The Purdue University North Central Theatre and Festival Players Guild will present an Elizabethan double-header of two seldom-staged plays, “Tamburlaine” and “Galatea,” on Saturday April 11 at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, April 12 at 3 p.m., Friday April 17 at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday April 18 at 7:30 p.m., at Mainstreet Theater, 807 Franklin St., Michigan City.
Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students with a valid ID. Tickets may be reserved by calling (219) 874-4269 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
This show combines two entertaining and completely different plays, “Tamburlaine” by Christopher Marlowe and “Galatea” by John Lyly. Both are compressed into a two-hour whirlwind of the extremes of Elizabethan theater.
Director Paul Hecht, PNC associate professor of English, explained why two plays will be presented in one performance, “I found ‘Galatea’ as I was working on a book about Shakespeare’s Rosalind and reading around in the history of Elizabethan theatre. I thought it was a tremendously subversive play and so funny, I knew I wanted to try to stage it.
“But I also thought that if I’m going to ask students and audiences to deal with a play from Shakespeare’s time that’s not by Shakespeare, I might as well do two as one. If you’re skeptical that any 400-year-old English playwrights are worth reading or seeing other than Shakespeare, I might as well make two arguments at the same time. Here we have it, Marlowe’s thundering line, the poetic and linguistic grandeur of ‘Tamburlaine’ and more cross-dressing, gender-bending antics than you could believe would fit in one play with ‘Galatea’ (along with some very funny bit roles by an Alchemist and Astronomer and a Puck-like Cupid). If you start getting sick of one, don’t worry, it’s just an hour long and then you’ll see something completely different!”
“Tamburlaine” depicts the world-conquering adventures of a real historical figure who was famous among Europeans for having defeated Turkish forces and delaying the conquest of southern Europe. The production emphasizes the affinities of Tamburlaine’s story with the American Dream.
Tamburlaine begins as a shepherd, who believes he is destined to become the king of Persia and conquer the surrounding lands. Through bold and poetic speeches and grand battles, Tamburlaine gains power over those kings and emperors who had earlier brushed him off as unthreatening. As he becomes more powerful he finds his limits tested. Soon Tamburlaine finds that he must go to any length in order to achieve his victory.
“Galatea” is a comedy of mistaken identities and love found in unexpected places. The characters are faced with a deadly custom: every five years, the fairest and chastest maiden in the land must be bound to a tree and sacrificed to a sea monster as a peace offering to the sea god Neptune.
Unsurprisingly the fathers of Galatea and Phillida, the two girls deemed to be the fairest, are not happy about this. To protect their daughters, the men decide separately to disguise their daughters as boys and send them into the woods in attempt to trick the gods. Meanwhile, the gods are playing tricks of their own that lead further to confusion and dispute, all of which leads to a strange and surprising resolution.
The plays feature a large cast of PNC students, including some who have appeared in such performances as Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in April 2013, and “Henry IV, Part 1” in 2012. Senior Jeremy Harris, of Michigan City, stars as Tamburlaine. In all other cases cast members play at least two parts, some as many as five. Elizabethan playwrights enjoyed writing for large casts, so playing more than one role was the norm. This provides novice actors the opportunity to work on more than one part and more advanced actors have room to show off their skills.
Cast members are Aram Arden, La Porte; Angela Barreto, New Carlisle; Aaron Collings, La Porte; Cameron Fehland, La Porte; Jeremy Harris, Michigan City; Lamesha Harris, Chesterton; Jacob Hibbard, Chesterton; Kristen Hixon, Michigan City; Colin Janiszewski, Valparaiso; Eileen Long, Michigan City; Katelyn Mosher, Michigan City; Lillianna Pollnow, Michigan City; Kaitlin Richter, Valparaiso; Charles Trott, La Porte; Holly Trott, La Porte; Alexis Ulrich, Chesterton; Nathan Upchurch, Knox; Alice Wasick, Michigan City.