‘The Labyrinth of Desire,’ a cloak-and-dagger rom-com, set to open at KU Theatre
LAWRENCE – This October, fans of the performing arts can escape into a breezy, lighthearted play produced by the University Theatre within KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance. “The Labyrinth of Desire,” by Caridad Svich, offers comedic and romantic hijinks as a multitude of suitors vie for the love of a clever and reluctant young woman named Laura.
Performances are in the William Inge Memorial Theatre at Murphy Hall. “The Labyrinth of Desire” will play at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 and at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 16. Tickets are available for purchase at kutheatre.com, by calling 785-864-3982, or in person from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays at the box office in Murphy Hall. Additionally, the Oct. 21 performance will be livestreamed. Purchase livestream tickets at kutheatre.com/streaming. The play serves as KU Theatre & Dance’s 2022-23 season opener.
The play relies on cloak-and-dagger intrigue reminiscent of 16th century Spanish commedia. Svich has freely adapted and translated the script from the play “La Prueba de los Ingenios” by the prolific Spanish dramatist Lope de Vega.
The production will be guest-directed by Paris Crayton III of New York City. “The Labyrinth of Desire” asks: What compels us to hide our true self? To what lengths will we go to satisfy desire?
“'Labyrinth’ explores desire from many different angles: How we fall in and out of love and what it looks like when the person we thought we desired is only a ‘steppingstone’ to getting closer to who our heart truly yearns for,” Crayton said. “Working at KU has been a blast. The students are a joy, and they work harder than most professionals.”
Crayton’s staging involves a lot of movement, which makes KU’s production of the play unique, he said. Patrons can expect examples of the anachronistic with props especially.
This is the second time Crayton has been in residency at KU. His play “Chasing Gods” was staged at the university in summer 2019, a collaboration between KU and NewYorkRep.
Crayton is an award-winning playwright, actor, director and educator. He was one of ArtsATL "30 under 30" and Atlanta Journal Constitution's "Artist to watch." Creative Loafing named him 2014's "Best Local Playwright." Critics have called him "a powerful dramatist" and praised him as "One of the most important playwrights of our time." His directing credits include “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” at DeSales University, “Chasing Gods" at Davidson College, “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” at Pure Artistry and “Mama Bear” at Out of Box Theatre. He is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association. See more at www.ParisCrayton3.com.
In addition to Crayton, the creative team members are Gabrielle Smith, a 2021 graduate of the department and freelance actor from Lansing, as associate director; Lindsay Webster, a third-year MFA student in scenography from Novi, Michigan, as costume and scenic designer; Kelly Vogel, resident artist/academic associate, as lighting designer; Renee Cyr, doctoral student in theatre, from Lawrence, as dramaturg; and Kaitlin Nelke, a freelance stage manager from Kansas City, Missouri, as stage manager.
The cast members include Betsy Armstrong, a senior in film production, as Florela; Cooper Holmes, a freshman in theatre performance from Overland Park, as Ricardo; Farrukhbek Varisov, a senior in theatre performance and political science from Tashkent, Uzbekistan, as Alejandro; Marek Skeeba, a freshman in theatre performance from Lecompton, as Camacho; Allison FitzSimmons, a sophomore in behavioral neuroscience from Lincoln, Nebraska, as Laura; Promita Dey, a junior in aerospace engineering from Overland Park, as Finea; Myles Hollie, a sophomore in theatre performance from Richmond, Virginia, as Paris; Asher Suski, a senior in theatre performance and linguistics from Ames, Iowa, as Estacio; and Basia Schendzielos, a junior in French from Shreveport, Louisiana, as the Duchess of Ferrara.
The University Theatre and University Dance Company are production wings of KU’s Department of Theatre & Dance, offering five to six public productions throughout the academic year. The University Theatre and University Dance Company productions are funded in part by KU Student Senate fees, and the theatre’s season is supported by Truity Credit Union.