The choice of family centers around Watbanaland, the newest play presented by UNT March 2-11

Watbanaland cast members are, from left to right, Nicholas Delgado, Savannah Ela
Watbanaland cast members are, from left to right, Nicholas Delgado, Savannah Elayyach, Taylor Owen and Maya Martinez.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 11:16

What: Watbanaland,a play presented by the University of North Texas' Department of Dance and Theatre, focuses on how one couple is conflicted about having children. The play was written by Pulitzer Prize winner Doug Wright and is directed by Tim Johnson, managing director of Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas.

When: 7:30 p.m. March 2-4 (Thursday-Saturday) and 9-10 (Thursday-Saturday) and at 2 p.m. March 5 (Sunday) and 11 (Saturday).

Where: Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building (RTFP), Studio Theater.

Cost: $7.50 for students, UNT faculty/staff and seniors and $10 for adults. Audience members can purchase tickets at the box office, which is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and one hour before each performance at the Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building. For more information, call 940-565-2428 or visit the box office window during regular hours. Visit the Department of Dance and Theatre online.

Parking: Visit UNT’s transportation services website to learn more about parking, including new rules. Patrons have three options for parking:
1.) ADA/handicapped patrons may park directly east of the Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building (RTFP) in Lot 50 in the designated spaces.
2.) Patrons may pay to park through the app ParkMobile in the Union Circle Parking Garage (Lot 49).
3.) Patrons may park for free in Lot 37, east of Wooten Hall, then take a short walk to the RTFP Building. Visit the fall 2017 campus parking map for more information.

DENTON (UNT), Texas - Watbanaland, the newest play presented by the University of North Texas,takes its audience from life to New York City to a poor African country, as the couple at the center debate whether or not to have children.

The Department of Dance and Theatre will present Watbanaland at 7:30 p.m. March 2-4 and 9-10 and at 2 p.m. March 5 and 11 at the Studio Theatre in the Radio, Television, Film and Performing Arts Building. The play was written by Pulitzer Prize winner and former UNT artist-in-residence Doug Wright, and is directed by Tim Johnson, managing director of Kitchen Dog Theater in Dallas.

Watbanaland focuses on New York City businessman Park (junior theatre major Taylor Owen), whose wife Flo (senior theatre and finance major Maya Martinez), a preschool teacher, wants children but he doesn’t. He had an affair with his assistant Marilyn (sophomore theatre major Savannah Elayyach), who became pregnant with his child that is born with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Marilyn’s boyfriend Dash (freshman theatre major Nicholas Delgado) wants them to move away. And Flo begins to sponsor children from Watbanaland, a fictitious African country, after watching late night commercials on TV.

There are moments in the play when Flo is transported to Watbanaland, but the audience doesn’t know if it’s in her head or actually happening. Johnson will play with the set design, such as reusing objects as the action continues to morph in unexpected ways.

“What I like about it is it blurs the line between naturalism and fantastical,” Johnson said. “I wanted to emphasize the theatricality of the play, not to smooth it out but heighten it.”

The lead actors said they like the challenge of being in the play, with its dark themes.

“It poses interesting questions and it’s definitely very heartfelt,” Martinez said. “It has universal tones and emotions people can relate to.”

Owen especially appreciated Wright’s language and imagery.

“It’s a very human story, with a lot of complicated people dealing with intense issues that you don’t see a lot,” he said. “People will be leaving the show very affected by what they saw.” 

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108