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SU's Production of 'Mud' Honored by Kennedy Center

SU's Production of 'Mud' Honored by Kennedy Center

SALISBURY, MD---The Bobbi Biron Theatre Program at Salisbury University is known for professional-level productions of live theatre performed throughout the year.

The program recently received recognition both for its full performance of María Irene Fornés’ Mud and for individual student performances from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Performed in full round, the production has been skillfully conceived and directed,” said a Kennedy Center respondent of the Mud performance, adding “I haven't seen this level of clarity and detail from a university-level production in years.”

Mud was one of just five productions in the region to be invited to perform at the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF).

“It really is a huge honor. We’re a small department, and we’re competing with schools that have graduate programs in theatre. It was a big deal for us,” said Mud director Matt Saltzberg, SU assistant professor of theatre.

Along with the performance of Mud, SU students Matt Banister and Jah’Kai Hall were recognized for their individual performances in the department’s fall 2022 production of Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull. They were among 16 finalists selected for individual consideration out of 150 nominated from across the region.

SU’s production of Mud was a challenge due to the small cast and intellectually and emotionally difficult material, Saltzberg said. Three actors — Grace Quade, Spencer Tilghman and Nathan Hawks — made up the cast and shared the stage for the entirety of the production, with no intermission.

The play tells the story of a toxic love/hate triangle as a young woman works to escape rural poverty. Saltzberg employed the services of a fight and intimacy choreographer to help him and the actors navigate the difficult material.

“It deals with poverty, isolation, and emotional and sexual abuse. It is an unrelenting depiction of the subjugation of the human spirit by forces beyond the control of the marginalized,” he said. “To me, the overall function of the play is, it forces you to reconcile that some of us live in abundance and some of us live with nothing, and it’s not because those individuals are bad people. It forces you to confront that and to how vulnerable we are to poverty and ignorance. It’s a very intense play.”

Beyond the honors SU received at the KCACTF, Saltzberg was excited for his student to experience a taste of professional theatre through the event.

“I will always say, my greatest teacher has been seeing the work of others,” said Saltzberg. “Attending KCACTF gives the students a chance to see work from other people, get feedback, participate in workshops and make connections.”

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