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Duke Arts Presents

The Civilians
The Undertaking

Thursday, September 29, 2016 | 8:00 pm

Sheafer Lab Theater

The Civilians, practitioners of investigative theater, create their work like researchers of the national consciousness. They build their kaleidoscopic shows out of hundreds of conversations about life’s most vital questions with regular people and experts alike, then use these conversations as the basis of each script, enlivening their interlocutors’ words with invigorating theatrical style. Topics they have investigated for their deeply engaging and entertaining plays include environmental catastrophe, urban gentrification, animal neglect, and evangelicalism, to name just a few. New York Magazine called The Civilians a “giddily sociological theater company.”

This boundary-breaking troupe presents their newest play, The Undertaking, a creative investigation of one of the last great cultural taboos: death. This piece looks at the ways we deal with the end of life and asks profound questions: what might happen to our bodies and souls after we die, and how does dying change what it means to be alive? The show’s verbatim stories play out as attempts at finding truth, and reflect the complexity, humor, pathos, and idiosyncrasies of our lived experience. The Civilians’ show comes to Duke directly from its premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

*The three evening performances of The Undertaking will be followed by post-performance discussions with Steve Cosson, Artistic Director of The Civilians, and the actors, moderated by Duke faculty members:
Thursday, September 29: Neal Bell, Professor of Playwriting & Screenwriting, Theater Studies
Friday, September 30: Jehanne Gheith, Associate Professor, Slavic Languages & Literature and Education
Saturday, October 1: Tsitsi Jaji, Associate Professor, English and African & African American Studies

Made possible, in part, with support from the Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts & Council for the Arts Visiting Artist Program, as well as the Department of Theater Studies & the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.