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USD Theatre Goes Medieval

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Tyler Wilson and Taylor Gravert rehearsing on stage for the upcoming production of The Lion in Winter. Tyler Wilson and Taylor Gravert (from left to right) rehearse for the upcoming production of “The Lion in Winter.”
VERMILLION, S.D. – The University of South Dakota’s Department of Theatre introduces its audiences to the mother of all dysfunctional royal families with “The Lion in Winter.” The show runs Nov. 19-21 and Dec. 2-5 in the newly remodeled Wayne S. Knutson Theatre, featuring comfortable new seating, improved accessibility, new entrances, and technological upgrades.
This witty comic drama, or dramatic comedy, is a perennial favorite of theatregoers everywhere, having had many acclaimed stage productions and award-winning film and TV adaptations. It’s 1183 and Henry II of England must decide which of his three sons will inherit his kingdom after his death. He lets his wife Eleanor out of prison for Christmas, and everyone makes a grab for power, love or survival. They attack one another with words and weapons like only medieval royals can.
Associate Professor Raimondo Genna is excited to direct his first live show since the pandemic. “‘The Lion in Winter’ is an amazing play filled with political and familial intrigue, love, hate, and a complex investigation of legacy and identity,” he said. “Though it is set in 1183, its anachronistic speech and thinking invites audiences into the world of the play to explore this complicated family.”
Brittney Lewis, senior B.F.A. design and technology student, designs the costumes, hair and makeup for her thesis project. “‘The Lion in Winter’ has been a great opportunity because it’s my first historical show, giving me the chance to research a time period unfamiliar to me,” said Lewis. “We are building most of the pieces for this show from scratch, fitting them to the silhouettes of the 12th century. It’s been a privilege to see my designs custom-created for the stage.”
Taylor Gravert, senior B.F.A. musical theatre student, takes on the role of Henry’s queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. “Eleanor is a very poised and mature character, whereas the other roles I’ve played have been more of the younger, innocent ingenue type,” Gravert said. “It has been a lot of fun to play a role outside of my type and explore what that’s like.”
“The Lion in Winter” performs Nov. 19 and 20 and Dec. 2 through 4 at 7:30 p.m. with matinee performances on Nov. 21 and Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. in the Wayne S. Knutson Theatre on the USD campus. Tickets ($15 Adults, $12 Senior Citizen [62+], $10 K-12 & non-USD students with ID, and free for USD students with ID) can be purchased in the afternoons (12-5 p.m.) starting Nov. 12 at the USD Theatre Box Office or by calling 605-658-3484; tickets can also be purchased now online at
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USD’s College of Fine Arts encourages students to pursue their chosen professional field in art, music or theater through their study with nationally recognized faculty who are working professionals. Students learn and grow to be professional fine artists with great job potential anywhere in the country. The college offers opportunities for additional real-world experiences through work with guest artists, study tours abroad and opportunities at the National Music Museum and the University Art Galleries on the Vermillion campus and the Black Hills Playhouse in Custer State Park. The college brings more than 80 guests artists to campus annually to work with students.
Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News


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