The Fayetteville State University (FSU) Theatre Company and the Department of Performing and Fine Arts will host auditions for Fedra, Queen of Haiti, by J. Nicole Brooks, on Monday, September 10, from 2:30-5pm in Butler Theater or by appointment.
The production, directed by FSU Associate Professor Jeremy Fiebig, opens our theatre season with an explosive retelling of Phaedra that would make Euripides, Seneca and Jean Racine blush. This story of power and lust is set in a re-imagined Haiti that stands as the world's greatest superpower. Only the fiercely mischievous pen of provocative playwright J. Nicole Brooks (Black Diamond) could so ignite the hidden power of this enduring myth.
- The spelling: The early Greeks called her Phaedra; in the 17th century, French playwright Jean Racine went with Phedre as the name of the queen who, in the absence of her husband, lusts after the king's son from a previous marriage. Brooks' version uses the phonetic spelling: "I wanted to tailor this to fit my mother tongue."
- The setting: In 2002, Brooks performed in Court Theatre's production of "Phedre," which director JoAnne Akalaitis adapted from the Racine. "There was a lot of French in that production, and I remember thinking, 'This play would be so dope if it was set in Haiti.' The French is what helped connect me to that, and it's weird, because that comes with colonization and a lot of bloodshed and a lot of bull, but it is what it is."
- The update: "She's taking the archetypes and the basic plot and she's really bringing it into this very modern moment with her own wicked sense of humor and her very strong, muscular writing," says Laura Eason, original director at Lookingglass Theatre Company, who describes a "certain classical feeling and a certain distance that you experience with the Racine, whereas with Nicky's version, it's incredibly immediate, it's very visceral, and I think it draws you in. It's very irreverent. She brings in these wacky pop culture references, and it's sexier because it's more modern and immediate. It's a very interesting mix between this classic story and this modern twist on it."
- The trash and the tragedy: "All of those Greek tragedies, when you cut right down to it, they were soap operas," Brooks said, "and I love daytime soaps, because they are these fantastic, ridiculous journeys. I don't know if I would call this radical, but I certainly considered it a retelling. I just hope everybody has a dark sense of humor. I've always called this a dark comedy - I don't think it's a tragedy. Maybe that shows you how crazy I am."
- The clock: Brooks has trimmed the fat from the story. "I want this to be hard and fast. I don't want people to come in, sit for three hours, and they're completely atrophied when they leave. This is barely 90 minutes.
Roles available include:
Fedra - Queen of the Greater & Lesser Antilles, a force of nature and a sexy, provocative, willful presence.
Enone - a nurse and confidant to the queen
Panope - A servant woman
Theseus - King of the Greater & Lesser Antillies
Hippolytus - Prince
Theramenes - confidant to Hippolytus
Aricia - A princess of royal blood, held in captivity
Ismene - confidant to the princess
Afrodite - A goddess
Strong language and sexuality factor into this production
Apply to audition here. You will be assigned a time to arrive.
About Fayetteville State University
Fayetteville State University is a constituent institution of The University of North Carolina and the second-oldest public institution of higher education in the state, having been founded in 1867. FSU offers degrees at the baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral levels. With more than 6,200 students, Fayetteville State University is among the most diverse institutions in the nation. Chancellor James A. Anderson is the 11th chief executive officer. To learn more about Fayetteville State University, visit https://www.uncfsu.edu.