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Play Takes Satirical View of Media Coverage in Time of ‘Tragedy’

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Michael Cleveland (left), as Michael the Legal Advisor, and Brad Hennigan, as Frank in the Studio, star in the UT Dallas theater production Tragedy: A Tragedy, which opens Thursday.  

Will the sun rise again?

In UT Dallas’ latest theater production, Tragedy: A Tragedy, it looks unlikely, but, regardless, a news team is on the story.

A display of witty satire in the face of Armageddon, the play takes the form of a local TV newscast covering nightfall. It takes aim at the media in an age of “geopolitical uncertainty, pending disaster and a preoccupation with ratings,” according to the play's billing.

What begins as a parody, however, eventually breaks down into an exploration of the endurance of humanity during catastrophe. 

“The ‘newslessness’ of the 24-hour networks are familiar, a pleasant, hollow, echoing drone reflecting our age of hyper-communication, self-awareness, pomposity, consumerism, insatiable sensationalism and confessionals,” said Thomas Riccio, who is directing the play. 

University Theatre Directions

Access to the University Theatre is limited because of construction. Directions to the venue can be found online. A temporary walkway leading to the University Theatre has been constructed and can be accessed from the second floor of  the Erik Jonsson Academic Center from the doorway that faces south.

“In this satire, the absurdity of the news faces off with the banality of modern life — a life that recedes a little bit more with each technologically mediated embrace. It takes more and more to awaken and hold us, to keep us alive,” said Riccio, professor of performance and aesthetic studies in the School of Arts and Humanities.

Tragedy: A Tragedy premiered in April 2001 at the Gate Theatre in London and was penned by American playwright Will Eno. The UT Dallas version of the play will feature both former and current students. 

“I have been attracted to Eno’s work for some time, admiring his writing, sense of humor, ideas and theatricality. In our super-mediated era, with a Niagara flow of images, memes, and the merging of entertainment and news, the performed and the real, presenting this play seems timely,” said Riccio, who was recently named as one of Dallas’ top “100 Creatives” by the Dallas Observer.

Performances will be held in the University Theatre at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week and next. General admission tickets are $15, and can be purchased online. Admission for students, faculty and staff is free with a valid Comet Card. On Thursday nights, admission is free for everyone.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

Tagged: A&H