The Catholic University of America

Nov. 1, 2011

CUA Drama Premieres Innovative Theatre Experience

  Reading and Discussion Series

The Department of Drama at Catholic University is launching a new Reading and Discussion Series, featuring provocative new plays followed by discussions with leading experts on the topic explored in each play.

Alternative Methods kicks off the series this week and explores the different viewpoints surrounding torture and the role of mental health professionals in the interrogation of detainees in the war on terror. The play, by poet, author, and new playwright Patricia Davis, will be performed Friday night, Nov. 4, at Theatre J in Washington, D.C., and again on Saturday night, Nov. 5, at CUA’s Callan Theatre.

“The new Reading and Discussion Series is unique in many ways,” says Marietta Hedges, who is directing “Alternative Methods” and is the head of CUA’s M.F.A. acting program. “It features the combined talents of our faculty, alumni, and students. And the Friday-night venue of Theatre J — a distinctive, exciting, and progressive Jewish D. C. theatre — offers the University’s drama department wider visibility within the area’s professional theatre scene.”

In Alternative Methods an Iraqi doctor is detained for suspicion of treating an Al-Qaeda leader. With the clock ticking, interrogators must quickly get the doctor to reveal the location of the safe house. A young female interrogation psychologist witnesses severe acts of torture that yield no added intelligence information, so she takes matters into her own hands.

Each of the three plays in the 2011–2012 series will be followed by a panel discussion showcasing experts in law, religion, psychology, and politics, along with cast members, directors, and playwrights.

“We are so excited about the lineup of panelists for Alternative Methods. We have national and international experts on torture who speak with passion and knowledge about this timely topic,” says Hedges.

Featured on the Friday night panel are: Juan Mendez, United Nations Rapporteur on Torture; Glenn Carle, former CIA interrogator and author of The Interrogator; and Leonard S. Rubenstein, former director of Physicians for Human Rights.

On the Saturday night panel are: Carle; Nancy Sherman, professor of ethics at Georgetown University; and Mary Harding, survivor of torture and board member of the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition.

The Reading and Discussion Series continues on March 23 and 24, 2012, with Chance and Necessity by Jon Klein, head of CUA’s M.F.A. playwriting program, and directed by Eleanor Holdridge, head of CUA’s M.F.A. directing program. On April 27 and 28, the last play in the series will be The Unseen by Craig Wright and directed by Sasha Brätt, a Catholic University graduate student in directing.

“The series focuses on new, unpublished or rarely produced works on contemporary issues,” says Holdridge, who developed the series with Hedges. “In choosing the plays for the series, we wanted to find thought-provoking topics that lend themselves to discussion. The most satisfying theatre experiences are those that keep you talking long after the play is over and leave you wanting to learn more.”

All readings take place at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public; no reservations or tickets are required. Panel and audience discussions will occur following each performance, after a 10-minute break.

For more information and for directions to Theater J or the Callan Theatre, go to or call 202-319-4000. To request accommodations for individuals with disabilities, contact 202-319-5367.



More news from CUA