MATAWAN By Dan Caffrey Comes to Oscar G. Brockett Theatre

The University of Texas at Austin Department of Theatre and Dance presents Matawan by Dan Caffrey, October 10-21, 2018 at the Oscar G. Brockett Theatre.

In the summer of 1916, a series of fatal shark attacks terrorized the New Jersey Shore. Further inland, a polio epidemic plagued Philadelphia, while the cloud of World War I loomed over the Nation. As the forces of nature, disease and war close in, characters who struggle to change must face a creature whose evolution has led to millions of years of survival. Spanning several cities, the infinite depths of the ocean and the point of view of the shark herself, Matawan examines how our internal anxieties are often just as terrifying as our national catastrophes.

"At its heart, Matawan is a play about fear," shares director Alice Stanley. "These fears manifest in different ways - the polio epidemic, the threat of World War I, the rapid progress of industrialization...yet they almost never manifest as fear of the shark, which turns out the be the primary threat to many of the characters. Their efforts to gain control and avoid other terrors drives them into the water, where they meet their end. So much of the conflict in our world today stems from having these anxieties and by exploring the essence of fear theatrically, we hope to shine a light on how much of our lives are actually dictated by it."

Director Alice Stanley is a playwright, director and founder of Cohesion Theatre Company in Baltimore, MD. Stanley won Best Director from Baltimore City Paper's "Best of Baltimore" (2016), The Bad Oracle and DC Metro Theatre Arts and received the Mayor's Individual Artist Award. They were featured in The New York Times and USA Today for their work on a grunge-era, gender-bending production of Hamlet. Stanley's full-length play, Sally McCoy was originally produced by Cohesion Theatre Company where it was nominated for a Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, and will be produced this fall by The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA.

"We, as humans, tend to be dismissive of an animal's instincts and behavior when, in reality, they often function at a much higher level than we do," explains playwright Dan Caffrey. "A shark does not act on fear; it acts on instinct. In this underwater world, we see a being that is entirely willing to adapt and do whatever is needed in order to survive. This piece explores fear as a universal human emotion and looks at how current political, international and health concerns shape our everyday existence."

Dan Caffrey is a M.F.A. in Playwriting candidate at The University of Texas at Austin. Prior to moving to Austin, Caffrey was in Chicago where his work was produced by various companies, including The Ruckus, the side project theatre company and Tympanic Theatre where he served as the artistic director from 2007 to 2015. His original play, Matawan, was a finalist for the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference (2013) and premiered at Chicago's Athenaeum Theatre (2015). He has also written for The A.V. Club, Pitchfork, Vox and Consequence of Sound, where he co-hosts The Losers' Club: A Stephen King Podcast.

Matawan features an all-star cast of University of Texas at Austin students, including Emily Garcia (Old Blue), Christian Scheller (Dr. Eugene Vansant), Juleeane Villareal (Louisa Vansant), Devin Ramirez (Charles Vansant), Shahil Bhutani (Robert Engle), Jayla Ball (Charles Bruder), Brooks Laney (Watson Stanley Fisher), Grace Bohn (Luella Stillwell), Cat Palacious (Lester Stillwell), Shane Colwell (Captain Cottrell), Kyle Cordova (George Burlew), Khali Sykes (Mary Anderson) and Guinevere Govea, as well as an acting ensemble, including Rebecca East, Anapaula Guajardo, Shannon Homan and Morgan Riddle, and a movement ensemble featuring Alexadra Armbruster, Kialond Bronson-Smith, Kathleen Marie Guerrero, Nick Saldivar, Paola Montserrat Santibanez, Carlie Schoultz, Tori Schulze and Azari Sumbler.

The production's creative team includes Dan Caffrey (Playwright), Alice Stanley (Director), Zoe Anderson (Scenic Designer), Scott Bussey (Technical Director), Laura Epperson (Community Engagement Lead), Stephanie Fisher (Costume Designer), Helen Hetrick (Stage Manager), Isaac Iskra (Choregrapher), Qi Jiajing (Lighting Designer), Sam Lipman (Sound Designer and Composer), Adam Miller-Batteau (Fight and Intimacy Director), Kirstin Perkins (Dramaturg), Jake Stein (Sound Engineer) and Mingxiang Ya (Projection Designer).

For more information about Matawan, please visit JoinTheDrama.org

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