UNC’s undergraduate theater will explore race, religion and ideology in its latest production, “The Sunset Limited.”
The play, written by Cormac McCarthy, examines the opposing ideologies of two men: Black, a black ex-convict, ex-addict and reborn Christian; and White, a white professor and atheist. Black and White’s performances take place in a one-room set.
The show is presented by UNC’s Department of Dramatic Art Undergraduate Productions and the LAB! Theatre. It opens at 8:15 p.m. tonight at the Kenan Theatre and runs through Tuesday.
While controversial issues including race, suicide, the nature and existence of God and the value of religion, are overtones of the performance, the show’s director, Jeb Brinkley, said the audience can relate to both Black and White by recognizing “the flaws in both of their ways of thinking.”
Brinkley makes his directorial debut with this production, along with a cast and crew that is composed mainly of first-timers.
“Theater is a collaborative art form, and the challenge as a director is to make sure that every part of the experience fits with everything else,” he said. “You have to entrust others to help execute this concept, and a large part of making that work is simply being able to communicate your ideas.”
Andrew Slater, a producing director for LAB! Theatre, said the group focuses on creating an artistic season by choosing material that is both engaging for college generations and relevant to our campus and community.
“We find artistic value in both historical classics and recently published work, appreciating the theatrical arts as a forum that is simultaneously timeless and one that constantly evolves to fit the current time,” he said. “‘The Sunset Limited’ is a unique hybrid of that ideology, as it is a fairly recent play that tackles age-old issues.”
The play was first performed in 2006.
Though McCarthy subtitled the play “A Novel in Dramatic Form,” it is still meant for the stage, Brinkley said.
“It simply means the text is as important to the story as the staging and technical elements,” he said.
Brinkley also said the play’s ideas provide grounds for the audience to challenge its way of thinking.
“Our director, Jeb Brinkley, puts it in a good way: ‘As an audience member, you have to consider each of the characters’ subjective opinions fairly and then objectively come to face your own,’” said Shannon Blakey, the show’s stage manager.
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