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UK Theatre to Present 'As It Is in Heaven'

By Ralph Derickson

 

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Hutton, a New York actress and playwright, based her play on the activities of a community of nearly 600 Shakers who lived at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Mercer County, Ky., before the middle of the 19th century.

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Sept. 11, 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- The first play in the University of Kentucky Department of Theatre's 2002-2003 schedule is set for October. Theater students will perform the play, "As It Is In Heaven," a drama depicting major changes that were occurring in the Shaker religion in 1838.

The play, written by Arlene Hutton, a woman with strong Kentucky connections, tells the story of nine Shaker "sisters" and how they responded to changes in their religion during that period.

Hutton, a New York actress and playwright, based her play on the activities of a community of nearly 600 Shakers who lived at Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill in Mercer County, Ky., before the middle of the 19th century.

Hutton's parents were natives of London and Corbin, Ky., and moved to the west coast of Florida. They brought the young Hutton to Kentucky for visits each summer. It was her experiences during those summer vacations and trips to Shaker Village that Hutton drew on to write "As It Is In Heaven," said Rhoda-Gale Pollack, theatre professor who is directing the play.

The title of the play relates to the atmosphere the Shakers tried to create that would be suitable to angels should they choose to visit, Pollack notes.

The play's nine characters are all women and they are all portrayed by UK students, including one graduate student, Pollack said. "Men are not present in the play, but you can feel the presence of 'the brethern' in the dialogue of the play," Pollack noted.

Hutton's play premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in Scotland in August 2001. It opened in New York Sept. 13, 2001, but the performances were soon canceled due to the World Trade Center tragedy. It reopened in January 2002.

The Shakers worshipped by singing hymns and dancing. This work for the production will be directed by Donna Phillips, music program director at Shaker Village. Shaker Village also is preparing an exhibit that will be on display in the Tuska Gallery in the College of Fine Arts during the play's performances.

The play will be presented Oct. 10-12 and Oct. 16-19 at 8 p.m. in the Briggs Theatre in the College of Fine Arts Building on Rose Street. Matinees at 2 p.m. will be performed Oct. 13 and Oct. 20.

Tickets are $12, general admission; $10 for UK faculty and staff; and $8 for students. To reserve tickets, call the ticket office in the Singletary Center for the Arts, (859) 257-4929.


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