“Miss Julie” visits the Metcalf Theater

SIUE’s Department of Theater and Dance put on its third production of the year, “Miss Julie,” for a near packed house in the James F. Metcalf Theater on December 3.

Alexander Kowalchik (Jean) and Aiyanna Wade (Julie) star in SIUE's production of "Miss Julie."

Miss Julie,  which runs from December 1-5 and 10-12, was written by Swedish playwright Arthur Strindberg. The SIUE production is being directed by freelance theater artist Jason Cannon. The set was designed by Emeritus Professor of Theater and Dance Otis Sweezey.

Guiest director Cannon, whose credits include a recent production of Love Song at St. Louis Actors’ Studio and Doubt: A Parable at Dramatic License Productions, is also an award winning actor.

Set designer Sweezey has been at SIUE for 36 years and the set that he designed for “Miss Julie” is his final one for SIUE’s theater department. Particularly significant about this production for Sweezey, is the fact that his very first set design was for a 1969 production of “Miss Julie” at Vassar College in New York. The 1969 production starred the Academy Award winning actress Meryl Streep – before her Hollywood fame. As Sweezey’s time at SIUE nears its end, leaving on this note is particularly momentous.

Members of the cast are Aiyanna Wade, senior theater performance major, as Miss Julie;  Allison Kauling, senior theater performance major, as Christine; and Alexander Kowalchik, sophomore theater performance major, as Jean.

For the actors, the play – which was set in Sweden in 1888 – required tremendous effort and research.

“I researched the time period. The show is set in th 1880s in Sweden and I really wanted to give the feeling of that time period,” explained Kowalchik. “There was a lot of research on Swedish culture and what exactly a midsummer holiday was all about.”

Rehearsals started during the first week in October and were held five days a week up until the show opened.

“We were there three or four hours a night going over the lines and the blocking,” said Kowalchik. “It was a really a good growing experience for all three of us in the cast because the show was directed by a guest director so we also got some outside influence.”

SIUE’s Department of Theater and Dance has provided its students with a range of opportunities to grace the stage and hone their acting skills. “A Midsummer’s Night Dream” opened earlier this semester and productions of “The Colored Museum” as well as “Ubi Roi” are still to come.

“When it comes to acting and theater performances in general, experience is the best teacher,” said Kowalchik. “I’m really, really grateful for the experiences that I’ve been given on the stage. I just think it’s a good thing to have even if you’re not going into the entertainment industry for your career.”

Performances continue from Dec. 10 – 12. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the box office at (618) 650-2774. The box office is located in Dunham Hall, room 1042.

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