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All That Jazz

University Theatre takes on the rhythms of Pulitzer-winning Water by the Spoonful
Michael Teague, Meghan Small and Allie Murakami in Water by the Spoonful
Michael Teague, Meghan Small and Allie Murakami in Water by the Spoonful

Theresa May, associate professor of Theater Arts at the University of Oregon, is directing University Theatre’s current production of Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Pulitzer-winning drama, Water by the Spoonful. The play tells the story of an Iraq War veteran readjusting to civilian life.

May says the play is about two intersecting worlds. “One is the world of a Puerto Rican family in Philadelphia,” she tells EW. “The other is a world of online members of an addiction chat room and support group.”

“It’s about connection, it’s about community, it’s about family,” May continues. “It’s about the way that we parent, the way we sometimes parent people who are not our children. We parent backwards in time. We parent sideways. We parent our neighbors.”

May says she’s attracted to plays that tell stories of underrepresented members of our society. “That’s a priority for me,” she adds. Hudes is a Puerto-Rican American playwright.  “It has very interesting roles for students, and it has something to say that’s worth saying,” May says.

“The play is in a sense ‘jazz as a play,’” she continues. “It has the rhythms of jazz, and one of the main characters is a professor of jazz.” The structure of the play, she notes, borrows from free jazz. “In this play, the playwright is taking two stories that don’t necessarily go to together and crashing them together and you get some really interesting dissonance as well as resonance.”

Water by the Spoonful runs Jan. 21-31 at University Theatre.