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Thursday, February 28, 2013

EVENT: The Comedy of Oedipus @ Weber State University Department of Performing Arts (Browning Center for the Performing Arts: March 22-23, 26-30)

The Comedy of Oedipus: You’re the One Who Killed the Beast
Who:         Weber State University Department of Performing Arts
What:         The Comedy of Oedipus, by Ali Salim, directed by Jennifer A. Kokai
When:         March 22-23, 26-30 • 7:30 p.m. • 2:00 pmmatinee: March 30 
                American Sign Language interpretation, March 23 
Where:         Eccles Theater, Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts

Weber State University Department of Performing Arts presents “The Comedy of Oedipus,” by Ali Salim and directed by Jennifer A. Kokai; in the Eccles Theater, Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts, March 22-23, 26-30 at 7:30 p.m. with a 2:00 pm matinee March 30. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided on Saturday, March 23. There will be a curtain talk immediately following the Thursday, March 28th performance.

Ali Salim (born 1936) is an Egyptian playwright, author, and political commentator. He steals back the setting of the Oedipus legend, along with the Sphinx, and comically uses the fact that there was a Thebes in both Egypt and in Greece. The play was written as a commentary on Gamal Abdul Nasser’s (1918-1970) Egypt and that nation’s worship and dependence on him. Salim calls on the audience to end the cult of personality and the reliance upon a Leader that keeps the population in a state of childlike dependence. 
Oedipus, in Salim’s play, is a miracle worker, compressing five thousand years of technological history into a few years but neglecting to control the repressive social/political apparatus that remains in the hands of the police chief Awalih and his corrupt cronies in religion and the bureaucracy (priesthood and university). The play is able to teach and entertain at the same time, using the time honored tool: humor. 

Director Kokai says , “Ali Salim’s The Comedy of Oedipus is one of my ‘bucket list’ shows. It’s a show I’ve wanted to do for the last decade and I have waited for the right opportunity. Unfortunately, Middle Eastern plays are rarely done in the United States, and as far as we know this is the first time Salem’s play has been done in English. It has been a once in a lifetime experience for the students, designers, and me to get to work on this complicated satire. This is a play that asks big questions about politics, technology, society, and democracy. Given the ongoing events in Egypt and the recent election in the U.S. it seemed like a good time for us to ask ourselves and our audiences those questions as well.

“Those who come in expecting the Greek tragedy Oedipus will be in for a big surprise, but will leave having seen puppets, dancing, an epic battle, and hopefully with some deeper thoughts about what the ‘beasts’ are we grapple with in our society. We encourage audiences to come see a play from a great contemporary Egyptian intellectual, something few folks can ever say they’ve done.” 
Graduating senior, Kelsey Nichols - a recent two-time winner at KCACTF in design, is finishing off her last year at WSU by designing the costumes. Her fanciful creations make use of Pharaonic Egyptian designs, high-tech fabric and a steam-punk sensibility. Austin Hull is charged with creating a monumental space in the small Eccles Theater, a task he completes with clever ingenuity. 

Tickets are $12 and $9 for all shows and are available in advance at Dee Events Center Tickets, the Browning Center Box Office, 1-801-626-7000 or weberstatetickets.com or at the Browning Center Box Office beginning one hour before the performance. 

For more information about the play, contact director Jennifer Kokai, jenniferkokai@weber.edu

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