“We’re all on the same journey together. So we should wave to each other as we pass,” director Gaye Jeffers says of the themes of Middletown, a new play by Will Eno being presented at the Ward Theatre in UTC’s Fine Arts Center April 9-13.The show runs April 9-13 at 7:30 p.m. with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $10 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at the Fine Arts Center’s box office, phone number (423) 425-4269, or online at www.tickettracks.com.
Jeffers’ approach to the play reflects the charm and humor that embodies this intellectually engaging play. Witty banter, profound and quirky, abounds in Middletown, winner of the Horton Foote Prize. This prize is only one of the many awards that playwright Will Eno has collected over the past few years. Other awards include the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Oppenheimer Award and it was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Middletown has been produced by the Vineyard Theatre in New York and Steppenwolf in Chicago. UTC Theatre Company’s production will be one the first University productions of Middletown.
“We are all newcomers, visitors and tourists of one sort or another,” Jeffers remarks. “One of my favorite lines in the play states that ‘just because we don’t look like pilgrims doesn’t mean we’re not pilgrims.’ To me, this sums up the play. We are all on a journey, traveling to a holy place.”
Middletown is, in some ways, a tribute to Thornton Wilder’s classic play “Our Town.” The difference: instead of looking microscopically at small town America, Eno gives us a telescopic look at our place in the world. Middletown is neither quaint nor homespun, but it is still America.
“It’s important for our students to be doing works by current playwrights,” says head of UTC Theatre Department Mac Smotherman, who is also acting in the play. “Our audience also wants to keep up with the latest and best. Will Eno certainly is one of the best playwrights out there today. He gives the actors such great language to dig into—and to have fun with.”
Middletown is populated with iconic characters from today’s America. Besides Smotherman, the cast includes: Madeleine Young, Grace Holtz, Kaleb Moran, Austin Blackburn, Nicole Pavol, Charlotte Grater, Kinnawa Kaitibi, Maggie McNulty, Mario Hoyle, Rebecca Rouse, Megan Cobb, Gregory Jackson, Troy Jensen, Kristina Lumm, Jordan Coleman, Garrett Henson, Kimberly Skoda, Erin England, Gaby Dixon, Trevor Miles, Mariah Driver and John Nichols.