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Theater Emory opens fall season with faculty-student collaboration, ‘The Park: An Expressionist Fable’
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Caitlin Hargraves, co-artistic director of Theater Emory, directs “The Park,” a play inspired by the Frank Wedekind novella “Mine HaHa: Or on the Bodily Education of Young Girls.” Performances will be Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at the Campus Life Pavilion.

Theater Emory presents “The Park: An Expressionist Fable” to open its 2022-23 season Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at the Campus Life Pavilion. A site-specific work created by faculty member Caitlin Hargraves and Emory students, “The Park” follows seven young women as they navigate their creative — yet restrictive and mysterious — education. 

The Park” was originally slated for performance in spring 2020 but was canceled due to COVID-19. Now, it opens Theater Emory’s first full production season since the onset of the pandemic. 

Featuring an ensemble of eight students (two from the original cast and six joining the production for the first time this season) as well as faculty, this piece incubated throughout the phases of the pandemic. Theater Emory is thrilled to finally produce this work and celebrate the contributions of Caitlin Hargraves and the student ensembles.

“I first read Frank Wedekind’s novella ‘Mine HaHa: Or on the Bodily Education of Young Girls’ when I was studying in Amsterdam the summer before my senior year of undergrad,” says Caitlin Hargraves, director of “The Park” and co-artistic director of Theater at Emory. 

“I was there studying experimental theater and was exposed to so many different texts and techniques, I felt like my mind was opening to all the possibilities that theater could be. Though there were many notions and themes I disagreed with in the novella, the imagery was powerful and captivating and stuck with me through the years.”

Hargraves joined Emory’s theater studies department in 2018. This is the second piece she has created with an entirely student cast, providing research laboratories of experimental theater-making for young artists. 

“When I was asked to devise a site-specific theater piece for the 2019-20 Theater Emory season, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to adapt Wedekind’s work,” Hargraves says. “The story centers on a group of young girls who are trapped in a boarding school of sorts where the training is focused in the performing arts... Through that process, we ultimately created a piece that centered around women’s autonomy, educational rights and sisterhood all wrapped into a bizarrely abstract world and expressionist movement. Ultimately, Wedekind’s mark on ‘The Park’ is barely noticeable now but I’m indebted to the seed of inspiration the novella planted.”

Willa Barnett, an ensemble member in the 2020 and 2022 casts, says, “I feel very lucky to have found a full-circle moment in ‘The Park.’ It is very fulfilling to return to this work that we built together freshman year with senior eyes (and creakier bones). And to see new women attached to and passionate about the project.” 

“I’m grateful to dive back into this world with a (mostly) new cast. Together we’ve been able to reimagine the show and contextualize it for today’s audience,” Hargraves says. “I’m thrilled to finally be able to share this story with an audience, mostly because I am so in awe of the perseverance and talent of this wonderful cast.”

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