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National Players to perform 'The Scarlet Letter'

RScarlet Letter ImageELEASED: Feb. 8, 2011

EAU CLAIRE — The National Players will perform "The Scarlet Letter" March 1 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The Artists Series will present the theatrical adaptation of the great symbolic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne — a drama of romance, revenge and redemption set during the times of Puritan law — at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

Celebrating its 62nd season, National Players is America's longest running classical touring company. Its young professional actors introduce audiences to great works of literature that are rich in exciting stories and characters. Their productions inspire imagination and wonder, spark curiosity about the self and the world, and celebrate what it means to be human.

For the most part, Carol and Jonathan Gilligan's play is a straightforward adaptation of "The Scarlet Letter," set in 17th-century Boston and driven by Hester Prynne and her bold and defiant choices.

"The plot stays the same," wrote The New York Times. "Hester Prynne is ordered by Puritan elders to wear the letter 'A' after she has given birth out of wedlock."

But this "Scarlet Letter" is now a memory play told from the point of view of a young woman with a daughter of her own. It is an opportunity for Hester's daughter Pearl to re-visit a pivotal moment in her young life so that she may empower herself with the knowledge that will help her come to terms with her own familial discord.

"Moving beyond the issues of sin and guilt in the eyes of a community, we are confronted with a text that in 2011 raises even more questions about sexual liberation, gender roles, religious and government hypocrisy, the perpetration of fear, the sacrifices we make for love, and what it means to be a single mother," says director David Gram. "Like any good work of theatre, it challenges the audience to confront these moral issues head on by asking: What would you do?"

"Cookies for a Cause," an Artists Series initiative to spotlight nonprofit community organizations, continues. Cookies made especially for the program by Blugold Dining will be sold ($2, cash only) at the performance, with profits going to benefit Bolton Refuge House. Bolton Refuge House provides emergency shelter, education, support, children's services, options counseling and legal advocacy to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Tickets for "The Scarlet Letter" are $17 for the public, $15 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, or $7 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Tickets for students are half-price, $3.50, until the day of the event. On the day of the event, students must pay the full student-ticket price.

Patrons also may charge their tickets to Discover, MasterCard or Visa when ordering by phone. Call 715-836-3727 or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free 800-949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee is added to all telephone charge orders.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the state of Wisconsin. The series also is funded in part by Visit Eau Claire ... The Unexpected Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio, WHYS Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge Hotel & Suites (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

The Artists Series is funded by the students of UW-Eau Claire and administered by the Activities and Programs office of the University Centers.

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JS/DW

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