Pulitzer Prize-winning tragicomedy ‘August: Osage County’ arrives at Tritico Theater – Reuters

The theatrical production “August: Osage County” will be performed July 27-31 at McNeese State University’s Tritico Theater.

“August: Osage County” is a tragicomedy written by playwright Tracy Letts in 2007. It explores the complex relationships and situations of a family stricken by tragedy.

According to Dr. Brook Akya Hanemann, director of Banners at McNeese, this play is a Pulitzer Prize-winning production that has been considered “one of the most exciting American plays to come out in the last two decades.”

“It fearlessly touches on some of the most hidden things in America, which mostly revolve around the intricacies of family dysfunctions and family relationships. It’s all really centered around the Weston family as they deal with some pretty serious issues.

The play, while heavy with drama, is also “funny biting.”

“It goes to the throat and makes the stomach laugh,” Hanemann said. “The best way for me to describe this piece is that it’s a real roller coaster.”

This marks the first time “August: Osage County” has been produced in southwest Louisiana. Hanemann attributes this both to the play’s mature intensity and the complexity of its production.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” she said. “It’s a piece that takes place on a 3-storey stage. It’s extremely complex.

Hanemann explained that most plays have “single-column” dialogue, in which there is only one on-stage conversation. However, this production features “three-column” dialogue. This means that at certain points in the game, three conversations will take place simultaneously.

“There are 12 people speaking on stage in different conversations,” she said. “Conversations loop and intertwine with each other, and happen across the room. It’s a big challenge for the actors, but it’s wonderful to see on stage.

“It’s a particularly rich piece because Letts creates such specific and real characters.”

This piece is intended for an informed public and “not for sensitive souls”. Hanemann said the material is very adult and you shouldn’t bring your kids to see it.

The director of this production is Rus Blackwell. Blackwell has over 81 film and television credits and has starred alongside actors including Cate Blanchett, Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron and Paul Rudd.

He also trained at the famous New York theater school Circle and the Square.

“To have him here, it’s really hard to express what a huge blessing and gift it is,” Hanemann said.

The cast is equally impressive. “The cast is a mix of our community favorite actors from all of our local theaters and the crew is the best Lake Charles has to offer.”

Hanemann, Clay Herbert, Mark Hebert, Leslie Israel, Greg Leute, Paula McCain, Amber Netherland, Heather Partin, Randy Partin, Jonathan Richards, Dan Sadler, Kenzi Whitman and Bacot Wright will all be on stage.

This production is an impressive collaboration between Banners at McNeese, ACTS Theatre, Lake Charles Little Theater and the WA and McNeese’s Dorothy Hanna Department of Performing Arts have collaborated to bring this production to life on the McNeese Stage.

Hanemann explained that a collaboration as large and complex as this had not happened in Lake Charles before.

“A lot of times actors and designers are very isolated in their own theater…one of the amazing things that’s happened since the pandemic and the disasters is that people are starting to share resources. This is an incredibly creative collaboration that happens with people who have never worked together before.

“I think it’s going to really affect our theater community going forward.”

For Hanemann, customers will get their money’s worth just from seeing the decor. The set was built by a group of engineers and ex-military personnel who “live and breathe theatre”.

“They put together one of the most powerful sets I’ve seen as a theater practitioner.”

McNeese and Sowela students enjoy free admission with a valid student ID. General admission tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at www.banners.org. Tickets can also be purchased in the theater lobby.

Performances from July 27 to 30 will begin at 7 p.m. The performance on Sunday, July 31 will begin at 2 p.m.

For more information, visit www.banners.org or call 337.475.5123.

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