posted January 5, 2009

Guest Artist to Present “Juliet: A Dialogue about Love”

 Hope College will feature actress Melissa Hawkins in "Juliet: A Dialogue about Love" on Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 15-17, at 8 p.m. in the DeWitt Center studio theatre.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

Based on the true story of playwright András Visky's parents, "Juliet" is the story of a Hungarian woman imprisoned in a Romanian detention camp with her seven children while her husband is in a communist prison. The play tells of a woman's love tested while imprisoned with her children with no chance of survival. Caught in a passionate love triangle between her husband and her God, she makes a final gamble for her life.

When "Juliet" was performed at the 2007 New York International Fringe Festival, "New York Magazine" called it "one of five most promising" plays.  Michael Page, director of Gezon Theatre, has described the play as "A testament to the enduring power of both human love and the love of God."  Greg Wheatley of "Prime Time America" has praised Hawkins's performance, noting, "Melissa Hawkins is stunning as Juliet."

Visky was born in 1957 in Romania, where he resides today. He spent his early childhood in a communist gulag, along with his mother and siblings, while his father, a minister in the Hungarian Reformed Church, was in prison elsewhere. A political dissident by birth, he headed up the underground university during communism and has become an acclaimed writer, poet, and essayist. He is the dramaturg of the State Hungarian Theatre in Cluj, Romania, and an associate professor in aesthetics at the University of Babe?-Bolyai, also in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

Hawkins became a company member of Studio K in Budapest, Hungary upon graduating from Northern Illinois University in 2002 with a B.F.A. in acting. During that year she came across the newly-translated "Juliet." Visky gave her the exclusive rights to the English premiere of the play, and she has been touring throughout the U.S. and Eastern Europe for the past two years.

The play was directed by the late Christopher Markle, who was a member of the faculty of the Northern Illinois University School of Theatre and Dance, and whose directing resume included time with Guthrie Theatre, The Acting Company, and the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival.

The studio theatre is located in the lower level of the DeWitt Center at 141 E. 12th St., on the corner of Columbia Avenue and 12th Street.