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ANN ARBOR - Equus, Peter Shaffer's modern masterpiece, comes to the Blackbird Theatre this February. Shocking and exhilarating, Equus is a classic psychological drama for our times. A young man undergoes treatment after blinding six horses, and as his story unfolds, everyone around him unravels.
The production will be helmed by Sarah Lucas, in her Blackbird directing debut. After working as stage manager on numerous productions, the Ann Arbor company has shifted her into the director's chair. "Sarah has a great vision, a really dark sensibility," says Artistic Director Barton Bund. "We have wanted to do Equus for years, but for some reason we waited. She came along, and she is the perfect person to direct it."
It's a great show for the space, says Lucas. "It is a very private, intimate, immediate piece. It's psychological, it's spiritual, it's intensely physical, so the Blackbird is a perfect fit."
Bund adds, "The design is really fun. We started with the horse masks. We use wire, cable and other industrial materials. The actors look very 'wired' in the masks. And the set has those same elements: a lot of metal, wire, pipe. Even in the '70s, this play had a lot to say about the role of television in kids' lives. Our world is so over-wired now, so those elements seem to play in, visually."
In handling the play's famous nude scene, Lucas remarks, "It's essential to the show. Nudity is part of what makes it so shocking. But it's also a key part of the story, part of the overall experience."
Nudity, adds Bund, is no big deal to most people. Or so they say. "I think nudity is very shocking when it's part of a live experience. It intensifies everything. No matter how comfortable we are with it in theory, when it comes down to it, you're still in a room with a naked person. And in context of this show, it's pretty wild. The climax of Equus is so insane, and the nudity really pushes a lot of boundaries. It's our kind of thing."
Discount previews begin Feb. 17, 2011 and run through Feb. 20. Preview tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for ages 65 and over and $10 for students.
Regular performances are Feb. 24 through March 19. Tickets are $25 general admission, $20 for ages 65 and over and $15 for students.
Show times for all performances are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2
For tickets or more information, call 734-332 3848 or log on to www.blackbirdtheatre.org.