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Juniata Theatre\'s \'Enrico IV\' Explores the Illusion of Reality

(Posted February 5, 2007)

\'Enrico IV,\' a play by Luigi Pirandello, finds comedy and tragedy in the tale of a man who believes he is a king.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The new production by the Juniata Theatre department, \"Enrico IV,\" takes the audience through comedy, tragedy, fashion show and finally, a musical extravaganza as the cast desperately tries to help the title character maintain the illusion that he is of royal blood. The production will run at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 15-17, and Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 22-24 in the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for students. Tickets are available at the Juniata College information desk in Ellis Hall, or at the Halbritter Center box office. For further information, call (814) 641-3608. \"Enrico IV\" follows a farcical plotline in which an Italian aristocrat, celebrating a historical pageant, impersonates the Holy Roman Emperor Enrico IV. When the aristocrat falls from his horse and hits his head, he awakens believing he actually is the Holy Roman Emperor. Juniata begins the play 20 years later, as the deluded aristocrat \"rules\" over a kingdom designed and acted in by his friends and family, all of which are desperate to maintain the illusion of royalty. Luigi Pirandello, who lived from 1867 to 1936, is best known for his plays, but he was celebrated for his novels and poetry. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934. He is perhaps best remembered for his absurdist plays \"Six Characters in Search of an Author,\" and \"Enrico IV.\" Pirandello wrote \"Enrico IV\" inspired by the plight of his wife, who struggled with mental illness and finally was confined to an asylum. The play, directed by Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre at Juniata, is a collaboration between the college and The Gravity Project, the professional theatre project associated with Juniata. In addition to Belser, several Gravity Project professionals are involved in the production. Andrew Olewine is performing in the play, as is Kathleen Clarke, a professional actress from New York, N.Y. The movement segments are choreographed by Stephanie Skura. Randy Ward, a professional set designer and professor at Virginia Tech, is scenic designer. Lighting design is by John Ambrosone and the play features original music by Gravity Project composer John Nuhn. Juniata students who are performing in \"Enrico IV\" include: Josh Beckel, a junior from Hollidaysburg, Pa.; Tricia Bitetto, a junior from Ringoes, N.J.; Charles Earnhart, a sophomore from Mercer, Pa.; Megan Monahan, a sophomore from Pottstown, Pa.; Adam Vachon, a junior from Gray, Maine; and Mandi Yeager, a senior from Curwensville, Pa.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.