Western’s Production of ‘Topdog/Underdog’ to Travel to Mexico City

by Alexandra Wiley
Office of Communications and Marketing intern

Western Washington University Theatre faculty Mark Kuntz and Darren McCroom are traveling to Mexico City with five students in the first week of February to present Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Topdog/Underdog.”

The production will also have a two-performance run on campus at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6 on the Performing Arts Center’s Mainstage.

Tickets are $15, and available at the WWU Ticket Office at (360) 650-6146 or tickets.wwu.edu.

Kuntz was asked in the fall of 2014 by the Kennedy Center to attend “Festival Nacional de Teatro Universitario” (“Teatro UNAM”), an international university theatre festival in Mexico City, which Kuntz then attended in February 2014. The festival was eager to begin establishing a relationship that resulted in cross-cultural sharing which led to Kuntz facilitating a student exchange in 2015 with Teatro UNAM.

A WWU senior was sent to Mexico, while a student director from Mexico came to Western. The exchange resulted in two performances at the Teatro UNAM: one directed by a WWU student performed by Latina actors, and one by a Latino director performed by Western students.  The performances were held in Mexico, in Boise, Idaho, and on the WWU campus in Bellingham.

Suzan-Lori Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002 for “Topdog/Underdog,” the first African-American woman to receive the honor.  Kuntz has chosen to present “Topdog/Underdog” in part as a response to the events on campus in Nov. 2015. The invitation to perform at Teatro UNAM provided the opportunity to explore this literature for both audiences in Mexico City and Western’s campus and community.

“Top Dog” revolves around two young African American brothers named Lincoln and Booth attempting to survive in New York City. Lincoln works at the arcade dressed in white-face as Abraham Lincoln where passersby can grab a gun and shoot him.  Booth dreams of financial security, which he tries to achieve though the street game, 3-card Monte. The card game is threaded throughout the dramatic structure of the play.

The production includes scenic design by Assistant Professor Dipu Gupta, and lighting design by Assistant Professor Darren McCroom.

For more information visit cfpa.wwu.edu/event/topdogunderdog or contact Chris Casquilho, College of Fine and Performing Arts manager of Marketing and Special Events at Western at (360) 650-2829 or chris.casquilho@wwu.edu.

Monday, February 1, 2016 - 9:15am