• Cast members rehearse “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” for the Bulgarian premiere of "Durang, Durang."
    Cast members rehearse “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” for the Bulgarian premiere of "Durang, Durang."

Two theatre professors from Southwestern University are helping bring the works of an award-winning American playwright to audiences in Bulgaria.

Rick Roemer, chair and artistic director of the Theatre Department, and Desi Roybal, associate professor of theatre and resident scenic designer, are working with the Rhodopean Drama Theatre on the Bulgarian premiere of “Durang, Durang” by Tony Award-winning playwright Christopher Durang.

The project began in the summer of 2008 when Roemer did a workshop of Durang’s “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” at the Rhodophi International Theatre Laboratory with some of Bulgaria’s top actors. “For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls” is Durang’s loving satire on Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” Roemer received a Cullen grant from Southwestern in 2008 to bring an American comic playwright voice to Bulgarian audiences to see if the comedy would translate to another culture. Roemer quickly learned that Durang’s outrageous voice not only translates, but resonates, in Bulgaria. 

“Because most Bulgarians are very familiar with Williams and his plays, they were able to fully appreciate the satire and embraced the comic vision of Durang,” Roemer said.

The artistic director of the Rhodopean Drama Theatre then approached Roemer about returning to the theatre and opening their 2009-2010 season with more Durang. Roybal was also hired to design the scenery and lights for the production. The two were awarded a fall sabbatical to direct and design this project.

The other plays in “Durang, Durang” are “Mrs. Sorkin,” the lovely hostess who opens the show and gives a convoluted (and hysterical) talk about the nature of theater; “A Stye of the Eye,” Durang’s wicked satire of Sam Shepard’s plays “A Lie of the Mind” and “Fool For Love”; and Durang’s biting satire of psychology and dysfunctional families called “‘dentity Crisis.”

Rehearsals began Aug. 24 and “Durang, Durang” will premiere at the Rhodopean Drama Theatre in Smolyan, Bulgaria on Thursday, Oct. 1. The opening night performance will be broadcast live around the world on the Internet and will be projected on a big screen at Southwestern that day from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Olin 105.  (Note: The performance will be in Bulgarian).  

After a run in Smolyan, the play will tour Bulgaria and then remain in the repertory of the Rhodopean Drama Theatre.


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