The spring semester of a senior year at the University of Kansas usually means floating — savoring your enhanced tolerance for alcohol and hoping your advisers are right when they tell you that your future is laid out before you like some great golden belt just awaiting your notches. Senior Adam Burnett is having none of that. The ambitious playwright and theater major has filled his years (and Lawrence stages) with shows that he has written and directed, including The Sensualist, a stream-of-consciousness exploration of a Dylanesque songwriter, and the globe-straddling musical A Greater Release: A Travelogue. For his grand finale, he's digging where psychological horror and art history meet academic satire. In Nightmares: An Artful Demonstration of the Sublime, which premieres for free at 8 p.m. at the Lawrence Arts Center (940 New Hampshire in Lawrence, 785-608-5467), Burnett imagines a disenchanted professor whose career troubles dovetail nastily with his purchase of John Henry Fuseli's frightening yet sensual painting "The Nightmare." Art and life collide, as they tend to in plays. Burnett himself, who is far from shy, says, "The painting becomes the crux of what will be his sublimely terrifying, irrational, violent downfall."
Thu., Feb. 14, 8 p.m., 2008