Siena Offers First of Two World Premiere Plays

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LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. — The meaning of being citizen and the risks people might take to allow someone to be free are among the topics examined in the Best Possible World, a world-premiere play opening this week at Siena.

Gary Maciag, pictured, directs the Siena College International Playwrights Competition and the current production Best Possible World. Mahmood Karimi-Hakak, Ph.D., is producer of the Theatre Series at Siena College. The cast includes six Siena students.

This is the first of two world-premiere plays being offered at Siena this semester, Gary said. Both involve international playwrights who are working with our students, he added.

Best Possible World, by Tee O’Neill, winner of the Siena College International Playwrights Competition, looks at issues of citizenship, racism, family and home. The characters and events were inspired by asylum seekers the author lived with in Donegal, and by the death of Zhao Liu Tao, a 29-year-old Chinese student living in Dublin, who was murdered in January 2002: the first recognized death as a result of a racist attack in the Republic of Ireland.

This play is also a response to Australia’s treatment of political asylum seekers. Best Possible World examines the lives and stories of asylum seekers from Bosnia, Croatia, Congo and Afghanistan. At the end of the first act, the Bosnian woman assumes the identity of her Australian English teacher. The second act looks at the political and personal ramifications of this act, when the Australian woman returns to her home, putting both women’s existences in jeopardy.

Tee O’Neill is a published and widely performed playwright as well as a lecturer in script and creative writing. Her plays have been performed in Australia, England, Ireland and the United States.

Best Possible World will be performed at Siena College’s Beaudoin Theatre from Feb. 14 through Feb. 17 as well as at 2 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 18.

Siena College’s Creative Arts Department offers a major degree program, minor field of study, and Theatre Certificate Program.

A second world-premiere play Benedictus will be performed at Siena in April. Gary will act in this performance.