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APSU Department of Theatre and Dance presents “Buried Child” on Feb. 8-12

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Opening Feb. 8, Austin Peay State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance will explore what it looks like when the American Dream fails with a performance of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Buried Child.”

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Opening Feb. 8, Austin Peay State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance will explore what it looks like when the American Dream fails with a performance of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Buried Child.”

The curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. for performances on Feb. 8-11, with an additional showing Feb. 12 at 2 p.m. All performances take place in the Trahern Theatre, with admission ranging from $10 for general public to $5 for students, seniors and military.

The 1978 play that catapulted the playwright to mainstream national fame, “Buried Child” focuses on a “traditional” nuclear family trying deal with life on a failing plot of farmland in Illinois. The play examines the growing sense of disillusionment with the American Dream in the early 70’s. 

Aging parents Dodge and Halie are barely holding on to their failing lives, as well as the failed lives of their grown sons. When a wayward grandson and his girlfriend arrive, no one seems to recognize or remember him as the family dances around a dark, buried secret. “Buried Child” puts comedy, drama and surrealism into a small Illinois farmhouse and brings the audience along for the experience. 

“Buried Child” is the Austin Peay directorial debut of Talon Beeson, assistant professor of acting and directing. Beeson comes to Austin Peay from stints in New York, Los Angeles and, most recently, Chicago, where he taught acting at Columbia College Chicago. A professional actor, Beeson has performed across the country, and has been heard as a voice actor on many TV shows, video games and commercials including "Divorce Court,” “Grand Theft Auto V,” "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” and as the voice of Kingsford Charcoal.

“Buried Child” explores the idea of a family deeply wounded by self-inflicted trauma. While the family remains together physically, it is obvious to the viewer that they are socially and emotionally disconnected beyond any hope of repair. It’s in that all-too-relatable setting that Beeson said he found the potential for exploration as a director.

 “I’ve seen this play done many times and performed as plodding, heavy and very dark,” Beeson said. “My goal as a director was to explore the potential for dark humor within the chracters’ performances and make things funny right up to the moment where it’s no longer funny at all.

“When I was casting, I was looking for people who shared my outlook,” Beeson said. “I was looking for a group that had that right look, played well off of each other’s sensibilities and shared that kind of darker feel that we were going for with this production of ‘Buried Child.’”

For more information, contact the APSU box office at 931-221-7379 or email at boxoffice@apsu.edu. Tickets can also be purchased at www.apsu.edu/theatre-dance/online-ticketing-system.