The UB Department of Theatre and Dance and the Center for the Arts to present "Spinning Into Butter"

By David Wedekindt

Release Date: September 30, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Center for the Arts and the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University at Buffalo will present "Spinning Into Butter," October Oct. 14-17 and 21-24 in the Black Box Theater in the Center for the Arts on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Oct. 14-16 and Oct. 21-23 and at 2 p.m. on Oct. 17 and 24.

The event will be one of more than 50 inaugural events being held during October in conjunction with the investiture of John B. Simpson as UB's 14th president, and is being held concurrently with the 10th anniversary of the International Artistic and Cultural Exchange (IACE) program of the Department of Theatre and Dance

Written by Rebecca Gilman, the award-winning play "Spinning Into Butter" will be directed by UB Associate Professor Maria S. Horne.

Set on a Vermont college campus, "Spinning Into Butter" explores the dangers of both racism and "political correctness" in today's American universities in a manner that is at once profound, disturbing, darkly comic and deeply cathartic. When an African-American freshman begins receiving hate mail, the campus erupts -- first with shock, then with mutual recrimination as faculty and students alike try to prove their own tolerance by condemning one another. At the center of this maelstrom is Sarah Daniels, the dean of students. As the administration sponsors public "race forums" and students start activist groups, Sarah is forced to confront her own feelings regarding racism. Her self examination leads to some surprising discoveries and painful insights into America's "liberal conscience."

Rebecca Gilman, one of the finest young playwrights now at work in America, has been awarded several major prizes for her work. Winner of the Kennedy Center Roger L. Stevens Award and the Joseph Jefferson Award, "Spinning Into Butter" had its acclaimed world premiere at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago in 1999 and opened at the Lincoln Center in New York in 2000.

IACE also has also been invited to present this production at the International Theatre Festival of the Université de Liège, Belgium, in February 2005. The students engaged in this production have been selected to be part of Professor Horne's Creative Research Lab, and have been conducting extensive research on the subject of race in American universitiesn . The members of this Creative Research Team are includes actors Angela Cristantello, Thomas DeTrinis, Tim Eimiller, Jamie Elvey, Meghan McAdam, Stephen Stocking, Gordon Tashjian; student assistant directors Giselle Nicholson, Harold N. Lewter, Alaa "Zak" Noweihed and Marilyn Sloan; and student designers Michael Arisohn, Dmitry A. Borisov, Liam P. Burke, Izumi Inaba and Lauren Millman.

With the sponsorship of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean Uday Sukhatme and in collaboration with the National Conference for Community and Justice, the 26th Annual Fall Youth Leadership Youth Conference centering on "Spinning Into Butter" will take place on campus in the morning of Oct. 21. As part of the International Artistic and Cultural Exchange Program's community outreach, about 125 high-school students will convene with the actors to examine their own attitudes and perceptions through dialogue and experiential activities. This highlight event will bring young people of diverse backgrounds together to increase awareness of diversity in lives, schools and communities.

The National Conference for Community and Justice is a human-relations organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism in America. The NCCJ promotes understanding and respect of all races, religions and cultures through education, advocacy and conflict resolution. The committee for this event includes NCCJ's Fatima Johnson and Michele Bewley, associate to the dean of arts and sciences, Robert Knopf, professor and chair of theatre and dance, and Horne.

Founded in 1994, IACE fosters a better understanding of multicultural heritages by bringing artists of multicultural background from around the world to the university and community. IACE presents thought provoking, critical, innovative and interactive performing arts events, and it extends dialogue into the community on a multitude of levels. Internationally, IACE has made it possible for UB to participate in more than dozen overseas events, providing students and faculty with international research experiences. During its plentiful decade, IACE has inspired minds and opened worlds, positively affecting many lives.

Currently celebrating its 10th anniversary, the UB Center for the Arts is a non-profit organization that presents a wide range of high quality performing arts and visual arts for the University, Western New York and beyond. Part of the center's vision is to enrich Western New York by providing a wide range of cultural opportunities and expanding access to the arts through its community outreach activities.

Tickets for "Spinning Into Butter" are $15 and $6 for students. The Oct. 17 performance will be free. Seating is limited. Tickets are available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Center for the Arts Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations, including Kaufmann's. To charge tickets, call 852-5000; in Canada, call 1-416-870-8000. For group sales, call 645-6771. For more information call 645-ARTS. The Center for the Arts is a Ticketfast location.