoundly with the university student experience.”

Six Characters in Search of an Author runs from Dec. 2-10 at the Reeve Theatre. The closing night of this timely production will mark the 80th anniversary of Pirandello’s death.

Tickets can be purchased via scpa.ucalgary.ca. Discounted rates are available for all UCalgary staff and students.