Resurgens Theatre Company partnered with Southern Miss Gulf Park campus to perform “The Changeling” as part of their Cultural Arts Series “Representing the Experiences of Women, From the English Renaissance to Right Now.”
“I, in my efforts to bring some theatre to the Gulf Park campus, am attempting to offer at least one theatrical event each year,” assistant professor of English Christopher Foley said.
“The Changeling” by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley premiered in 1622, is a tragedy and was performed in the time of Shakespeare.
“We are bringing you a play that—to my knowledge—has never been performed on the Gulf coast before,” artistic director for Resurgence Theatre Company Brent Griffin, Ph.D. said. “It’s 400 years in the making. Count yourself lucky. It is a special event to be sure.”
Foley said he believes it is extremely important to remember the contemporaries writing and working near and with Shakespeare.
“I would like to echo the importance of considering other Renaissance dramatists beyond Shakespeare when we think about gender issues, relationships and feminist concerns from the early modern period,” Foley said.
Foley said the focus of the series was to show the representation of women in Renaissance literature. He said that Resurgens had told him they would be preforming “The Changeling” while communicating, and he tailored the series around it.
“‘The Changeling’ can be situated productively with respects to gender, politics and society more broadly both in its historical context in the early 17th century in England as well as in contemporary context primarily in relation issues or concerns about women’s consent, the transgression of sexual and moral boundaries and the MeToo Movement,” Foley said.
Griffin said they follow the traditional format of plays. That means they use natural sounds and real instruments during the performance. They also keep the lights on in the audience and keep natural style lighting on the stage. The plays are performed in full without an intermission. Griffin said this helps maintain the momentum of the play and that it is something the actors get used to fairly easily.
“We seek to explore the complex, aesthetically charged dialogue between Elizabethan/Jacobean verse dramas and their poetic/rhetorical trans-historical resonance—to revitalize ‘scores for lost voices,’ we would say,” Griffin said in the director’s note that was part of the play program.
Second-year graduate student of English literature Michael Coats said the performance itself was enjoyable.
“I had not read or watched ‘The Changeling’ before, so I had no expectations going into the show,” Coats said through email. “I am always pleased when a tragedy can be comedically played, and that was the case. The actors’ charisma allowed the play to be funny where it needed to be and still serious when the time arose.”
The next event for the Cultural Arts Series is a public forum titled, “Women in Mississippi Politics” which will take place on the Gulf Park Campus on March 25 at 5:30 p.m. in the Hardy Hall Ballroom. The Hattiesburg campus theater department will perform “Much Ado about Nothing” by Shakespeare on April 11, 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. and on April 13 and 14 at 2:00 p.m.
photo courtesy Southern Miss Now