Bug Will Get Under Your Skin

Press and Guide Staff/Dearborn Press and Guide/June 1, 2016: p. 31

“Bug”– a psychological horror story on stage through June at Henry Ford College — promises to get under audience’s skin.

Nominated for three Drama Desk Awards, the play was written by Tracy Letts, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright.

Dr. George Popovich, HFC director of theater and director of the Virtual Theatricality Lab, will direct the college’s production. The play debuted at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill, London, England on Sept. 20, 1996.

Letts adapted “Bug” into a 2006 feature film directed by Oscar-winning Filmmaker William Friedkin and starring Michael Shannon, Ashley Judd, Lynn Collins, Brian O’Byrne and Harry Connick, Jr.

The majority of “Bug” occurs in a seedy hotel room where Agnes – a lonely waitress who’s addicted to cocaine – lives. Agnes is on the run from her violent ex-husband Jerry, who was just released from prison. One night, her friend R.C. introduces Agnes to Peter, a Gulf War veteran who may or may not be AWOL.

Agnes becomes involved with Peter, who is paranoid about the war in Iraq, UFOs, the Oklahoma City bombing, cult suicides and the American government conducting secret experiments on soldiers. To make matters worse, there’s a hidden bug infestation in her hotel room that has both Agnes and Peter dealing with scathing welts and festering sores, which Peter believes is the result of experiments conducted on him during his stay at an army hospital.

Their fears soon escalate into the realm of paranoia, conspiracy theories and twisted psychological motives. In fact, Peter eventually draws Agnes into his paranoid delusions. From there, the play chronicles her slow descent into madness under Peter’s influence.

HFC’s production of “Bug” will be a participating entry in the Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival. Founded in 1969 by Roger L. Stevens, the founding chairman of the Kennedy Center, the KCACTF is a national theater program involving 18,000 students from colleges and universities nationwide and has served as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater throughout the United States. Since then, the KCACTF has grown into a department, where artists showcase their work and receive outside assessment from KCACTF respondents.

During the June run of “Bug,” KCACTF delegates will travel to HFC to judge the production. The entire production is eligible to be named a regional winner and invited to the regional festival in January 2017.

“We are here to serve our theater students, many of whom will be transferring to four-year BFA acting programs,” Popovich said. “When our students enter the real world of theater, they will encounter a vast variety of plays from comedies to tragedies to musical theatre to edgy, controversial plays. We aim to expose our students to a variety of shows so they will be prepared to compete. The more variety an actor has, the more employable they are. We recently did a spate of comedies and light fare: ‘Fools,’ ‘The Good Doctor,’ ‘Hairspray’ and ‘A Christmas Story.’ ‘The Diviners’ and ‘Bug’ represent our foray into the dark side of theater.”

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