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Duke Theater Studies Brings Life To The War Of BAD ROADS

Duke Theater Studies Brings Life To The War Of BAD ROADS

For Duke University's spring mainstage production, Theater Studies professor Jody McAuliffe directs Bad Roads, new documentary theater work from Ukrainian playwright Natal'ya Vorozhbit, in its first U.S. production, opening April 4th.

Bad Roads, a compelling and bitterly comic account of what it is to be a woman in wartime, premiered in 2017 at the Royal Court in London. In 2014, fighting broke out in the Donbass region of Ukraine between the Ukrainian military and separatist forces aided by Russia and backed up by Russian army units. Based on documentary material gathered by Vorozhbit in the Donbass, the play explores the brutal effects of conflict on personal relationships, or "sex under siege", as the play's translator, Sasha Dugdale, calls it. This war continues to this day, disrupting any expectations of normal life.

McAuliffe is an award-winning director, writer, adapter, dramaturg, translator, scholar and teacher whose artistic work has been seen across the country, and was recently a resident artist at Abrons Art Center, New York, where she adapted and directed Don DeLillo's The Body Artist. McAuliffe chose to engage with Bad Roads because on seeing the premiere in London, "the play hit me like a brick, and I was struck by the focus of the story on young women. I was determined that our students should experience this unique playwright, her artistic sensibility, and the remarkable theatrical world she has created."

In Vorozhbit's play, "teenagers sleep with the garrisoned soldiers because it makes their drab, war-torn lives more glamorous. A paramedic drives the body of her soldier-lover along wild, bad roads to his wife. The most harrowing of all is the portrayal of the relationship between a hostage-taker and his female victim, which moves unnervingly between sadism, abuse and something approaching human warmth." ( Student cast members in Duke's production have worked closely with professional fight director and intimacy coach Jeff Jones in order to safely approach the sometimes disturbing material.

The Duke Theater Studies production features the following undergraduates in the cast: Sophie Tan, Kaylin Woodward , Delaney Dryfoos, Valerie Muensterman, Darya Andreichenko, Samantha Votzke, and Jinny Yoon. Acknowledging the play's focus on women in war, McAuliffe cast seven women to perform all fifteen roles in the challenging script.

For dates and ticket information, please visit

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