Sue Ott Rowlands, the new Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, will perform Mark Evans Bryan's "Mud Nostalgia," a one-woman play, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Building's black box theatre (204). The performance is free and open to the public.
The playwright, Bryan, will join Ott Rowlands for a post-performance discussion. The event is sponsored by the English Department's Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Program.
Ott Rowlands, who joined Virginia Tech on July 15, has performed this play internationally in venues in Taiwan, India, New Zealand, Italy, Hungary, and across the United States. “Mud Nostalgia” reveals a “crisis of faith moment.” It follows a woman as she prepares to sing during services at her church that evening, the sort of church which most people would call “a snake handling one” but that she doesn’t. As she remembers a childhood journey across America by car, she reveals the frightening truth about an attempt on her life that took place the previous night.
The piece, which Ott Rowlands commissioned Bryan to write, is derived from her research in the victimization of women in American religious practices, particularly in court cases involving “snake handling” in the south and the Ohio River Valley.
“Mud Nostalgia” is actually part two of a two-play set written by Bryan entitled “Mercury Seven with Signs Following.” The first part of that set is entitled “Middle True.” Both incorporate non-linear story-telling, circular lyric language, and the reliance on the solo voice.
"We're delighted that a writer as gifted as Bryan is visiting our campus and working with our MFA students, and we're thrilled to have an actor as talented as Ott Rowlands here to perform his play,” said professor Ed Falco, director of creative writing and the MFA program. “Playwriting is a deeply collaborative art and this performance will serve as wonderful example of that for our students."
Bryan’s work has been published in the Kenyon Review, The Journal of American Drama and Theater, and the Blackwell Companion to Twentieth-Century American Drama. He is an historian of performance and of Rural America between Reconstruction and the First World War.
Ott Rowlands’ career has spanned higher education administration, university teaching, arts administration and professional theatre. She continues to work actively as a theatre professional and travels extensively as part of her ongoing efforts to establish and promote international study abroad opportunities and international arts exchanges. She is considered an authority on acting technique and international arts collaborations.