Dr. Hill and students

Ferguson has ‘Big Love’ affair

Big Love

Directing Wofford Theatre production

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Kerry Ferguson has had a big love affair with “Big Love,” by American playwright Charles L. Mee, for more than 10 years. Now, she’s making it her own.

Ferguson, an adjunct theatre professor, is directing the Wofford Theatre production of “Big Love,” based on Aeschylus’s “The Supplicants,” which opens Thursday, April 15. The performances are at 8 p.m. nightly April 15-17 and April 21-24 in Tony White Theater. Call                               864-597-4080                 for reservations.

Mee’s play is about 50 brides who flee to a manor in Italy to avoid marrying their 50 cousins. The production takes the plot from the original Greek play into modern times, including such details as having the grooms ambush the brides by helicopter.

Ferguson is eminently qualified to adapt the play – she worked as an assistant to the playwright more than 10 years ago on the premiere production at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky.

“When I first read the piece back then, I was captivated by it, and it’s remained one of my favorite plays of all time to this day,” she says. “I’ve been carrying ideas for my production with me for a long, long time. So, a year ago, when Wofford Theatre’s celebratory 40th season was announced, I began my work: picking apart the text, editing it down in some places, and finding potential places for new and/or found text.”

Ferguson also began plotting the music out, “because I knew that in my production, the soundscape needed to pull away from the mix of wedding and classical music that is in the original text to reflect a more personal and modern aesthetic.”

Discussing the work with colleagues, Ferguson began thinking of the idea of “collage” – “and thus began the chaotic shape of this production.”

The play now has “totally new text, a live pianist, a dance-number prelude, elements of collage, a handful of modernist theatrical tactics, and there you have it – that’s my adaptation,” Ferguson says. “It never strays from Mee’s original plot or storyline, but it does explore his world in new and fun ways.”

Ferguson says the play has always been special, and her affair with it continues, “mostly due to its ability to balance a whimsical sensibility with a series of darker and more serious themes.

“This particular production at Wofford has only strengthened my feelings of admiration for the piece,” Ferguson says, “because it is anchored in my here-and-now – by my crazy life in Spartanburg, by other local writers, by my colleagues here at school, by my friends, by my current circumstances, and by these incredibly fearless and dedicated student actors.”

Ticket prices are $12 for general public and $5 for students. Tickets for the first Saturday performance will admit you to a post-show party with sweets by Cake Head Bake Shop and libations. Wednesday, April 21, is free for Wofford students with current IDs.

About Kerry Ferguson:

Ferguson is a mom, a playwright, a director and an adjunct theatre professor at Wofford College. She won the 2009 Hub City Writers Project Award for Poetry, and her original piece, “connect: a memory play,” premiered at Wofford in the fall of 2007. Local work highlights include: her directorial work on the Suzan Lori Park’s national theatre experiment “365 Days/365 Plays;” her creative development work with the HUB-BUB arts initiative and its resident artist program; and her continuing work with students, which always stresses the importance of process, collaboration, and creativity.