The UCSB Theater/Dance Presents VANITY FAIR

UCSB's Department of Theater and Dance present Vanity Fair, a play based on the classic 1848 novel of the same name by William Makepeace Thackery and adapted for the stage with a modern twist by playwright Kate Hamill. Directed by UCSB's Thomas Whitaker, Vanity Fair is a tale of misadventures, friendship, and morally questionable acts, and will be staged between November 9th and November 18th in the Performing Arts Theater.

Kate Hamill's Vanity Fair first premiered in New York last year, and the Department of Theater and Dance is the second theatrical company to produce the play. The New York Times called the show "a gift to actors and a goody bag for audiences" and the Wall Street Journal claimed it was "a masterpiece of creative compression that is at once arrestingly original and faithful to its source material."

Vanity Fair is the story of two young women attempting to navigate English society during the Napoleonic Wars. It follows the best friends for fifteen years as they traverse through a society that is often pitted against them at every turn. The plot is driven by two strong female characters: Becky Sharp, a cunningly ambitious woman who attempts to claw her way from poverty to the top of the English social ladder, and the virtuous, wealthy Amelia Sedley, whom befriends Becky at finishing school. While Amelia, ever naive and kind-hearted, attempts to follow the conventional path laid out for her, Becky is relentless in her quest for social and financial gain and recognizes the ways in which she must fight to get to the top of a society that cares little for a women's existence outside of the men around her.

The story is decidedly amoral, full of outrageous characters and the hysterically atrocious acts they commit. "In Vanity Fair the characters are often sinning as sinned against," director Thomas Whitaker explains. "As the wheel of fortune turns, we see that the inhabitants of Vanity Fair are fallible indeed: self-serving, weak willed, deceptive, and sometimes priggish. Yet in the end they are human, as we are. It is easy to sit in judgment, but if we ask ourselves what we want, and what we are willing to do to get it, we may in the end see on stage something of our own reflection."

Vanity Fair could not be more relevant, with much of the play highlighting feminist themes and the aching difficulties of attempting to succeed as a woman in a man's world. Playwright Kate Hamill, notable for her work in adapting other pieces of classic literature into modern, successful pieces for the stage, noted that roughly 80 percent of the dialogue was her own and 20 percent Thackery's. The play explodes with energy, and her work has created an accessible, relatable, and funny production, with a captivating plot and even more enrapturing larger themes.

See how these themes of amorality, femininity, and friendship burst to life in this outrageously hilarious, moving, and thought provoking new play, with UCSB's production of Vanity Fair.

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