Starring a cast of students, community members and professional actors, the College of the Canyons theatre department will present Peter Schaffer’s Tony Award-winning adult drama “Equus” as the final production of the spring semester.
Chronicling the disturbing journey of Alan Strang, a young man who seems to have a passion for horses, but whom is harboring darker desires, “Equus” has been hailed for raising a number of thought-provoking issues which often leave audiences deep in thought, long after the production has ended.
The story unfolds as psychiatrist Dr. Martin Dysart is confronted with Strang, after the boy has recently blinded six horses in a violent fit of passion. While this sense of passion is as foreign to Dysart as the act itself, to the boy’s parents this transgression is a hideous mystery. Because Strang has always adored horses, the case presents a psychological puzzle that is eventually solved, live on stage.
“The play’s power, I believe, is found not so much in its plot-driven mystery, but more in the way it reminds us of the need to create meaning in our lives through a real connection with our passions,” said John DeMita, COC theatre instructor and director of the production.
“Equus” originally opened at the National Theatre in 1973 to worldwide acclaim. During the 2008-09 Broadway season the production enjoyed a successful revival starring “Harry Potter” stars Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths in the lead roles of Alan Strang and Dr. Martin Dysart, and “True Blood” actress Anna Camp as female lead Jill Mason.
“‘Equus’ hasn’t lost any of its impact in the nearly 40 years since it was written,” added DeMita. “I myself first saw it on Broadway in 1975, at the age of 16, and can remember being immensely impressed by the show’s theatrical spectacle.
“Today I find myself even more deeply moved by this intimate, human story about the vital relationship between a troubled child, the adults in his life and the courage necessary for true self examination from all those involved in this dynamic.”
The cast of “Equus” includes a mix of COC theatre department regulars and other well-known members of the Santa Clarita Valley theatre community.
Current Valencia High School theatre arts director, Stephen Whelan, whose experience includes starring roles and directing credits in several COC theatre productions, has been cast as Dr. Martin Dysart, in a role the veteran actor calls a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Meanwhile, longtime COC stage actor Timmy Jasperson — who previously starred in the COC productions of “Death of a Salesman” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” — returns to play the starring role of Alan Strang.
Also featured in the cast will be: stage, screen and voice actress Peggy Flood as Hester Salomon; COC theatre instructor and professional actor/director and puppeteer Allan Trautman as Frank Strang; longtime performer Heather Frame, making her third appearance in a COC production, in the role of Dora Strang; and COC trained actor Rachel Andrea Cox, who will be transferring to CalArts in the fall, in the role of Jill Mason.
The COC theatre department’s production of “Equus” will open Thursday, May 17, and run for one weekend only on the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center main stage. Performances will be held at 8 p.m. May 17-19, and 2 p.m. May 20.
This production contains nudity and mature content. Parental discretion is advised for minors. Children under the age of five will not be allowed in the theater.
General admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for COC students and senior citizens.
For more information about the COC theatre department’s production of “Equus” or to purchase tickets please contact the PAC Box Office at (661) 362-5304 or visit www.CanyonsPAC.com.