Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

Feb. 19, 2009

Whitworth Theatre to Stage Tina Howe's "Museum"

The Whitworth Theatre Department will present its spring production, "Museum," March 6, 7, 13, and 14 at 8 p.m., and March 8 at 2 p.m., in Cowles Memorial Auditorium on the Whitworth campus. General admission is $7; students and seniors pay $5. Tickets may be purchased online at www.whitworth.edu/theatretickets. For more information, please call (509) 777-3707. To see a preview of the upcoming performance, visit www.whitworth.edu/museum.

Tina Howe's "Museum" portrays an art gallery in a museum on the last day of a modern art exhibit called "The Broken Silence." The exhibit displays the work of three fictional artists: a conceptual painter whose white canvases are covered in white paint; a sculptor who uses organic materials, including animal skeletons; and an artist whose soft-sculpture construction consists of five life-sized dummies, hung on a clothesline.

"Museum" is about art and the way it affects its audience and how their reactions can reveal as much about human nature as they do about the artwork. The play involves 40 characters, played by 19 students. Some of the roles include tourists, art snobs, curators, janitors, art students, donors, photographers, a vandal, and one of the artists.

The play was first staged at the Los Angeles Actors Theatre in 1976 and was then performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1977. Instead of telling a story through a typical plot structure, "Museum" derives its shape from a montage of comedic events that are layered, juxtaposed and repeated.

"What really drew me to this piece was that it doesn't have typical dramatic action, so it's easier to 'hear' the music in the structure," says Brooke Kiener, the play's director and instructor of theatre at Whitworth. "By putting less of an emphasis on plot, we've been able to play with text and image in more obviously musical and visual ways."

To create a more intimate environment and make the audience more self-aware, Kiener and her theatre students have set up a mock art exhibit and have temporarily redesigned the space inside the auditorium. The theatre will open one hour prior to each show so that audience members can arrive early and explore the exhibit. There will be no assigned seats, and only 200 tickets will be available per show. Theatre doors will close promptly at the start of each performance; late arrivals will not be admitted.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Jennifer Toulouse-Lee, theatre department program assistant, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3707 or jtoulouse-lee@whitworth.edu.

Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703, or eproffitt@whitworth.edu.

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