University of South Carolina

Original play about women aviators takes ‘Flight’ Nov. 18 - 22

The University of South Carolina’s department of theatre and dance will present the original play, “Flight,” Nov. 18 – 22 at the Center for Performance Experiment, the experimental actor training and performing space at Hamilton College gymnasium.

Show times are 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and 10:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 and available only at the door.

Developed from an idea by university professor Steven Pearson, who will direct the production, and written by fellow professor Robyn Hunt, “Flight” is being produced through their performance company, Pacific Performance Project/east, with support from the USC Arts Institute and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Pearson describes “Flight” as a “theatrical poem” that explores the thrill and daring of the first women aviators. The play’s narrative follows two daring French actresses preparing to make a history-making flight from Paris to Moscow in 1913, a time when, for women, being an actress was considered improper and being an aviator was considered impossible.

Hunt, who is also performing, says the play “shows proof of the exciting inventions and innovations made by women before World War I, in spite of the fact that those stories have seemingly dropped out of history.”

July 25, 2009, marked the 100th anniversary of the first flight across the English Channel, made in a Bleriot XI monoplane. “Flight’s” major set piece is an exhaustively researched replica of the aircraft flown by many aviation pioneers. The director received construction help from the actors in the production, which save them a unique hands-on feeling for the courage required to fly one of the fragile wooden-and-canvas planes.

Other actors include graduates Jen Burry and Eric Bultman, undergraduate theater major William Shuler and guest Lee Fitzpatrick. Another MFA graduate, Brian Hanscom, is assistant director for the production.

“Flight” is the third in a trilogy of original plays that Pearson calls “riffs” on the works of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov. In all three plays, Pearson uses a different Chekhov play as inspiration to create a new work. The first, “Balance,” was a reverie on Chekov’s “The Three Sisters.” The second, “Gravity,” used the play, “The Cherry Orchard,” as its jumping-off point. “Flight” references characters and themes from “The Seagull.”

“All of the plays involve work, allowing actors to do real physical work,” said Pearson of the trilogy, which he began in 1999. “I’m very interested in that. I’ve also been very interested in connecting the figurative and literal meanings of each of the plays’ titles — ‘Balance,’ ‘Gravity’ and ‘Flight.’ After I started working on ‘Balance,’ it wasn’t long before I realized that there should be three plays. Part of the decision had to do with the strong women in these three Chekhov plays, and Robyn was key to that element.”

For more information about “Flight” or the Center for Performance Experiment, contact Kevin Bush at 803-777-9353.


  • What: Original play based largely on Anton Chekhov's “The Seagull”
  • Who: University professor Steven Pearson will direct
  • When: 8 p.m. Nov. 18 – 22, plus 10:30 p.m. Nov. 22
  • Where: Center for Performance Experiment, Hamilton College

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 11/12/09 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 11/12/09 @ 5:20 PM | Permalink