Patrick Baliani, a prize-winning playwright and University of Arizona professor who has graced the stage of Academy Village’s Great Room several times in the past, will make three encore performances there this fall. Beginning Oct. 5, Baliani will be bringing several short plays by American, British, and Irish playwrights to east side residents through the auspices of the Arizona Senior Academy.
These plays are presented as readings, where the actors concentrate entirely on the pure language of the play without the distraction of elaborate sets, costumes and complicated blocking. After each production, Baliani will lead what in the past have been spirited discussions about the plays – a practice that Academy Village audiences have reported as enriching the experience tremendously.
The play planned for Oct. 5 is the comic “The Problem” by A. R. Gurney, followed by a collection of comedic monologues from other Gurney plays. On Oct. 19, the program will be two of Alan Ayckbourne’s “Confusions” – “Mother Figure” and “Drinking Companions.” The fall offerings will conclude on Nov. 2 with three “Afterplays” by the noted Irish playwright Brian Friel – which draw from characters and situations created by Anton Chekhov. For these offerings, Baliani will employ the acting talents of University of Arizona theatre students and members of the repertories of the Rogue Theatre and other local Tucson theatres.
These programs are free and open to the public. They will be offered in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy Building adjacent to the Community Center at the Academy Village, an active-adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East.
Baliani’s relationship with the Academy Village began in March 2008, as a result of the invitation of residents Richard and Joanne Kronauer. They had attended a humanities seminar he taught at the University of Arizona on modern drama which included play readings. Finding the seminar both stimulating and enjoyable, the Kronauers advanced the idea of bringing Baliani and his actors and their readings to the rest of their Academy Village neighbors.
That spring, carefully edited versions of John Patrick Shanley’s 2005 Pulitzer winner “Doubt,” Chekhov’s last play, the classic “Cherry Orchard,” and Horton Foote’s 1989 play, “Dividing the Estate,” were brought to life. The first two were performed by actors that Baliani brought with him, and the third featured residents of Academy Village who had been cast and patiently rehearsed under his supervision.
Born to Italian parents, Baliani spent his early years in Rome – and brings a cosmopolitan sensibility to his study of theatre. As a prize-winning playwright and recent translator (from Italian to English) of both Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author” and Boccaccio’s “Decameron,” as well as a long-standing career as an educator of honors students at the University of Arizona, he brings an accessibility – and a playful spirit – to his theatre offerings. Academy officials are confident the recently upgraded sound system in the performance hall will increase the accessibility of these theatric productions for everyone.