Drury University Theatre's Production Of "God's Ear:" An "Exciting Viewing Experience"
An innovative play exploring communication, and dealing with tragedy, is coming up next week from Drury University Theatre. It’s “God’s Ear” by Jenny Schwartz. Drury Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre, Haddy Kreie, joined us on “Arts News” to discuss the play.
“Briefly, it's about a couple who's lost a child to a drowning incident. And it's really about them sorting through their grief, and how a relationship can disintegrate in the face of grief; also, their attempts to reconcile that and to come to terms with a new future and with the remaining child who's left behind as well.”
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the child in the drowning incident is dead or alive, although the character never appears in the play. Haddy Kreie attributes the ambiguity to the way Jenny Schwartz has written the script. “The play is written in a way that utilizes language to an absurd degree. So there's a lot of lack of clarity, which is part of the traumatic experience. And so she's really exploiting, I think, the way our language falls apart, and our inability to sometimes see the truth when we're facing impending or past trauma.”
In her plays, Jenny Schwartz likes to explore the cliches and platitudes that we hear every day. In fact, the script of “God’s Ear” is full of such clichés… you might even say that’s all you hear from the actors. “I'll tell you,” said Kreie, “my lead actress has had a hell of a time trying to memorize! There's so much repetition, and repetition with very minor differences, that it's it's been a real challenge.”
Despite the evident darkness of subject matter, Haddy Kreie said there is a lot of “absurd” humor in “God’s Ear.” But, she warned, “it’s really an emotional roller coaster. We're hoping audiences will be crying within the first two minutes. But then halfway through, there's delight and absurdity, with a GI Joe and a tooth fairy coming to life. So there's lots to explore.”
When Charles Isherwood of The New York Times reviewed “God’s Ear,” he called it “a hallucinatory work” in which “a haunted man and woman almost seem to be drowning in speech… the play will surely fascinate many even as it exasperates others.” Haddy Kreie called that “an amazingly accurate description! We've had a lot of conversations trying to sort through the meaning of different moments, trying to make sense, and trying to make sure there is some sort of narrative arc for our more traditional audience members to latch on to when the rest of it feels very post-modern and mismatched and confusing.”
“Confusing” seems to be Jenny Schwartz’s point here. The parents in the play have undergone a terrible tragedy, a horrible trauma in their personal lives, and it’s tearing them apart. “Yeah, I think it's brilliant,” said director Haddy Kreie. When she first started reading “God’s Ear,” she “knew within 10 pages that I wanted to do this show and I picked it. And then we were reading it in a class and I was like, oh, good. The ending is not a total downer! So there's a little bit of light at the end of it.” She added, “It's probably worth mentioning it's not necessarily a kid friendly show. But it's a it's a definitely going to be an exciting viewing experience. I think.”
Performances of “God’s Ear” will take place in Wilhoit Theater on the Drury University Campus, Wednesday through Saturday April 14-17 at 7:30pm each evening, as well as a 2:00pm matinee on Saturday the 17th. Tickets range from $3 to $14. And yes, there is an online streaming option as well. “We were able to get the rights to have it stream,” said Kreie. “It'll be available for streaming only during those dates.” Also, streaming passes are ONLY available by calling the Drury box office Mon-Fri 1:00 to 5:00pm at (417) 873-7255.
Ironic but true: online streaming tickets are not available online! However, in-person tickets can be ordered online at https://www.drury.edu/theatre/drury-university-theatre-box-office.