The University of South Carolina’s Theatre South Carolina will stage Thornton Wilder’s classic comedy, The Skin of Our Teeth, Feb. 20 – March 1 at Drayton Hall.
Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets will be available at the Longstreet box office beginning Feb. 13 at 12:30 p.m. and at the Drayton Hall box office Feb. 20, two hours before every show. Tickets are $16 for the public, $14 for military personnel and University of South Carolina faculty and staff and senior citizens (age 60+) and $10 for students.
Directed by visiting professor of acting Robert Richmond, the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy chronicles the Antrobus family, from the dawn of mankind to the eve of destruction. As the heroes survive history’s calamities, Wilder reminds the audience that mankind has essentially remained unchanged throughout history, always escaping catastrophe by the skin of our teeth.
The comedy in three acts premiered on Broadway in 1942, less than a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Antrobus family, in all its absurdity and frailty, serves the play as symbols of humanity and its struggles, both external and from within.
Given our nation’s present economic disaster, the message of ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ is very timely indeed, Richmond said. The spine of the play seems to be the resilience of the American nuclear family, which I believe Wilder thinks will survive as a unit, no matter what disasters life might throw at it. It is a play full of hope and believes wholeheartedly in the tenacity of the human spirit. The play underlines that hardship and despair are necessary experiences in order to measure the virtues of humanity.
A native of Hastings, England, Richmond has directed more than 30 productions for Aquila Theatre, including many Shakespeare plays and other classical dramas, such as Homer’s The Iliad: Book One and Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac. For Theatre South Carolina, Richmond has directed As You Like It, Oh! What a Lovely War and, most recently, A Cabal of Hypocrites. Richmond’s most recent credits were directing Hamlet at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and the popular outdoor drama, The Lost Colony.
Richmond is known for putting playful spins on classic texts. For the Theatre South Carolina production, he will use the modern aesthetic of the cinema to guide the audience through the leap of 4,000 years of history. The first act will be presented as a black-and-white movie, with both set and actors portrayed in perfect grayscale. The second act will employ the Technicolor tradition of the 1950s, while the final act will employ the realistic and gritty technique of today’s horror and sci-fi films.
Joining the cast of graduate and undergraduate students will be recently retired University of South Carolina President Andrew Sorensen, who will appear each night as the news broadcaster who introduces each act. Sorensen’s passages will be filmed and projected. MFA students Eric Bultman and Felicia Bertch, who portray Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, recently returned from internships at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Seattle Children’s Theatre, respectively.
The Skin of Our Teeth is a play within a play; throughout the action, audiences see members of a theater company, such as a stage manager, putting on the story of the Antrobus family. To enhance this element of the play, theater department staff members Kevin Bush and Lee Waters will appear nightly in the play.
Wilder, a novelist and playwright, is best known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning plays, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, and the novel, Bridge of San Luis Rey, which also earned a Pulitzer. His play, The Matchmaker, was adapted into the musical Hello Dolly!