Tag: theatre arts

Lawrence Honoring Retiring Faculty Members Richmond Frielund, Richard Yatzeck at June 15 Commencement

It’s easy to understand why Richmond Frielund is a fan of “do-overs.” Early in his career he was the beneficiary of one.

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Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Richmond Frielund

Frielund, who has helped stage more than 100 Lawrence University productions, and Richard Yatzeck, who led Lawrence students on a dozen summer-long treks through Eastern Europe, will be honored Sunday, June 15 as retiring faculty members for their combined 82 years of teaching at the college’s 165th commencement.

Frielund, associate professor of theatre arts, and Yatzeck, professor of Russian, will be recognized with professor emeritus status and awarded honorary master of arts degrees, ad eundem, as part of the graduation ceremonies on Main Hall green.

Five years after joining the Lawrence theatre arts department as technical director in 1979, Frielund left for what he thought was a better opportunity at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. It turned out to be a less-than-ideal fit.

“I was thankful I saw my job listing and I reapplied for my old job and wound up getting hired back,” said Frielund, who rejoined the college in the fall of 1985.

In a largely behind-the-scenes career spanning a total of 44 years, including 10 before coming to Lawrence, Frielund has directed set and lighting design for more than 100 Lawrence play, opera, musical and dance productions and has assisted with more than 200 others outside the college, including concerts for Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi and Kenny Chesney, several touring Broadway musicals, including “Phantom of the Opera” and “Wicked” and a visit by then President George W. Bush to Appleton, for which he received a White House citation of thanks. Unfortunately his name was misspelled on it.

“I have found fulfillment in doing some shepherding,” said Frielund, a native of Duluth, Minn. “You’re in the back and you just keep things going. I take great pleasure in coming up with something and seeing how other people can use it well.”

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Backstage is where Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Richmond Frielund has made his mark as Lawrence’s technical director for 34 years.

Among all the productions he’s had a hand in, three in particular still stand out in Frielund’s mind: A 1980 performance of “The Crucible,” 1998’s “Sweeney Todd” and a 1999 staging of “Translations,” which was selected to go to the American College Theatre Festival.

“For the production of ‘The Crucible,’ Campbell Scott (’83) played John Proctor when he was 19 years old. That was the first big part he’d had, but that’s not the only reason I remember that show,” said Frielund. “I had built this ceiling piece. It was sitting on the floor and as we hoisted it up, part of it stayed in the air and the other part flopped back down on the floor. It wasn’t quite back to square one, but it certainly was a teaching moment for us all.

“The single, salient most significant memory of my career at Lawrence was in 1998,” Frielund added. “We did a production of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ and this was the first time we did a rehearsal at Bjorklunden. There were all of these really good singers rehearsing and I walked in the door and heard ‘Swing your razor high, Sweeney,’ and this huge, huge beautiful, glorious sound hit me. I thought to myself, ‘This is what Lawrence can really do well.’”

Frielund says it’s the beginnings and endings of a term or academic year that turn him reflective.

“I can’t tell you how many times on a day when a term is starting or its the end of the year, I will have a very warm feeling for this place. I just stop and think, ‘Thank God I’m here.’ This place doesn’t operate like a lot of institutions and for that I’m thankful.”

“The times I’ve spent working with students in the shop, painting scenery, showing kids how to build things, how to focus lights, those are my fondest memories.”
       — Associate Professor Richmond Frielund

Prior to Lawrence, Frielund taught for two years at the University of Michigan, where he once had a freshman in a dance class by the name of Madonna Louise Ciccone, who “weighed 85 pounds soaking wet, but she was a really good dancer, to what extent she bothered showing up.” He wound up giving her a ‘C.’

“She had other interests,” recalled Frielund, 64. “She didn’t come back to school and I heard she’d gone off to New York. I had no idea that the Madonna on the radio was the same person I had in class until I read a magazine article about her.”

Brushes with celebrity aside, thoughts of working with students in the theatre department’s back corners are what make Frielund smile.

“The times I’ve spent working with students in the shop, painting scenery, showing kids how to build things, how to focus lights, those are my fondest memories.”

Professor of theatre arts Timothy X. Troy and Frielund’s department colleague the past 17 years, said Frielund believed the study of theatre in performance and design anchored a student’s engagement in the liberal arts generally.

“Rich’s tradition of a fully integrated approach to production and curious exploration of each play’s themes and social context will mark our department well into the future,” said Troy. “Rich taught us all to respect a developmental model of theatre education: let success build upon success until students integrate an ever-widening understanding of the richness and complexity of the theatre tradition.”

In retirement, Frielund will be involved in December performance of “The Nutcracker” at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. He also hopes to do some teaching at Appleton’s Renaissance School.

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Professor of Russian Richard Yatzeck

Yatzeck, 81, began organizing every-other-year trips to Russia and Eastern Europe with former professor George Smalley shortly after he joined the faculty in 1966. Traveling in seven Volkswagen buses, as many as 35 students would participate in the trips throughout the continent.

“The (Lawrence) authorities at that time thought it would be a good idea. I’m not sure why they did because everybody else asked us if we’d get back alive,” said Yatzeck, who calls the biennial trips the highlight of his teaching career. “They were certainly good for my oral Russian.”

Those trips — as well as two stints (1991, 1997) as director of the ACM’s study-abroad program in Krasnodar — inspired him to chronicle his experiences in the 2012 book Russia in Private,” a collection of his observations of Russian life.

During one of the longest teaching tenures in Lawrence history — 48 years — Yatzeck taught the finer points of Tolstoy, Pushkin and Dostoevsky. A self-proclaimed non-fan of the modern world, Yatzeck says he would have preferred living in the time of the writers he now teaches.

“Basically, the only way to amuse yourself was to read and that’s what I’ve done all my life and so in some ways I feel as if I still live in the 19th century,” said Yatzeck, who has never owned what most would consider a present-day necessity — a television. “Part of being happy teaching at Lawrence is a lot of my work is spent reading and preparing for classes and the thinking that goes along with it. When you read a book you have to make your own pictures so that you’re exercising your imagination. What is this guy saying, what would it look like.”

A close second to his passion for Russian literature is his love of the outdoors. An avid hunter and fisherman, early in his teaching career Yatzeck was known to occasionally wear his hunting boots to class for a quick jaunt to the woods or the lake in the fall afternoon’s fading light with his Main Hall colleagues Peter Fritzell and Michael Hittle of the English and history departments, respectively. The three were dubbed “The Rod and Gun Club” by former Lawrence historian Anne Schutte.

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Long-time colleague and hunting partner Professor Emeritus of English Peter Fritzell described Professor of Russian Richard Yatzeck, seen here in his Main Hall office, as “one of the greatest readers among the faculty.”

Fritzell said the three friends “came to know each other as only outdoorsmen can.”

“Sleeping in tents together, discussing poems, novels and historical events around campfires, in boats and duckblinds, we   engaged in fairly high-drawer philosophical arguments, enjoying gourmet lunches on tailgates of trucks with our bird dogs or ice-fishing on Lake Winnebago,” said Fritzell. “Dick would often pull from his scholar’s shoulder-bag a bottle of the very best Slivovitz and we’d toast the end of the day, the placing of the last tipup, or, if we were lucky, the first fish on the ice.”

Yatzeck has always maintained his perspective and never considered teaching as merely paying for the time that he could go hunting or fishing.

“They are quite different things. The business about hunting is you switch off your intellect and you listen to your senses. Something smells or you hear or taste something and your intellectual powers are in abeyance and that’s a nice rest. But that isn’t how you teach.”

“What I like best is when one of the students teaches me something I’ve never noticed. That, I feel, is the height of teaching, when you can learn from your students.”
            — Professor Richard Yatzeck

Yatzeck’s scholarly work includes a dozen published poems, but he also has written extensively about the outdoors, including 11 articles for Gray’s Sporting Journal, the New Yorker of outdoor literature. His first book, 1999’s “Hunting the Edges,” is a collection of his musings about the philosophical, not the practical, aspects of the outdoors.

In a career spanning nearly five decades, Yatzeck says he never counted the days or the years, they “just added up by themselves.”

“Monday has never seemed a time to curse to me. I never felt I was going to a job,” said Yatzeck, who got hooked on Russian as a German-speaking Fulbright Fellow in 1955 after meeting a red-headed Russian woman in Hamburg, Germany. “What I like best is when one of the students teaches me something I’ve never noticed. That, I feel, is the height of teaching, when you can learn from your students.”

In addition to more trips to the lake and woods and visits with children in Chicago, St. Louis and London, Yatzeck hopes to pen a third book in retirement about his youth in the rural village of Genesee, Wis.

“I have always looked back at that as a model. I’ve written a couple of short pieces about individuals who lived in that village but I’d like to write some kind of account of life at that time. In 80 years a great deal has changed.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Spring Theatre Production Celebrates the Absurd

Lawrence University’s theatre arts department celebrates the theater of the absurd with four performances of its spring production “‘B’Srd Shrts,” a program of four short plays May 15-17 in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center.

Performances are 8 p.m. each night with an additional 3 p.m. matinee Saturday, May 17. Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence box office, 920-832-6749 or boxoffice@lawrence.edu.

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Freshman Kara Taft, senior Shallion Dixon and sophomore Aiden Campbell rehearse a scene from the Samuel Becket’s “What Where,” one of four tributes to the theater of the absurd in Lawrence’s production “‘B’Srd Shrts.”

The production is an artistic attempt to exploit the world of the absurd through relatively unknown works. Each play, 10-15 minutes long, represents a different era of the theatre of the absurd, a dramatic genre that employs disjointed, repetitious and meaningless dialogue, confusing situations and plots that lack logical development.

Each of the plots are unforgettable: Antonin Artaud’s 1925 “Jet of Blood,” calls for severed limbs to rain from the ceiling. “What Where,” Samuel Beckett’s final play, explores concepts of torture and interrogation. Caryl Churchill’s “This is a Chair” includes politically charged titles  — “The War in Bosnia,” “Genetic Engineering” — to each scene while the action is entirely unrelated to the titles. The fourth play, Johnny Meyer’s “Cryptomnesia,” was specially commissioned by Lawrence as an example of current perspective on absurdist theatre.

Timothy Troy and Kathy Privatt, professor and associate professor of theatre arts, respectively, share directing duties for the production, each overseeing two of the plays.

The inclusion of “Cryptomnesia” in “‘B’Srd Shrts” grew out of a meeting between Troy and Meyer at the Great Plains Theatre Conference. The Austin-based playwright’s “rigorous and playful writing” impressed Troy enough to extend an offer.

“It seemed natural to ask Johnny to write a piece so we could include a current perspective on the century-old absurdist impulse in theatre,” said Troy. Prior to launching a career as a playwright and actor, Meyer served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The production’s unique title was a deliberate choice on the part of the production team. Trying to simplify the complex ideas found within works of absurdist theatre, is “an impossible task” according to senior Ciara Stephenson, the production’s dramaturg.

“How do you simplify the ideas of plays that are simply not capable of being defined?,” said Stephenson. “These playwrights do not intend for the plays to be understood by our definitions of intellectual understanding. The ideas are about discovering self and human instinct.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

It’s “All About Life” When Wild Space Dance Company Performs April 12 in Stansbury Theatre

The elements of life become an exhilarating tangle when members of Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company present “All About Life” Saturday, April 5 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theatre.

Tickets, at $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749.

WildSpace_AllAboutLife_newsblogThe performance features Wild Space affiliate artists Mauriah Kraker, Monica Rodero and Daniel Schuchart in the evening-length collaborative work.

“All About Life” unfolds like a memoir in chapters that present the deep and disconnected aspects of daily life. The show weaves together a number of smaller stories to present a larger picture of life with all its expectations, reality, endings, beginnings and secrets.

Wild Space Dance Company has served as a company-in-residence at Lawrence since 2000, bringing professional dance to the Lawrence community and providing students principles of dance art in performance through classes and workshops taught by company artistic director Debra Loewen and members of her company.

Named 2011 Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board, Loewen has led Wild Space Dance Company for more than 25 years. Known for its site-specific dance events and artistic collaborations, the company merges dance with visual art, architecture and music to create inventive choreography and emotionally-charged performances. It has toured performance work to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, South Korea and Japan.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play “Street Scene” Comes to Stansbury Theatre Feb. 20-22

Four performances of Lawrence University’s production of Elmer Rice’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Street Scene” will be staged Feb. 20-22 in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center.

Performances are at 8 p.m. each day with an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors (free to LU faculty staff and students), are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

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Jenny Angeli ’15 (Anna Maurant) and Matt Johnson ’16 (Lippo Fiorentino) rehearse a scene from “Street Scene.”

Set entirely on a front stoop and surrounding street in New York City, the play follows a neighborhood through one 24-hour period in the summer of 1929. At the center of the story is the Maurrant family: Anna Maurrant, a woman struggling with infidelity; her abusive husband, Frank; and their daughter, Rose, and son, Willie. More than 30 other characters make their way into the plot, which addresses themes of despair, love and dreams among the diverse inhabitants of the neighborhood.

Director Kathy Privatt, Lawrence professor of theatre arts, says the play’s setting is critical to its action.

“Elmer Rice is absolutely giving us a slice of neighborhood life in a section of the city he describes as a ‘mean quarter,'” said Privatt. “Think of a melting pot of ethnicities all crammed in an apartment house together before the Crash.”

The close quarters heighten tension in the many complex relationships the play reveals, questioning the verbal conflict to which audiences are often exposed while watching theatre.

“The play is really a snapshot of how we communicate, and how often we don’t, even though we’re talking, talking, talking,” Privatt added.

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Isabel Hemley ’16 portrays Rose Maurant and Jacob Dalton ’17 plays her father, Frank Maurant, in the upcoming production of “Street Scene.”

In a particularly collaborative effort that underscores the symbiotic relationship between the theatre arts department and the conservatory of music, the play will be staged mere weeks prior to Lawrence’s production of Kurt Weill’s opera adaptation of “Street Scene” March 6-8.

“We thrive on collaboration,” said Privatt. “The sum really is greater than the parts and this dual production project lets us collaborate and creatively ‘feed’ each other in fabulous ways.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Theatre Arts Department Presents “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball”

Four performances of Lawrence University’s production of “The Sweetest Swing in Baseball” by Rebecca Gilman will be staged Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center.

Performances are at 8 p.m. each night with an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 2. Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Sweetest-Swing-_newsblogThe play follows Dana, a struggling artist recovering in the hospital from a mental breakdown. When insurance won’t cover hospital bills for more than ten days for a mere depression diagnosis, she devises a plan to extend her stay by pretending to be Major League Baseball player Darryl Strawberry. The other patients in Dana’s ward—an attempted murderer and a good-natured recovering alcoholic—assist her in fooling the hospital staff.

Adopting Strawberry’s persona, Dana discovers similarities between the tragic slugger’s life and her own, fueling confidence in her unique artistic voice. In the play, Gilman, whom Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones deemed “one of America’s most talked-about and sought-after playwrights,” uses a comedic lens to address serious issues ranging from health care and mental illness to the intersection of art and commerce.

The play was chosen for production in part because of the way it fit into the theatre arts department’s interdisciplinary vision according to Professor Timothy X. Troy.

“We’ve been teaching Gilman’s plays in our department’s curriculum for many years, so we were eager to find a play we could do well in support of that curricular objective,” said Troy, who directs the production.

Madeline Bunke, a senior from Brookfield, portrays Dana, a role that also serves as her Senior Experience  for her theatre arts major.

“Madeline first read the play in class a couple years ago, so she grew with the character long before she even knew she had the chance to portray Dana,” said Troy. “The role is difficult and challenging. We’re lucky that Madeline brings her steely focus, her keen insight and her wide-ranging talents to the role.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Theatre Arts Professor Tim Troy Discusses “War of the Worlds” Hoax; WPR Comes to Lawrence Oct. 28 for Live Broadcast

Lawrence theatre arts professor Tim Troy will be the guest on this Sunday’s (Oct. 27) broadcast of Wisconsin Public Radio’s “University of the Air.”

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Professor Tim Troy talks about the “War of the Worlds” broadcast Sunday, Oct. 27 on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “University of the Air” program.

Troy joins hosts Norman Gilliland and Emily Auerbach at 4 p.m. for an hour-long discussion of one of broadcasting’s greatest hoaxes, Orson Welles’ broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the famous Oct. 30, 1938 Mercury Theatre airing of an adaptation of H. G. Wells’ novel “The War of the Worlds.”

Check your local listing or listen online at http://www.WPR.org/

Norman Gilliland will come to Lawrence on Monday, Oct. 28 for a live broadcast of his show “The Midday” from 12 noon to 1 p.m. in Harper Hall in the Music-Drama Center. The public is invited to attend, admission is free.

The broadcast will feature three musical performances by Lawrence students:

• Jonathan Fagan, jazz and classical piano

• the Quartet Masque  —Andrea Johnson and Sophie Yang, violin; Kyle Stalsberg, viola and Mariatonia Longhi, cello

• the bluegrass quartet Involuntary String Band — Martha McDonnell, fiddle, Davey Harrison, mandolin, Ilan Blanck, guitar and Nick Allen, bass.

The program also will be taped by Wisconsin Public Television for a future broadcast.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2014 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Theatre Arts Department Presents Irish Historic Drama “The Plough and the Stars”

Irish playwright Sean O’Casey’s dramatic story on Ireland’s revolt against British rule will be retold May 9-11 in four performances of Lawrence University’s production of “The Plough and the Stars.”

Performances will be staged in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center at 8 p.m. each night with an additional 3 p.m. matinee Saturday, May 11. Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors (free to Lawrence students/faculty/staff with I.D.), are available at the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Written just a decade after the “Easter Rising,” an armed insurrection staged in 1916 with the goal of ending British occupation of Ireland, “The Plough and the Stars” explores the events leading to the uprising as experienced by working-class occupants of a Dublin tenement house. Ten years after the uprising, O’Casey’s poetic portrayal of the still-sensitive subject matter sparked a riot at the play’s 1926 premier at the Abbey Theatre.

“Sudden political changes can spark unforeseen social consequences including divided families, civilian casualties and a crisis of faith in social institution,” said director and Professor of Theatre Arts Timothy X. Troy.”Our production will be thoroughly rooted in the close quarters of a tenement house in Dublin, highlighting the local accent, use of idiomatic language and how people with a variety of perspectives lived in same household.”

Employing both heartbreak and humor, O’Casey’s play focuses on the social and political complexities of the Easter Rising without glorifying violence in the name of freedom.

Junior Erik Morrison, an English and theatre arts major from Denver, Colo., spent the 2012-13 fall term studying theatre in Dublin.  He was cast in the production as Captain Brennan of the Irish Citizen Army.

“It’s great to be able to thank my Irish friends by doing a play central to their history and one that honors what’s best about Ireland and the Irish in times of crisis,” said Morrison. “I couldn’t think of a better play for such a bitterly polarized time in our own country.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

New Student Playwriting Series Honors Former Theatre Professor

Three original one-act plays will be presented in Lawrence University’s first biennial Fred Gaines Student Playwrights Series Feb. 28-March 2 in the Cloak Theatre of the Music-Drama Center, 420 E. College Ave.

Tickets, at $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, are available at the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749.

The series, which honors former theatre professor and department chair Fred Gaines (1977-2000), who passed away in 2010, features the work of juniors Emma Brayndick and Zachary Cooper and 2012 graduate Reena Novotnak, who is participating in a year-long internship at The Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, in one night of student-written theatre.

Cooper’s “It’s All Happening at the Zoo” takes place during one frustrating rehearsal of Edward Albee’s famous absurdist play “The Zoo Story.” Brayndick’s “Shifts” is a half-hour slice of life that explores relationship dynamics of four characters in a small used bookstore. “While Our Eyes Adjust,” written by Novotnak, examines the emotional lives of three young art students.

Brayndick said her “Shifts” was inspired by a discussion of the dichotomy between a private conversation and a public setting.

“I had a thought for a couple of characters working in a bookstore and it just sort of grew from there,” said Brayndick, who is neither directing or acting in “Shifts.” “The ‘take home’ message, as corny as it might seem, is be yourself and surround yourself with the people who understand and encourage that you, whoever that may be.”

While she enjoyed writing the play, Brayndick said it’s been even more fun watching it come to life in rehearsals.

“As an actress I have always worked with words from the other side, so it has been an interesting challenge to write a play, but very rewarding to find out that it works outside of my head. That actors can take something that was once just a germ of an idea I had and fill it with life is very rewarding.”

Timothy X. Troy, professor of theatre arts and 1985 Lawrence graduate, launched the play-writing series as a tribute to his former teacher and later department colleague.

“My dear hope is that through our biennial Gaines Series, I can pay forward some of the wisdom I learned from Fred by guiding young artists who are making theatre with each other, for each other,” said Troy.

The three plays selected for the inaugural Gaines Student Playwrights Series were culled from works that originated in Troy’s 2012 play writing class.

“Each class member, all the faculty and staff of the theatre arts department voted on a slate of three plays they thought would work best together as an evening of engaging theatre.”

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Lawrence University Presents Benjamin Britten’s Comic Opera “Albert Herring”

In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten, Lawrence University brings the great British composer’s hilarious coming-of-age comic opera “Albert Herring” to the stage Feb. 14-17.

Performances in Stansbury Theatre of the Music-Drama Center are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.  Feb. 14-16 with a 3 p.m. matinee performance Sunday, Feb. 17.  Tickets, at $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Originally set in 1900, guest director/choreographer Nicola Bowie transports the production to 1947, the year Britten wrote the opera.

“It is a period that resonated with me, and I believe further serves to accentuate the characters, making them more relevant to an audience in 2013,” said Bowie, an accomplished director who has staged operas with the New York City Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington Opera, among others.  “It proved to be a perfect fit, emphasizing that life in many rural areas of Britain and probably elsewhere has changed very little over the last few hundred years.”

Intricate and Witty

Pairing an intricate but “listenable” score with a witty libretto, “Albert Herring” parodies life in a rural British village, poking fun at puffed-up politicians, flighty school teachers, vapid vicars, bumbling police officers and an assortment of other eccentrics. But his treatment of shy young Albert’s coming of age has an underpinning of sensitivity and genuine emotion.

When the village committee fails to find a local girl virtuous enough to be crowned queen of its May Day festival, Albert, a virginal “mama’s boy,” is crowned May King instead. Unhappy with his prudish reputation and with the help of with the help of a little spiked lemonade, Albert breaks away from his mother’s domination and the suppressive morals of his elders for a night of debauchery and adventure.

While comic in tone, the opera is as musically complex as any the more serious works penned by Britten, named the most frequently performed opera composer born in the 20th century by Opera America.

“’Albert Herring’ is a wonderful learning experience for our students because it features a large cast of characters, each of whom has significant musical, dramatic and vocal challenges,” said Bonnie Koestner, associate professor of music at Lawrence and vocal coach for the production. “With its theme of a young man’s awkward journey to manhood and independence, it is an ideal dramatic subject for college students.  This opera is a major undertaking for undergraduates, but our students have risen to the challenge admirably and are prepared to give our audience a very entertaining evening of musical theatre.”

The double-cast production features junior Ian Koziara and senior Issa Ransom as the titular character. Junior Zoie Reams and sophomore Elizabeth Vaughan play Albert’s overbearing mother. Senior Cayla Rosche and junior Gabriella Guilfoil play Lady Billows, an elderly autocrat, while senior Susan Borkowski and junior Graycie Gardner play Florence, Lady Billows’ companion.

Octavio Mas-Arocas conducts a 13-piece orchestra. Karin Kopischke served as the production’s costume designer and Steve Barnes designed the set. Dave Owens served as technical director while 2004 Lawrence graduate and New York City-based consultant Aaron Sherkow served as the production’s guest lighting designer.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.

Wild Space Dance Company Bringing “Luscious Layers” to Lawrence University

Weaving together nature, music, prose and a generous helping of humor, members of Milwaukee-based Wild Space Dance Company present “Luscious Layers/Fevered Sleep” Friday, Jan. 11 at 8 p.m. in Lawrence University’s Stansbury Theatre.

 Tickets, at $10 for adults, $5 for senior citizens and students, are available through the Lawrence University Box Office, 420 E. College Ave., Appleton, 920-832-6749.

The performance features Wild Space affiliate artists Monica Rodero and Daniel Schuchart, and vocalist/performer Amanda Schoofs in an evening of original work and premieres.

“Luscious Layers” fuses the sweet and forbidden, dreamy desires and tempting realities into full-bodied dances, including “In This Condition,” a solo piece about objects, actions and places that flows from spoken word to Mozart through movement, and “Here,” a duet blending dance and vocals.

Wild Space Dance Company has served as a company-in-residence at Lawrence since 2000, bringing professional dance to the Lawrence community and providing students principles of dance art in performance through classes and workshops taught by artistic director Debra Loewen and members of her company.

Named 2011 Artist of the Year by the Milwaukee Arts Board, Loewen has led Wild Space Dance Company for 25 years. Known for its site-specific dance events and artistic collaborations, the company merges dance with visual art, architecture and music to create inventive choreography and emotionally-charged performances. It has toured performance work to Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, South Korea and Japan.

About Lawrence University
Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the Fiske Guide to Colleges 2013 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Individualized learning, the development of multiple interests and community engagement are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries. Follow Lawrence on Facebook.