CORVALLIS - "Coup-Clucks," a biting, satirical play about racism, will open at Withycombe Theatre on April 4 at Oregon State University, a campus ready to overcome a series of recent incidents.

The timing is coincidental, the play's director says. But the coincidence, he added, may be timely.

"We actually scheduled the production more than a year ago," said Marion O. Rossi, an instructor in speech communication at OSU and director of the play. "Who could have known? But in retrospect, maybe the timing is perfect. The play has a real message that is important to the community."

Coup-Clucks is actually two separately titled one-act plays designed to be performed in conjunction. They were written by Jane Martin, a pseudonym for a successful, yet mysterious playwright, whose works have been described as provocative, timely and "disturbingly important."

"Coups" is set in a small Alabama town on the morning of the 4th of July, where townspeople are preparing for the annual Tara Parade and Ball - dressing up as their favorite characters from "Gone With the Wind." Not surprisingly, some members of the community take offense at the display, while others fret over the absence of a Rhett Butler character, setting the stage for the "coup" of a conclusion.

"Clucks," the second half of the story, takes place on the lawn of Dr. Kennedy, an African- American dentist who just arrived in town. Members of a local Ku Klux Klan chapter show up, bent on revenge for what happened at the parade. The evening progresses through a series of brainless, inept acts of would-be violence and retribution.

An eye-opening resolution ties up the loose ends of both one-act plays "and provides a glimpse of hope for the future," Rossi pointed out.

"Racist rhetoric, violence, the Ku Klux Klan and homophobia are decidedly unfunny," Rossi said. "Yet seen together in the context of Jane Martin's satire, they become catalysts for acerbic humor that allows us to laugh even as we struggle with the realities that foster such beliefs."

The diverse cast includes Steve Fuller, a freshman from Aloha, as Dr. Kennedy; Vreneli Farber, an assistant professor of Russian, as Miz Zifty; and Teresa Ashford, a sophomore from Bend, as Essie. (Other cast member listed below). The sets and lighting were designed by Chris Wood, a senior from Corvallis; costume designer is Marie Chesley, theater arts faculty.

Coup-Clucks has a two-week run, with play dates running from April 4-6 and from April 11-13. Curtain time is 8:15 p.m. daily.

A narrative description for the visually impaired, and signing for the hearing impaired, will be available for the April 12 performance.

Ticket information is available by calling the box office at 541-737-2784. The theater is located in Withycombe Hall, at the corner of 30th Street and Campus Way in Corvallis.

Cast members include:

    ALOHA .. Steve Fuller, a freshman in biochemistry, as Dr. Kennedy

    BEND .. Teresa Ashford, a sophomore in home economics, as Essie; Bianca Weston, a senior in theater arts, as Brenda Lee

    CORVALLIS .. Vreneli Farber, a post-bac in theater, as Miz Zifty; Aaron Fry, a junior in graphic design, as Travis; Steve Massott, from OSU's Office of Admissions and Orientation, as Tooth;

    HILLSBORO .. Matt Byrd, a junior in theater arts, as Ryman

    NEWBERG .. Jason Cooper, a junior in theater arts, as Pritchard

    NEWPORT .. Chris Willemin, a senior in sociology, as Don

    PORTLAND .. Angel Parson, a freshman in pre-nursing, as Beulah

    SHERWOOD .. Ryan Manderfeld, a senior in theater arts, as Bobby Joe

    TEXAS ..

    TEMPLE .. Jon Melde, a junior in pre-medicine and psychology, as Zits.

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Marion Rossi, 541-737-2857