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Arts Dawg preview: The timeliness and timelessness of Fifth of July

The cast of "Fifth of July." (Photo credit: Mike Hipple)

The cast of “Fifth of July.” (Photo credit: Mike Hipple)

When Fifth of July premiered in 1978, it was very much a play of its time. The two-act production followed three generations of the Talley family as they tried to make their way through the muck and mire of an America slowly recovering from the Vietnam War. Fifth of July tackled head-on the continuing debate about the Vietnam War, gay rights, women’s rights, and the ascension of the Baby Boomer generation—all issues, in other words, that still resonate today.

And that’s what first drew the eye of director Valerie Curtis-Newton, ’96. “It’s really another ripple in the current of history of those great social movements,” she said. Fans can learn more on Nov. 14, when Fifth of July will be part of the second Arts Dawg event this season. Curtis-Newton will give a talk about the play at the pre-show reception, which will include complimentary wine and appetizers.

Curtis-Newton said she will discuss the timelessness of Lanford Wilson’s production and its relevance to modern times, despite debuting nearly 40 years ago. Take the gay rights movement: One of the play’s main characters is a homosexual veteran. At the time, the character lived and served in the closet, and “Don’t ask, don’t tell” prohibited openly gay service members until 2011. “All of those movements are still alive now,” Curtis-Newton said. “We’ll recognize these people, and we’ll recognize how they interact with each other.”

If You Go—Walk-ups welcome!

What: Arts Dawg event in conjunction with “Fifth of July.” The event includes remarks from director Valerie Curtis-Newton, ’96, wine and light appetizers.

Where: Meany Hall for the Performing Arts, UW Seattle. The reception will be in the Meany Theater backstage, and the production will be in the Meany Studio Theater.

When: Thursday, Nov. 14; lobby doors and the reception begins at 6:30 p.m., and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Cost: $10 for UWAA members

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