Matt Trucano directs Camino Real as his thesis play

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17-Jan-17
 
For his thesis production, current student, Matt Trucano will direct Tennessee Williams’ expansive Camino Real, playing at the Connelly Theatre from January 25-28, 2017. Williams’ wild, imaginative play takes place in a dead-end town at the end of the Camino Real, or Royal Road. The play swirls through the chaotic lives of 36 characters—including mythic and literary figures such as Don Quioxte, Casonova, and Kilroy—all struggling to break free of their situation.
 
“It’s about people who have become stuck in their lives and in their relationships,” said Trucano. “They are the ones who are holding to a past that no longer exists. They are unwilling to leave their memories of better times and unable to move forward because of that.”
 
For Williams, the frustration felt by the characters in Camino Real was fuel by both his personal life and the political state of America during the 1940s and 50s, a time rife with racist, homophobic, and anti-communist sentiment.

“Looking into the corners of his heart, Tennessee Williams has written a strange and disturbing drama,” wrote the New York Times when the play originally premiered in 1953. “Mr. Williams has unlocked his mind and told his version of the truth about human destiny… It is a world surrounded with death and inhumanity, and decked with the flowers of evil.”

With Trucano’s production opening on the heels of the Presidential Inauguration, many of the political resonances and feelings of fear loom large.
 
“I’ve been saying that 2017 is the best time to be a bigot since 1952, which was when Tennessee was writing this,” said Trucano. “It’s going to be very frightening the day that we open this play. Nobody’s going to pay attention to anything if it isn’t acknowledged that it has something to do with what’s going on in the world.”
 
Among its themes, Camino Real looks at the role that economic and cultural status plays in segregating American society. The play’s world is split in two: the rich live on one side of the plaza, the poor on the other. Trucano’s staging emphasizes this sense of “us” and “them”, which might well resonate with a contemporary American audience, by dividing his audience into two distinct groups, constrained to either the wealthy or the poor side of the play. This staging choice is just one of the many challenges Trucano faces in bringing Williams’ chaotic, lyrical, and brutal play to the stage. But that challenge is what attracted him to Camino Real in the first place.
 
“Before I came to Columbia I was obsessed with everything about theater, reading acting books and reading books about directing. I was only interested in theater. And at Columbia I’ve learned that I’m interested in everything else,” Trucano said. “Brian Kulick and Anne Bogart taught me how to direct, and they also taught me how to think about my work as part of a larger conversation that is more than the theater and the arts world, but is the humanities and the sciences coming together.”
 
Tickets for Camino Real are free with any CUID, $15 for General Admission, and $5 for Seniors; they can be purchased here. Performances are at the Connelly Theatre, 220 East 4th Street, at 8 pm on January 25–27 and at 2 pm and 8 pm on January 28.

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Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.