The lines of control between men and women were easily blurred this weekend during a screening of the play "Venus in Fur" at the Flying Anvil Theatre.
During a preview of the Knoxville play, viewers were able to see an immense case of role reversal between male and female. "Venus in Fur," written by David Ives, focuses on topics such as sex, dominance and control between the sexes.
Staci Swedeen, executive producer of Flying Anvil Theatre, the downtown Knoxville theater is fairly new.
"We are a new non-profit organization here in Knoxville, formed in 2011," Swedeen said. "It is a two-character play, essentially about the battle of the sexes, with a little bit of magic thrown in at the end."
The theater itself has a small, comforting environment for both the actors and the viewers. The setting allows the performance to be more intimate, as the viewer is only a few feet away.
The play opens with a playwright, Thomas, who is played by actor J.D. Sizemore. Thomas holds auditions for a new play that is loosely based on a well-known erotic novel. He meets a woman who initially comes to audition, but soon becomes something else as the two read off the script. The play's format is that of a story within a story.
Jayne Morgan, director of Flying Anvil Theatre, has years of experience in theater. She describes the play as "very challenging for the actors."
"We held an open audition and local actors came," Morgan said. "We tried to find people who not only fit the roles, but kind of play off of each other."
At some points of the play, it is hard to tell whether the two are acting out the script of "Venus in Fur," or merely debating as playwright and auditioning actresses. The characters play off of each other easily, making the build-up and ending of the play unexpected, yet enjoyable and understandable.
"Venus in Fur" as a whole is a play for a more mature audience. The language and topics are appropriate for adults. For a good portion of the play, lead actress Carolyn Corley dons only a dominatrix outfit, and the use of profanity is quite prevalent throughout the showing.
While the play focuses a great deal on sex and domination, the play also brings controversial issues to the forefront in regards to the treatment and expectations of behaviors of women versus men. It is very comedic, as well, and it bounces easily from dramatic to humorous, and back again.
Morgan said she is ecstatic to be able to return to "her first love" of theater after traveling around the country for a few years.
"We chose this play because we had taken Staci's play 'Pardon Me For Living' to a festival in Charleston in May," Morgan said. "This was one of the plays we saw being offered over there and we thought, 'Wow, that is a cool play,' and we wanted to do it here in Knoxville."
The Flying Anvil Theatre will be hosting more showings of "Venus in Fur" throughout the month of November. A pay-as-you-go preview is available Oct. 30, with the gala opening Friday, Nov. 1.
Other showings will be Nov. 2-3, 7-10 p.m. and Nov. 14-17 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door.
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