College of DuPage College Theater Presents Sam Shepard’s Satire ‘Curse of the Starving Class’ Oct. 4 to 21 at the MAC

Curse of the Starving Class image

By Ann Fink

College of DuPage College Theater presents Sam Shepard’s dark and biting satire, “Curse of the Starving Class,” directed by Michael Ryczek, Oct. 4 to 21 at the McAninch Arts Center, on the Glen Ellyn campus, 425 Fawell Blvd.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday to Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday in the MAC’s Studio Theatre.

“Curse of the Starving Class” focuses on the Tate family as they fight for control of their rundown farm in the hope of finding freedom, security and meaning in their lives. The Village Voice calls “Curse of the Starving Class” “epic, unpredictable, and deliriously ironic,” and the LA Times describes it as “compelling, explosive theater.”

“Curse of the Starving Class” (1978) is part of a family trilogy that includes “Buried Child” (1979) and “True West” (1980). The first production was staged at the Royal Court in London on April 21, 1977. The first American production was staged at the Public Theater during the New York Shakespeare Festival on March 2, 1978. It was directed by Robert Woodruff and starred James Gammon, Olympia Dukakis and Pamela Reed. It received the 1976–1977 Obie Award for Best New American Play. A 1994 film version starred James Woods, Kathy Bates and Randy Quaid.

The cast for the COD College Theater’s production includes Benjamin Cardinal (Downers Grove), Declan Casey (Hinsdale), Derek Cook (Naperville) and Christopher Lindquest (Naperville), Kyle Nimrick (Lombard), Riley Skalski (Itasca), Chris Turner (Lombard) Aaron Taylor (Westchester) and Elissa Wolf (St. Charles).

Sam Shepard (playwright) was born in 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Ill. and wrote nearly 50 plays including the Pulitzer prize-winning “Buried Child” (1978), “True West” (1980) and “Fool for Love” (1983). In addition to his achievements as a playwright, he was also known as an accomplished actor, screenwriter and director. Common themes in his work explored the myth versus reality of American life, the disparity between past and present and the conflict between fathers and sons. He died in 2017 from complications of ALS.

Director Michael Ryczek is an adjunct faculty member at College of DuPage and has directed a number of student productions including “These Shining Lives,” “All My Sons,” “Dog Sees God,” “Plaza Suite” and “The Velveteen Rabbit.” He has spent the last eight years teaching directing at Columbia College Chicago, where he directed a number of musicals including “Splendora,” “Hairspray” and “The Drowsy Chaperone.” Ryczek freelances in Chicago, where he resides, as an actor and director. He received his bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Roosevelt University and his master’s degree in Theatre from Northwestern University.

Other members of the artistic team for “Curse of the Starving Class” include Michael Moon (set/properties design), Kimberly G. Morris (costume/hair design) and Jon Gant (lighting design). Stage manager is Ed Garzaro. Connie Canaday Howard is Chair of the College of DuPage Theatre Department.

A pre-show discussion with designers and director is set for 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4. There will be a post-show discussion with the director, actors and crew Friday, Friday, Oct. 12. Tickets are $14 for students and $16 for adults. For tickets or more information call (630) 942-4000 or visit Please note: This play uses adult language and themes.

Support for this production is made possible by a generous gift from the College of DuPage Foundation’s Dr. Donald and Helen (Gum) Westlake Fund for Student Productions.

College of DuPage

425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn IL, 60137

(630) 942-2800 (Main)

(630) 942-3000 (Student Services)

  2018 College of DuPage