Rep to stage the unconventional 'Serpent'

Rep to stage the unconventional 'Serpent'

"The Serpent" cast member Kami Cooper poses with an apple. The Nebraska Repertory Theatre production opens Nov. 3.
John Ficenec | Nebraska Repertory Theatre
"The Serpent" cast member Kami Cooper poses with an apple. The Nebraska Repertory Theatre production opens Nov. 3.

The Nebraska Repertory Theatre's 2017-18 season continued with “The Serpent” Nov. 3-19 in the Temple Building.

Directed by Wesley Broulik, assistant professor of practice, the production is a contemporary improvisation of the Book of Genesis. The story relates to modern times in a way that has earned it recognition as a milestone of American drama.

The production opens at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 3 in the Temple Building’s Studio Theatre.

Individual tickets are $24 general admission and $12 for students and members of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Advance tickets are available through the Lied Center for Performing Arts box office online or by calling 402-472-4747.

“The Serpent” is a work of choreographed movement, pantomime, human sounds and music made by bells, horns, whistles, tambourines and other hand-held instruments. Written by Jean-Claude van Itallie, the production was described as more of a “ceremony” than a play when it opened in Rome in 1968.

“A lot of time has passed between 1968 and 2017,” Broulik said. “And our definition of what is avant-garde or what is groundbreaking and pushes the envelope has changed. And theatre has changed, as it should. So approaching a piece like this we can do two things. We can treat it as a museum piece and try to do what they did, or we can find our own way.

“What we’re doing is finding our own way. So it is still a ceremony, but not in the way they defined it. It’s not a traditional theater piece.”

Cameron Currie, a sophomore theatre performance major, plays the Heron and is one of the trio that plays God.

“I would describe ‘The Serpent’ as being something of an exploration of the past and the greatest tragedies,” he said. “Each time we run the show, we, as an ensemble, explore with each other in slightly different ways. Describing this play as more of a ceremony is not too far off from our interpretation of the script because there are definitely elements of prayer and ritual that are already in the script, as well as some elements that we’ve added to the production.”

The production is directed by Morgan Barbour, an actor, aerialist, model, movement director and writer based in London, England. Barbour is also teaching this semester in the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film.

“The Serpent” ensemble includes Alejandro Alarcon, Travis Banks, Emily Raine Blythe, Kami Cooper, Currie, Beck Damron, Michaella Deladia, Candace Nelson, Kate Schini, Arin Turnage, Jesse Turos, Lynn Twarowski and Michael Zavodny. Barbour is a guest performer.

Designers are J.D. Madsen (scenic), Kathleen Turner (lighting), Emily Callahan (sound) and Heather M. Striebel (costumes). The production is stage managed by Shannon Humiston.

Performances of “The Serpent” are Nov. 3, 10-11 and 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 5, 12 and 19 at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre.

No late seating will be allowed and doors will close at curtain time. The production contains mature themes and may not be suitable for all audience members.