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Performances of 'Spunk' to be Held at Barber Theatre Feb. 15-24

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February 5, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- The resilience of the human spirit links the trio of tales with music featured in Tony Award-winning playwright and director George C. Wolfe's stage production "Spunk," playing at Northwestern University in February. The show's characters persevere by their wit, willpower, tenacity and love.

"Spunk" is Wolfe's adaptation of three short stories written by renowned folklorist, anthropologist and novelist Zora Neale Hurston. The production blends dance movement with music and the spoken word to bring Hurston's tales to life and showcase the rhythms and color of African-American speech and life.

Performances of "Spunk" will take place at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17; 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20; 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24, at the Ethel M. Barber Theatre, 30 Arts Circle Drive, on Northwestern University's Evanston campus.

In honor of author Hurston, and in conjunction with Northwestern's celebration of Black History Month and Northwestern's Theatre and Interpretation Center's production of "Spunk" (Feb. 15-24), the University's Theatre and Interpretation Center and Women's Center will honor local women who have overcome adversity in their personal lives and made a difference in the community. The honorees will be recognized during a special pre-show reception and ceremony prior to the 2 p.m. performance of "Spunk" on Sunday, Feb. 17 that is open to the public.

"Spunk" features music by Chic Street Man, a Seattle-based urban acoustic folk blues singer, guitarist and songwriter.

The Northwestern stage production will be directed by Anthony ("Tony") Horne, a visiting assistant professor of performance studies at the University's School of Communication.

"When I first saw 'Spunk' many years ago I was immediately drawn to the way it blended movement and music to "theatricalize" stories by one of the true treasures of 20th century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston," said Horne.

Horne was intrigued by the play's use of the rich traditions of "Delta blues" (a kind of American folk music that developed from black spirituals and work songs and became popular in the 1900s) and "vaudeville blues" (a more citified and theatrical form of blues that followed and was performed on stage by women) to create a musical vocabulary that is personified by the show's two main characters -- Guitar Man and Blues Speak Woman. "It provided a beautiful means of linking the tales together by fluidly transporting the audience to various locales and time periods," he said.

In the first story, "Sweat," a washerwoman who is abused and betrayed by her husband ultimately triumphs over him. The second piece, 'Story in Harlem Slang' is told in 1940s "Harlemese." It is the tale of two street lotharios trying to out-hustle each other and win the favor of -- and a meal from -- a domestic on her pay day afternoon off. The third tale, "The Gilded Six Bits," is a bittersweet story of an adoring husband's betrayal by his loving, but innocent wife. A multi-ethnic ensemble of Northwestern University student storytellers, led by the play's two main characters, will perform the tales in tribute to the enduring genius of Hurston's work.

Single tickets to "Spunk" are $25 for the general public; $22 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for full-time students with IDs. To order tickets by phone, call (847) 491-7282. For online information about "Spunk" visit http://www.tic.northwestern.edu/season.php.

To listen to a preview of the song "Git to the Git" from "Spunk" visit http://jabba.at.northwestern.edu/podcasting/events/2008/01/spunk.mp3.
Topics: Campus Life