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Department of Theatre and Dance

  • Female actor on left in white and black suit showing a vindictive expression, with logo for The Visit on the right.

The Visit | April 5-12, 2024

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The USC Department of Theatre and Dance will conclude its 2023-2024 season in “epic” fashion with a production of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, April 5-12 at Drayton Hall Theatre.  

Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with additional 3 p.m. matinee performances on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7.  Admission is $15 for students, $20 for USC faculty/staff, military, and seniors 60+, and $22 for the public. Tickets may be purchased online at Drayton Hall Theatre is located at 1214 College St., across from the historic USC Horseshoe. 

Profound questions of class, greed, and ethics infuse Dürrenmatt’s 1956 classic. When the world’s wealthiest woman, Claire Zachannassian, makes a long-awaited return to her impoverished hometown, she arrives with a vindictive agenda and a devil’s bargain – she’ll gift the town an extravagant fortune in exchange for the life of the man who abandoned her decades before.  What follows is a test of the town’s moral fortitude and an unsparing, darkly comic look at the easy corruptibility of justice. “A strong and powerful tragicomedy and an indictment of the corrupting influence of money…" – The Week

Guest artist Craig A. Miller, a 2004 graduate of USC’s MFA in Directing program, has returned to his alma mater to direct the production. In the 20 years since graduating, Miller’s thriving theatre career has seen him found two theatre companies (Chicago’s East Window Theatre Company and Houston’s Texas Repertory Theatre, which he started alongside other USC alums); serve as the Artistic and Education Director at the 6th Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa, CA; and, direct over 150 productions at regional theatres around the country.  Miller is currently an Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing at the University of Idaho.

Dürrenmatt wrote The Visit as a work of “epic theatre,” a theatrical style popularized by influential theatre artist Bertolt Brecht in the early 20th Century that emphasizes the artificiality of the theatrical experience as a means of encouraging audiences to engage with a play’s issues intellectually rather than becoming caught up in the story from an emotional perspective. Miller says this production of The Visit leans heavily into that Brechtian aesthetic.

“The main thrust of the experience of epic theater is that the audience is constantly reminded that what they're seeing is artifice,” Miller explains, “so that they're able to actually digest the social issues [of the play] – issues of injustice and personal morals – without getting swept up in any level of sentimentality.”

To help achieve this highly theatrical experience, Miller is turning many of the script’s stage directions into spoken dialogue and encouraging the cast to embrace a presentational, rather than psychological, acting style.  Additionally, audiences can expect to see the production’s technical components, normally hidden from view, brought to the forefront. From visible lighting instruments to the bustle of backstage crew and onstage costume changes, audiences will enter a world that is unapologetically artificial.

“This production peels back the layers and exposes what is underneath,” Miller says. “Even the theatre space in Drayton Hall itself is being imaginatively stripped of its artifice, allowing the truths of humanity to be laid bare.”

The show’s stylistic aims notwithstanding, audiences can expect an entertaining show that more closely resembles outrageous farce than dark drama.

“What’s fun, and what we’re already experiencing in rehearsal, is that the show is very wacky and lighthearted until… it’s not,” Miller says. “When we land on a serious note, we pump the brakes so that the audience can ponder. It’s enormously fun because then the next scene starts and it’s like the moment didn’t even happen.”

The production’s large cast includes graduate acting students Dominic DeLong-Rodgers, Olan Domer, Didem Rudhi, Elaine Werren and Elizabeth Wheless, and undergraduates Maggie Davisson, Zachary DeYoung, Eliza Dojan, Jake Downs, Reese Elwood, Cameron Eubanks, Koby Hall, Rafe Hardin, Vaibhav Kishore, Morgan Passley, Claire Runyan, Asher Thompson, and Rachel Vanek (as Claire). The play’s production design is by graduate design students Ashley Jensen (scenic), Lindsay Wilkinson (costume), and Lorna Young (lighting), and guest artist Danielle Wilson (sound).

“People will love this show because it is about dirty secrets of injustice being exposed and the karmic revenge that follows,” Miller says. “If we do our job well, the audience will have a great time and then walk out thinking, ‘What would I do?’”

For more information on The Visit or the theatre program at the University of South Carolina, contact Kevin Bush by phone at 803-777-9353 or via email at  





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