Campus News

University Theatre opens its season with Sordid Lives

University Theatre’s 2007-2008 season gets off to a wickedly funny start with Del Shores’ Sordid Lives, “a black comedy about white trash.”

Directed by Farley Richmond, a professor in the department of drama and theatre, Sordid Lives will be performed Sept. 20-22 and 25-28 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 23 and 30 at 2:30 p.m. in the Cellar Theatre of the Fine Arts Building on the corner of Lumpkin and Baldwin streets.

Regular admission is $15; admission for UGA students and anyone 60 and older with valid ID is $12. Tickets may be purchased at the University Theatre box office in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building. The box office is open weekdays from noon–5 p.m. Tickets also may be purchased at the theatre door one hour prior to show time. Reservations may be made in advance by calling the University Theatre box office at (706) 542-2838.

In Sordid Lives, three generations reunite in their Texas hometown to mourn the loss of the family matriarch, who suffered a fatal accident in a cheap motel while committing adultery with a legless Vietnam vet. Along the way, the audience meets a rejected, gun-toting housewife; a soap star trying to find the courage to “come out” to his mother; and a transvestite who finds relief impersonating Tammy Wynette.

Ushering theatergoers through this romp is the singing ex-con Bitsy Mae Darling, portrayed by local Athens musician “Wilma.” Wilma is no stranger to small-town life in the South: one of her songs has been declared the official anthem of Winterville.

“There have been lots of plays written about growing up in the South, but this one is different,” said Richmond. “We’re seeing these people through the eyes of a young man who’s gone off to make his way in the world, so it’s a coming-of-age story, but it’s fast-paced rather than reflective. The emphasis is on having a good laugh at the outrageous behavior of these extreme comic characters.”

Sordid Lives opened in Los Angeles in 1996, where it ran for 13 sold-out months and received 13 Critic’s Choice Awards and 14 Drama-Logue Theatre Awards. The L.A. Times said it had “more laughs than a hunting dog has ticks.” In 2000, Shores took his success to the screen, writing a movie version of Sordid Lives starring Olivia Newton-John, Delta Burke and Beau Bridges. The film became a cult phenomenon and won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Feature Film at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. Shores is currently writing a TV series for the Sordid Lives characters, which will debut in summer 2008. Most of the cast from the original film are slated to revive their roles for the series.

“There isn’t a character in this play who isn’t crazy,” Richmond said. “This is broad farce. We haven’t done a comedy like this in a long time.”

Sordid Lives contains sexuality and language that may not be appropriate for children. The performance runs approximately two hours with one intermission.