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Last season, the University of Utah Theater Department produced a dramatic version of "Kiss of the Spider Woman" in the intimate Lab Theatre of the Performing Arts Building.

It went on to earn national acclaim as one of three Utah shows to win prestigious American College Theatre Festival honors, including showcase performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.The 1994-95 entry by the U. of U. for ACTF consideration will be a new play written and directed by Jason McCullough, a San Francisco native who is a student in the school's Actor Training Program.

His play is "Elizabeth II." It sounds like a British period piece, but it's not.

According to playwright/director McCullough, it's a contemporary drama about two patients in a mental institution - Lisa S. and Lisa R. - who are coping not only with their own sets of problems, but with being consigned to share a room at the hospital.

McCullough's cast is: Theresa Raunicer as Lisa R., Koranda Banks as Lisa S. and Katherine Heuga as the nurse.

The drama does have some regal overtones.

The two Lisas, according to McCullough, are "like all of us - kings and queens of our own realms."

The play explores the complexity of merging our own individual world views with the social needs of others.

McCullough majored in English at Diablo Valley Junior College in Concord, in the East Bay area near Oakland, but transferred to the U. of U. in the fall of 1993 to join the Actor Training Program.

His plans for the future are to open a small cabaret theater in the San Francisco area, noting that the City by the Bay is predisposed to good theater, but there also seems to be a lack of excellent "little" theaters.

He's never had a course in playwriting, but one of his earlier efforts, "Fish Story," was produced at Diablo Junior College.

Performances of "Elizabeth II" will be Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee on Friday, Sept. 30, at 4:30 p.m. and a Sunday performance (Oct. 2) at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $4 for adults and $3 for students. They're available in advance from the Pioneer Memorial Theatre building box office (581-6961) or at the door prior to performance. All seating in the lab is general admission. There are no reserved seats.

The Performing Arts Building is located just below the campus bookstore.