The University of South Carolina’s Department of Theater and Dance will present the poignant drama Tiny Beautiful Things, based on Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling book, November 12-19 at the Longstreet Theater.
Show time is 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with additional morning performances at 3 p.m. on Saturday October 16 and Sunday October 17. Admission is $ 15 for students, $ 20 for UofSC faculty / staff, military, and those aged 60 and over, and $ 22 for the public. Tickets can be purchased online at sc.universitytickets.com. Longstreet Theater is located at 1300 Greene St. Enter through the back passageway of Sumter St. In accordance with university security protocols, masks will be required from all members of the public, cast and crew, and seats will be limited to allow appropriate social distancing between all bosses.
Reader’s Content Disclaimer: Tiny Beautiful Things is a story about listening and understanding others. The play uses adult language and addresses sensitive topics such as physical / sexual abuse and mortality and is not appropriate for children.
When a struggling writer, author Cheryl Strayed (Wild) spent several years writing a counseling column under the pseudonym “Sugar,” in which she offered truths about everything from dating to family dysfunction. going through deep loss. Strayed collected several of his articles in a bestselling book, which was adapted for the stage in 2016 by Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Tiny Beautiful Things presents Sugar’s unshakeable and very personal take on dilemmas big and small, providing audiences with an uplifting experience that The New York Times has described as “a sustained theatrical exercise in empathy.”
The theater program engaged professional theater artist and educator Maureen Heffernan as guest director for the production. Heffernan brings a lifetime of experience as the director of more than ninety productions in professional theaters across the country, as well as as the artistic director of institutions such as the George Street Playhouse of New Jersey, Delaware. Theater Company and Young Audiences New Jersey. She is currently a faculty member at the College of New Jersey and is part of the arts ensemble at the Florida Repertory Theater, where she has had successful collaborations with UofSC theater professor Jim Hunter in his capacity as set designer and designer. lighting.
âA lot of times when we think of advice columns, we think of newspapers,â Heffernan says of the company Sugar is located in. “However, this is a rich world on the Internet and this is the one she is entering.” The “Dear Sugar” section appeared on the therumpus.net site from 2008 to 2012; Strayed took over the “Sugar” handle in 2010.
This “digital connection,” as Heffernan calls it, between Sugar and those who have asked him for help, is what theater audiences experience in the production. In collaboration with graduate student designers Karl Dickey (stage) and Lawrence Ware (lighting), Heffernan designed an environment that allows the viewer to enter both the “real” world of Sugar and the distant electronic landscape of Internet. It’s a divide, according to Heffernan, that is particularly relevant in these times of a pandemic.
“In some ways this piece is more relevant [now] because so many times we have had to contact these anonymous sources, through our devices, for help. It’s the idea that there is a place where I don’t see you, but I tell you my most intimate stories. “
A set of four actors portray the production’s myriad of writers, taking audiences on a journey that spans a diverse set of issues ranging from the silly and benign to the disturbing and tragic. Through it all, Sugar and the audience have the opportunity to listen, reflect and learn.
âYou have this person who takes that position as a kind of adventure,â Heffernan says, âand then realizes the investment people are making in her. In this she does a reexamination of her own life and comes, like Oprah. would say, the moment ‘what I know for sure’. “
âThe public, Heffernan adds, makes the trip on both sides. At the same time, we’re a fly on the wall but also clinging to what’s going to happen, and I think that’s the charm of the room. . It’s like being in a support group where you show up to hear other people’s stories. “
The production cast is Jennifer Lucas O’Briant, a major in drama and psychology, as Sugar, with letter writers played by students David Alexander, Shakori Jennings-Shuler, Constanza Pinela and Alec Thorn. Instructor Chelsea Retalic (costume) and guest artist Danielle Wilson (sound) join the aforementioned set and lighting designers.
âI hope people will take away from this show that everything in our life sets us up for the next thing in our life,â she says. “We have great wisdom within us, and our collective wisdom is often more powerful than we realize.”
“In a time when so many pettinesses divide us, there is one place which is love, and that is the only real thing we can find – from one human to another.”
For more information on Tiny Beautiful Things or the drama program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or by email at [email protected]