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05/14/92

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Student playwright's work to be staged

STANFORD -- Esperance, a prize-winning play written and directed by Timothy O'Brien, a senior majoring in drama, will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 28-30 and at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, May 31, in the Little Theater in Memorial Hall.

Tickets are $5 and may be purchased at the door only.

The nine-member cast enacts a story described by O'Brien as "a contemporary treatment of the most ancient human mystery." The drama focuses on an old man, found by a gatekeeper and various ministers of the government, and chosen as the token symbol of Homeless Week, which has replaced the period once called Holy Week. The old man refuses to speak or explain his predicament, as the ministers seek to ascertain his identity.

Esperance is part of work O'Brien is doing to form a theater ensemble in San Francisco. The third prize awarded to the play in the 1991 Bay Guardian Playwriting Contest made possible a reading of the work in December 1991 at the New Performance Gallery in San Francisco. The Stanford production will serve as a workshop for a possible fall production as part of the fledgling ensemble's first season in San Francisco.

His goal in producing Esperance, O'Brien said, "is to work closely with a core group of actors to provide a level of choreography and precision that is normally associated with ensemble work. While much new theater and performance art today is based on 'post-modern' notions of alienation, dislocation and fragmentation, I am seeking instead to meld the innovations in the modern theater with more humanistic aspirations."

The project serves as O'Brien's senior project for completion of his drama major. He started at Stanford as a freshman in 1975, left for a decade, and returned recently to pursue his interest in the theater.

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