Show Previews

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the University of Alberta’s Department of Drama, the Curious Arts blog is sharing 50 Reasons to Go See A Play throughout the 2015-16 season.

Here’s our second in a series of 50 Reasons to Go See A Play, by MFA directing candidate Brenley Charkow (‘98 BFA). U of A Studio Theatre kicks of the 2015-16 season Oct. 15 through 24 with Christopher Durang’s outrageous 1980s comedy, Beyond Therapy, about two singles looking for love and penning personal ads with the help of their wacky psychiatrists.

50 Reasons To Go See A Play
Reason 2: Go See Beyond Therapy To Discover Durang!

Christopher Durang is a Tony and Obie award-winning playwright, director and actor. If you’ve never seen a play by Christopher Durang, go see Beyond Therapy at U of A Studio Theatre! If you have seen Durang’s work previously, then you know you can expect an absurd and darkly ironic comedic treat.

Here are 5 things to know about Christopher Durang:

Christopher Durang. Photo by Susan Johann.

Christopher Durang. Photo by Susan Johann.

  1. Durang broke out in 1977 with a triple premiere

Durang’s play, A History Of The American Film (1976) was accepted as one of 12 plays done by the prestigious Eugene O’Neill National Playwriting Conference. This led to an almost unheard of “triple premiere” in 1977, sharing three back-to-back productions at the Arena Stage in Washington, the Mark Taper forum in Los Angeles, and the Hartford Stage Company in Connecticut.

  1. Stars like Sigourney Weaver have cut their comedic chops on Beyond Therapy

In 1981 he was commissioned to write Beyond Therapy, which was presented off-Broadway starring Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Collins. After a series of re-writes, including a major reworking of the third act, Beyond Therapy made its Broadway debut in 1982, with Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow as Prudence and Bruce respectively.

  1. Durang is a prolific playwright with a career spanning more than 40 years

Other notable Durang works include The Vietnamization of New Jersey (1977); Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (1979); The Actor’s Nightmare (1981); Baby with the Bathwater (1983); Laughing Wild (1987); Betty’s Summer Vacation (1989); The Nature and Purpose of the Universe (1975); ’Dentity Crisis (1978); and most recently, the Tony award-winning Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike (2013).

  1. Durang is a Pulitzer Prize nominee

In 2006, Christopher Durang was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play, Miss Witherspoon. His works entertain and engage in the realm of dark comedy, absurdist drama and satire.

  1. Durang encourages the development of new voices in the American theatre

Durang is currently co-director of the Lila Acheson American Playwrights Program at Juilliard with Marsha Norman. Alumni of the Lila Acheson Playwrights Program have garnered considerable recognition, including productions, commissions, publications, and awards, such as the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole in 2007 and for David Auburn’s Proof in 2001.  

Presenter: U of A Studio Theatre
Event Title: Beyond Therapy by Christopher Durang
Dates: Oct. 15 – 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Matinee Thursday, Oct. 22  at 12:30 p.m.
$5 preview performance on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m
No show on Sunday, Oct. 18.
Venue: Timms Centre for the Arts, University of Alberta
Single show tickets: $12 student, $25 adult, $22 senior, available online now at TIX on the Square and at the Timms Centre box office one hour before each performance.

For full cast, creative and production team details see:


Brenley Charkow
Brenley is a director, playwright and actor originally from the West Coast. She calls Ontario home. She has directed such productions as Mo and Jess Kill Susie (Toronto, ON); Almost,Maine (Stratford, ON), and the world premieres of both The Waves (an adaptation of the novel by Virginia Woolf), and On The Other Side of the World ( a multi-lingual play based on the Jewish Refugees of Shanghai during WWII). This past season, Brenley had the pleasure of interning under Jillian Keiley at the Stratford Festival on The Diary of Anne Frank. She also had the pleasure of assisting at The Grand Theatre ( London), and Acting Upstage and Studio180 Theatre (Toronto). Brenley was shortlisted for the Neil Munro Directors' Project at the Shaw Festival. As an actor, her work has taken her across Canada and throughout the United States. She was a recipient this year of an Ontario Arts Council Creators' grant to continue working on her newest play, 588, about the most successful all-female bomber squad during WWII. Brenley received her BFA in Acting many moons ago from the University of Alberta, and is thrilled to be back on her old stompin' grounds as an MFA Directing candidate. Brenley runs an indie theatre company out of Toronto, Harley Dog Productions.
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