Rarely seen on North Texas stages, The Classics Theatre Project brings audiences an opportunity to experience an intensely intimate and provocative production of Eugene O'Neill's THE HAIRY APE: A COMEDY OF ANCIENT AND MODERN LIFE IN EIGHT SCENES, October 13-November 6 at The Core Theatre in Richardson. As one of America's greatest and most pivotal playwrights, Eugene O'Neill's work helped shape American theatre and this, one of his earliest plays, established the power of theatre's use of artistry to shine a harsh and honest light on issues of social relevance. Adapted and directed by the company's artistic director, Joey Folsom, with an original score created and performed live by Braden Socia and Petra Milano, the ensemble cast tackles O'Neill's take on expressionism in this work that directly challenges the underlying rags-to-riches mythology of America and powerfully examines the effects of alienation in the modern world.
Considered explosive and revolutionary in 1922, Eugene O'Neill's blending of expressionism and naturalism in THE HAIRY APE went on to stay at the core of the then developing style of American theatre. Through his simplification of characters and events in the play, its deeper truths about the search for self-worth, self-pride, and social belonging take center stage. In eight scenes, the story unfolds of anti-hero Yank, a strong and unthinking stoker on a ship. He feels secure of his place and in his power to make the ship move until he is called a filthy beast by the overbred daughter of a steel merchant. Yank experiences an awakening of consciousness that leads him off his ship and on a journey through both the wealthy neighborhoods and disenfranchised underbelly of New York, only to find he does not belong anywhere – not with the socialites on 5th Avenue, or the laborers on the waterfront. Throughout his search for belonging, Yank only experiences the dehumanizing effects of a modernized and industrialized world and his mental state disintegrates into its most primal until, ultimately, he is defeated by the very thing inside himself he had been fighting all along, a filthy ape.
Since The Classics Theatre Project's return to live performances in June, Dallas' only independent performing arts organization dedicated solely to producing classic works has shown audiences just how much of a good time can be had with a classic through its Shakespeare under the stars experience of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, and just how hilarious a classic can be with its mounting of Molière's precursor to the modern farce, THE IMAGINARY INVALID. Now, the group sets its sights on demonstrating just how achingly relevant a classic can remain. It is a unique opportunity for audiences and one that will be bringing both the theatre faithful and newcomers to the American theatrical canon to Richardson.
The Classics Theatre Project is a 501 (c)3 performing arts organization with a mission to produce relevant classic works to enrich the culture of the North Texas community.