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September 16, 2003

SMU's Meadows School Of The Arts Presents "Our Country's Good" By Timberlake Wertenbaker, Oct. 2-5 And 9-12

DALLAS (SMU) - The Division of Theatre at SMU's Meadows School of the Arts opens its 2003-2004 season with "Our Country's Good" by Timberlake Wertenbaker, a story about the barriers of race, class and education, and the ability of art to transcend them all, in Australia's first penal colony. The play will be performed from Thurs., Oct. 2 to Sun., Oct. 5 and from Thurs., Oct. 9 to Sun., Oct. 12; show times are 8 p.m. Thurs.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun. in the Bob Hope Theatre of the Owen Arts Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd. on the SMU campus. Director of the play is Michael Connolly, SMU associate professor of theatre and head of the acting program. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for seniors and $6 for SMU students, faculty and staff. Parking is available at Hillcrest and Binkley and in the garage beneath the Meadows Museum. For more information, call the Meadows Ticket Office at 214.768.2787.

"This is the first season in which our theatre division will present plays for not one but two weekends in a row," said Greg Leaming, head of directing at the Meadows School. "This gives our students a chance to develop a role over a longer period of time, while giving our SMU and Dallas communities more opportunity to see the kind of terrific work these students are capable of doing."

Winner of Britain's Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award in 1988, "Our Country's Good" is based on the true story of the first convict colony in Australia and the redemptive effect of theatre on their lives. The play is based on the novel "The Playmaker" by Thomas Keneally, the author of "Schindler's List," and is set in 1789, one year after 1500 military personnel and prisoners arrived to colonize Australia. At a time when the colony's supplies and morale were so low its existence was threatened, a lieutenant attempted to produce George Farquhar's comedy "The Recruiting Officer" as a way to lift spirits and secure a promotion for himself. Using convicts, many of them illiterate, as actors, he faced strong political opposition yet showed the power of theatre to transform and humanize even those whom society considered unredeemable.

Director Michael Connolly has been a university professor and actor for more than 20 years. Before coming to SMU, he taught at Penn State and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. As an actor, he recently appeared in "King Lear" at Dallas's Kitchen Dog Theatre and in multiple seasons at the Tony Award-winning Utah Shakespearean Festival., and he is a veteran of regional and national commercials for such clients as Sprint, Nortel and the Cancer Care Centers of America. Connolly received a B.A. from Holy Cross College and a Ph.D. from Indiana University.