OSU to present David Edgar's, "Pentecost"


CORVALLIS - An international cast of Oregon State University students and community members highlight the upcoming University Theatre performance of "Pentecost," David Edgar's brilliant drama, which in 1995 was termed "the best play of the year" in England.

OSU will stage "Pentecost" Jan. 25-27 and Feb. 1-3 at the University Theatre in Withycombe Hall.

The multi-faceted play revolves around the discovery of a fresco in a former church in a troubled, unnamed eastern European country. Its shocking discovery may lead to a major re-evaluation of western art history, and the chapel's ownership is contested by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox clergy.

A combative group of art historians enters the chapel and are taken hostage by a group of refugees from a dozen countries, seeking asylum in the chapel.

The play raises a number of issues revolving around citizenship, nationalism, loyalty and the ever-shrinking world. It also explores the meaning of culture from the perspective of a country that has been occupied for more than 40 years.

OSU's University Theatre has assembled a large cast, with a number of international students and community members. It includes Irina Nastalovska, from the Ukraine, who portrays Fatima; Sasha Avakova, Russia (Marina); and Setenay Yener, Turkey (Yasmin).

Mirjam Musafija-Girt, on the faculty in the OSU College of Pharmacy and originally from Sarajevo, plays Amira, a refugee from Sarajevo.

Another international student, Vikmukti Weeratunga, is coaching student Christine Nguyen (who portrays Tunu) in Sinhalese dance and language. A native of Vietnam, Nguyen moved to the U.S. at the age of three-and-a-half.

The cast was coached on eastern European languages by Nadia Maggard and Gancho Slavov. Characters in the play speak nine or 10 different languages in the performance.

Other actors from the OSU faculty and staff include Robert Iltis, speech communication, as an American art historian; John Ringle, engineering, as a Bosnian gypsy refugee named Nico; Judy Ringle, philosophy, and chief magistrate Anna Jedlikova; and Joshua Knudson, the OSU Foundation, as the minister of culture, Mikhail Czaba.

Other OSU students in the production include Philip Scott, as a British art historian; Camilla Dahlin, another art historian; George Kahl, who speaks fluent Arabic, as an Azerbaijan resident named Abdul; and Tate Justesen, as Abdul's friend Raif, from Afghanistan.

Also in the cast are OSU students Allison Rhodes (Toni), Andrea Altomara (Cleopatra), Aaron Windeler (Grigori), and Jessica Bochart, Holie Barker and Dan Wagner. Graduate student Mike Sugihara portrays Pusbas, a right-wing organizer; Corvallis resident Tom Bombadil is Eastern Orthodox clergyman Father Bokovich; and OSU student Evan Sether plays Roman Catholic clergyman Father Petr Karolyi. Freshman Chika Agha plays Antonio, a student from Mozambique via Russia and France.

The play is directed by OSU theater arts faculty member Charlotte Headrick, with assistance from Slalane Kelley and Holly Zeuthen. Stage manager for the production is Rebecca Keeling. Richard George is scene designer, and Barbara Mason - a new OSU faculty member - is costume designer.

A discussion will be held after the performance on Friday, Jan. 26. The performance on Friday, Feb. 2, will be signed for the hearing impaired.

"Pentecost" contains language and situations that some people may find objectionable. Tickets, priced at $8 for general admission, $5 for seniors and $4 for students, will be available in the Withycombe Hall box office from noon to 5 p.m. beginning Jan. 22. They also will be available at 6:45 p.m. on performance nights. Curtain time is 7:30 p.m.