UNL Theatre opens season with 'Silence'

Ryan Rabstejnek as King Ethelred, Maggie Austin as Ymma and Bren Hill as Silence. Photo by Doug Smith.
Ryan Rabstejnek as King Ethelred, Maggie Austin as Ymma and Bren Hill as Silence. Photo by Doug Smith.

UNL Theatre opens season with 'Silence'

25 Sep 2013    

UNL University Theatre, the Johnny Carson School of Theatre and Film’s academic year main stage production program, opens its 2013-2014 season with "Silence" by Moira Buffini. Graduate student Dennis Henry directs this production in partial fulfillment for a Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing for Stage and Screen.

Performances are October 10-12 and 15-19 at 7:30 p.m. and October 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. in the Studio Theatre, first floor of the Temple Building at 12th & R Streets. Tickets are $16, $14 faculty/staff and senior citizens, and $10 for students. Tickets are available at the Lied Center Ticket Office, 301 North 12th Street Monday through Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or at 402-472-4747 or 800-432-3231. Tickets are also available on line at carsonschool.unl.edu and one hour prior to performances in the Temple Lobby.

“Funny, touching and full of surprises and adventure, "Silence" is set in 1,000 A.D. Ymma, a French Princess is shipped to England for a forced marriage to Silence, a Viking prince with whom she develops a surprising friendship. Their happiness becomes threatened by a homicidal English King, a confused priest, a jealous soldier and hallucinogenic mushrooms. The greatest danger of all, however, is the truth about who Silence really is. It is a secret that, if revealed, will change the course of history,” described director Henry.

According to Henry, Buffini loosely based her characters on historical source materials. “The history books tell us that, in the year 1002, Emma of Normandy was sent to England to marry King Ethelred the Unready. Ethelred was already married, but Ethelred was hopeful that this alliance with the Normans would help defend England from the incessant Viking raids that were destroying the land…We also know that Emma went on to outlive Ethelred, and become a powerful woman in a time when little power was available to women.”

Henry continued, “The rest of what occurs in the play is the product of the imagination of Moira Buffini. Presumably, Buffini looked at Emma and wondered, "How did she become so powerful? Where did she find the courage to assert herself?" Then Buffini did what all great dramatists do and thought "What if...?"

What if Emma met Silence? The character of Silence was taken from a thirteenth century French romance entitled Le Roman de Silence. The character of Silence in the romance is like no other known to the medieval world and is a surprise even today's audience. The result of this imagined encounter is an exciting adventure story that is funny, sad and full of the unexpected.

Cast members are Maggie Austin as Ymma, Bren Hill as Silence, and Ryan Rabstejnek as Ethelred. Other members of the cast are Kirstie Smith, David Michael Fox and Luke Glassman.

The production is designed by Michaela Stein (scenic), David Tousley (props), Sarah Resch (lighting), Katie Davis (costumes), Sonia Sandoval (sound), and Drake Tucker and Ethan Seagren (projections.) Fred Drenkow stage manages.