April 28, 2005

Possession play to close season

Photo of: Cast members of Vinegar Tom
Cast members of Vinegar Tom
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A cat named Vinegar Tom lends his name to a play about efforts to kill curiosity, intelligence and sexuality in seven women in a 17th century English village in Vinegar Tom, the final production of the season for the Sacramento State department of Theatre and Dance. Sacramento State professor Juanita Rice directs the tale by British playwright Caryl Churchill opening at 8 p.m., Friday, April 29 the University’s Playwrights’ Theatre. Performances continue April 30 to May 1 and May 5 to 8. The production is part of the University’s April Alumni Month activities.

The feline weaves his way through the story as the women are accused of witchcraft and possession by the devil because they are seen as a threat to the mores of the time and place. Poverty, humiliation and prejudice are the background to the tale of the power and pain that comes with charges of consorting with Satan. As hysteria surrounds them, even the women accused begin to doubt their own innocence, believing that they are what they are said to be.

The 1600s setting of Vinegar Tom is made more accessible to a contemporary audience through Rice’s use of irreverent and rebellious modern music. The play includes several songs, and Rice furthers her production’s relevancy by subtle changes to lyrics, updating them to mention modern conflicts faced by African Americans, women, Arabs and Jews. Symbolic costumes covering character’s eyes and mouths is also used to represent the women’s manipulation and silencing.

Tickets are $15 general and $8 for students, seniors and Alumni Association members. They are available from the Sacramento State Ticket Office at (916) 278-4323 or at Tickets.com. Media assistance is available from Sacramento State Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156.

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