Friday, March 24, 2023

Shakespeare Revisited in New Play Ophelia Chooses Opening Wednesday at Zeiders

Zeiders American Dream Theater (The Z) in Town Center under the leadership of Artistic Director Bart Kuebler and Executive Director Terry Flint, is pleased to present a new play Ophelia Chooses by local playwright Buddy White.

Agency. Empowerment. Boundaries. Self-care. This is the language of today. Imagine if Shakespeare’s Ophelia, who perishes along with the rest of them in his opus Hamlet, got a re-do and used these words to set the course of her fate. What path might she choose? That is exactly what Buddy White, local playwright, asks in Ophelia Chooses.

Mr. White wondered what would happen if the love-struck Ophelia, ill-fated lover of Hamlet, had had some notion of her own agency, and zagged instead of zigged; the result is this new piece, developed in The Z’s own American Dreamwrights Workshop. Ophelia encounters a modern-day woman and comes face-to-face with her creator as she makes surprising discoveries about herself, and her own power.

In Z fashion this play has been fully developed from the local talent in the 757. The written material comes straight out of the American Dreamwrights Workshop a forum for emerging dramatic writers to learn from established teachers, to peer-review scripts, to collaborate with fellow writers, to hear their works read, and ultimately to bring their creations to full production. This Workshop is the only program in the nation of its kind. Playwrights of all experience are welcome, do not pay a dime, and have the opportunity for their work to be presented on The Z stage, just like Buddy White. Bart Kuebler underscores, “The Dramatist’s Guild, the professional organization of playwrights in the US, has pointed out that we are doing something unique in American theater—developing plays in-house with local playwrights, from conception through to production.”

Mr. White, a Chesapeake native, has a bachelor’s degree from William & Mary, an MFA in playwriting from SouthernIllinois University at Carbondale, and taught theater at Currituck County High School for 22 years where they named the theater after him upon his retirement. Through his teaching career, he read Hamlet 25 times! He recounts his time in the classroom, “Once the work of translating was finished, the students often remarked on how like we are to Shakespeare’s characters.” When asked what prompted him to write Ophelia Chooses, he replies, “After re-reading a script analysis text that happened to look at all the scenes in Hamlet that featured Ophelia, it struck me that she got a pretty raw deal. My mind took a flight of fancy and the play was born.”

The cast of Ophelia Chooses enjoys that flight to no end. They have been assembled from the talented pool of local actors and include Felicia Fields, Selena Gill, Sibel Galindez, Brad Breckenridge, Miguel Girona, Nick Hauert, TreVeon Porchia, and Patrick Taylor. This troupe of merry players takes the audience on a ride as the play shifts between Shakespeare’s Elizabethan verse and Mr. White’s nimble composition teetering between iambic pentameter and modern vernacular.  The mix of the two makes for a fun, playful comedy far from the tragic tones of Hamlet as we know it.

Mr. White adds what the Dreamwrights Workshop has meant to him, “I have been a theater practitioner for almost 50 years and have been writing plays for over 40.  I have to say that the level of care shown to developing writers and the seriousness towards our plays and processes is nothing short of a godsend. The Z is more than a Dream – it’s a Dream Come True.”


Ophelia Chooses
February 16-19, 2022
Zeiders American Dream Theater, Virginia Beach
Get tickets here

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