Tag: theatre

Lawrence theatre arts dept. presents “Love and Information”

The myriad of ways people long for, share and interpret today’s constant bombardment of data and information gets a rapid-fire treatment in Lawrence University’s production of award-winning British playwright Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information.”

A scene from the play "Love and Information"
Hotel housekeeper Erin McCammond-Watts (left) convinces fellow housekeeper Caro Granner to share a secret about something she did in that room. Photo by Billy Liu.

Four performances will be staged in Stansbury Theater May 10-12 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 3. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Written in 2012, the “play” is actually a series of more than 60 thought-provoking scenes and vignettes, some of which are less than a minute long, featuring 17 actors portraying a dizzying array of questioning, frustrated characters. Each explores how we communicate with the people we love, covering the spectrum of human emotions, from comic to tragic.

Known for her minimalist style, Churchill provides dialogue, divided into small, titled scenes that are further grouped into sections, but without location, character names or character relationships. Churchill puts the onus of the details on the production team.

“I told the cast Caryl Churchill looked at life and distilled it down to the equivalent of a stick figure drawing,’” said Kathy Privatt, James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theatre arts, who is directing the production. “Our job as a production team is to create fully-fleshed people in situations, all the while knowing that as specific as we are, each audience member may see or hear something different because ‘information’ just isn’t that concrete.

A scene from the play "Love and Information"
After learning back-yard gardener Xi (Zoey) Lin (left) had phoned in an anonymous tip to the police, family member Dana Cordry is convinced they’ll have to move or hide.

According to Privatt, the play invites the audience to be part of the production by bringing themselves, their experiences and their perceptions to see what they see.

“We’re actively making meaning and asking the audience to do the same – just like we do every day in our lives,” said Privatt. “And just maybe, we’ll recognize ourselves, or remember a time, or understand an encounter a little differently after we share this time in the theatre together.”

Privatt noted that since the play was selected for performance last spring, world events have refocused our national attention on information.

“I assume our audiences may bring some of those perspectives to the performance,” said Privatt.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Fred Gaines Playwright Series showcases student-written plays

Four performances of three original, one-act plays will be presented March 2-4 in Lawrence University’s Cloak Theatre of the Music-Drama Center during the university’s third biennial Fred Gaines Student Playwright Series.A photo of a typewriter.

Curtain times are 8 p.m. each day, with an additional 3 p.m. performance on Saturday, March 4. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, are available at the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

This year’s series of one-act plays features the work of theatre arts majors Olivia Gregorich, Sara Morrison and Isabel Hemley.

“As we all struggle to give voice to our deeply held beliefs, the work of these three inspired playwrights achieve their own artistic coup,” said Jacque Troy, who served as dramaturg for the series. “Olivia mined family memories to craft a clever and insightful coming-of-age story. Sara slyly and hilariously challenges the concerns of contemporary parents. And Isabel sensitively reminds us of the enormity of one’s life changing from the comfortingly familiar to one with endless possibilities and challenges.”

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Oliva Gregorich.
Olivia Gregorich ’17

Gregorich explores communication challenges across generations and balancing home and opportunities far away in “Nineteen.” The story revolves around college freshman Claire Mallory, her mother and her grandmother. A six-month internship in Alaska — Claire’s first extended time away from home — creates tension with her mother, especially when her grandmother’s health comes into question. Gregorich drew upon her own experiences of spending a term abroad in Dublin and a summer internship on the East Coast.

“This play is about distance — physically and emotionally— and is fairly autobiographical,” said Gregorich, a senior from Greenwood. “The career I’ve chosen in theatre means most of my life is going to be spent in cities far away from my central Wisconsin hometown. This play came from some of the sadness I carry with me about this.”

“Despite my awareness of the direction my life is likely to take away from the close-knit, large central Wisconsin family from which I come, I will always closely value that family and the way that I grew up because of them,” Gregorich added. “I realize I can’t have both, but I can remember to make time to maintain my relationships with extended family, even if I’m not always physically present.”

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Sara Morrison.
Sara Morrison ’18

In Morrison’s comedy “What’s Next,” parents prepare a drug intervention for their teenage son only to discover he doesn’t have a drug problem. What he’s actually been hiding from them is his boyfriend.

“My play came from my desire as a bisexual woman to see a ‘coming out of the closet story’ that wasn’t focused on struggle or tragedy, as so many are,” said Morrison, a junior from Skokie, Ill. “I wanted a ‘gay narrative’ that was lighthearted, maybe even silly, because real life so often is more outlandish and ridiculous than we expect it to be.”

In Hemley’s “The Sky and A Couple of Stars,” a pair of just-graduated life-long friends face the prospect of saying good-bye for the first time in their lives. They confront questions of friendship, why we leave those who have been there for us and why we feel the need to move on.

Hemley said the play was inspired by her own best friends’ imminent graduation.

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Isabel Hemley.
Isabel Hemley ’17

“I wanted to explore the complexity of friendship and how it makes us behave, what we sacrifice for our friends’ happiness and what we don’t sacrifice for our friends,” said Hemley, a senior from Minneapolis, Minn. “I hope the audience takes a moment to contemplate the directionality of their own life. I want them to consider whether they own their choices and happiness or if they let others choose for them and feign happiness to placate their friends and family.”

A staged reading of Stefany Dominguez’ Senior Experience, “The Two of Us,” also be presented in conjunction with the Gaines Playwright series.

Dominguez’ partly autobiographical dramedy centers on Samantha, a Latina college coed struggling through life in a mental haze with the support of two male friends. Samantha learns the importance of communication as she comes to terms with herself, who her friends are and the realization everything in life happens for a reason —good or bad.

“The events that happen to Samantha are situations that not just women experience, but especially women of color: sexual assault, mental illness and most of all, self-doubt,” said Dominguez, a senior from Chicago, Ill., who dedicated the play to the memory of her brother, who was murdered at the age of 15.  “It can be hard to find your support system in a college setting and the conversations between Samantha and her friends are not far from ones that I have had with my friends in the past.

A Head shot of Lawrence University student Stefany Dominguez.
Stefany Dominguez ’17

“Every story is relevant, even if it differs from yours,” she added. “Once you can find bits of yourself in others, you will then be able to appreciate all walks of life.”

Timothy X. Troy, J. Thomas and Julie Esch Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama and professor theatre arts, says the Gaines Series is designed to provide two important learning tools.

“The play development process teaches students that plays are not fixed texts,” said Troy, who directs each of the productions. “They do not emerge from the mind of playwright fully formed. Each play depends on the director and actors of the first production to realize its full potential. As playwrights listen and watch actors in the first stage of rehearsal, they’ll hear an awkward line, or face an unanswerable question from actor about the character. That send the playwright back to the keyboard to adapt the scene. When the new are tried in the next rehearsal, we all experience the development process in real time.

“Secondly, for each Gaines Series we assemble a whole company of theatre makers who take on back stage roles in addition to the visible on-stage roles. Each play has it’s own stage managers, student costume and lighting designer, and property assistant. Several students have the opportunity to take on important responsibilities on a smaller scale than our usual main stage production.”

The series honors the work of former theatre professor and department chair Fred Gaines, who taught at Lawrence from 1977-2000 and passed away in 2010. Troy, a 1985 Lawrence graduate, was inspired to launch the series as a way of passing on the wisdom Gaines shared with him as a student.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.”  Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Theatre Arts department presents David Ives’ “The Liar”

The consequences of the lies we tell are unraveled in Lawrence University Theatre Arts department’s production of David Ives’ comedy “The Liar.”

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Junior Maddie Scanlan (left) plays Clarice, the already-married love interest of a young lawyer, while Junior Isabel Hemley (left) portrays Lucrece, her best friend, in four performances of “The Liar.” PHOTO: Ken Cobb

Four performances of “The Liar” will be staged in Stansbury Theater May 12-14 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 14. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Popular French Renaissance playwright Pierre Corneille wrote this comedy in 1643 in the midst of a more tragic series of plays. Described as “a series of breathtakingly intricate lies,” the story centers around Dorante, a young lawyer who comes to the big city in search of romance. He meets Clarice and immediately falls for her, unaware that she is already secretly engaged to his friend Alcippe. In his efforts to woo her, he invents a tale of his amazing military feats, unleashing a web of falsehood that ensnares all of the characters, sparking mishaps, mistaken identities and lie upon lie.

The production is based on Ives’ “translaptation” from 17th-century French to English of Corneille’s original play. Ives considered “The Liar” “one of the world’s great comedies.”

“I felt as if some lost Shakespeare festival comedy on the order of ‘Twelfth Night’ or ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ had been found,” Ives has said.

As a social satire, Ives liked the way the play’s lies are woven into the fabric of things, revealing how lies can feed love and actually create happiness.

He preserved the rhyming in the play’s original verse, but introduced changes that intersect with current audiences in the same way audiences identified with the original.

“We’ve taken that a step further and are using haute couture and installation art to look at ways that history is reflected in today’s visual aesthetics,” said director Kathy Privatt, James G. and Ethel M. Barber Professor of Theatre and Drama and associate professor of theatre arts. “There will be some ‘visual lies’ to go with the lies in the story, such as a wig that isn’t made of hair.”

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Kathy Privatt directs “The Liar.”

Somewhat serendipitously, the timing of the production, according to Privatt, turned out perfectly.

“After choosing the play, I opened the local newspaper to a story about an organization that gives an award for best lie of the year,” said Privatt. “Then the political debate season rolled around and the various fact-checking websites lit up. Suddenly, a piece that lets us examine ways we lie to each other and ourselves seems very appropriate.”

Freshman Marco Mazzetta from Wheeling, Ill. plays Dorante, while Maddie Scanlan, a junior from St. Paul, Minn., portrays Clarice. Senior Matt Johnson from Elmhurst, Ill., plays Geronte, Dorante’s father and Zoey Lin, a junior from Nanjing, China, portrays Cliton, Dorante’s servant.

Junior Isabel Hemley from Grafton and Madison junior Tony Harth portray Clarice’s friend Lucrece and her fiancé Alcippe, respectively. Junior Lauren Abdulm from New York City, plays Isabelle and Sabine, maids to Clarice and Lucrece. Sophomore Rory Coleman from St. Paul, Minn., plays Philiste, Alcippe’s best friend.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” comes to Cloak Theatre

The power of words for good and ill are explored in the Lawrence University Theatre Arts Department’s production of one of Shakespeare’s most popular comedies.

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Kip Hathaway plays Benedick and Olivia Gregorich portrays Beatrice in Lawrence’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Four performances of “Much Ado About Nothing” will be staged in Cloak Theatre Feb. 18-20 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Feb. 20. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

Written around 1598, within a few years of “As You Like It” and “Twelfth Night,” the play’s most well known story features  Beatrice and Benedick, bantering foes who are tricked into falling in love with each other by their well-meaning friends.

It chronicles the almost fairytale world of reunion, celebration, barbarous wit and mischief when Benedick and his fellow officers return from a successful battle and turn their attentions to pleasanter, more domestic matters. That witty world comes crashing down into a still comic, but gentler and more complex reality, where words cause real pain and communicate real love.

According to director Kristin Hammargren, the production is set in Regency England (1811-1820) in order to provide an appropriate context.

“Regency England is a time period that gives us the class distinctions, structured polite society, appreciation for conversation and even the military element (the Napoleonic Wars) that this play needs,” said Hammargren, a 2008 graduate of Lawrence, now a professional actor and teaching artist who is spending Term II at her alma mater as a visiting instructor of theatre arts.

Kristen Hammergard_newsblog
Director Kristen Hammergard

In her writing about the production she notes the production she envisioned is just as important for the coherence of the play as it is for the benefit of the student actors.

“Here you see an environment crafted for the imagination and play of young theatre artists,” Hammargren wrote. “History gives us a setting and a mood, Shakespeare gives us the story and poetry and the students give it all life.”

Olivia Gregorich, a junior from Greenwood, plays Beatrice while Kip Hathaway, a junior from Nimrod, Minn., plays Benedick. Senior Aiden Campbell, from Fort Collins, Colo., is cast as Claudio while freshman Ming Montgomery, from Minneapolis, Minn., plays Hero.

After graduating from Lawrence, Hammargren earned a master of fine arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked with several Shakespeare festivals, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks and Door Shakespeare in Wisconsin. She created an original one-woman show entitled “Discovering Austen,” which she performs regularly throughout the Midwest.

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 book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College” and Fiske’s Guide to Colleges 2016. Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach 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 Lanford Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Rimers of Eldritch”

The question of truth versus appearance is explored in the Lawrence University theatre arts production of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson’s “The Rimers of Eldritch.”

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Courtroom testimony during a murder trial pits residents of Eldritch against each other. (Photo by Nathan B. Lawrence)

Four performances in Stansbury Theatre are scheduled May 14-16 with an 8 p.m. show each night and an additional 3 p.m. matinee on Saturday, May 16. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for students/seniors, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

An off-Broadway hit that won the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award, this poetic, haunting 1966 drama chronicles a month in fictional Eldritch, Mo., a one-time prosperous mining town gone to seed by the mid-20th century, when the play is set.

When the town hermit, Skelly Mannor (played by sophomore Jacob Dalton), is murdered by Nelly Windrod (played by freshman Jenny Hanrahan) in uncertain circumstances, the townspeople must ask themselves how such a crime could be committed in their midst. The subsequent trial, presided over by the Judge/Preacher (played by sophomore Kip Hathaway), peels back the layers of Eldritch to reveal an intolerance and religious hypocrisy the townspeople never wanted to see.

Director Kathy Privatt said the play was chosen for production in part because of the unusual way Wilson tells the story.

“The events of the story are offered in a collage format, not linearly,” said Privatt, associate professor of theatre arts and James G. and Ethel M. Barberr Professor of Theatre and Drama. “This technique offers interesting juxtapositions of scenes happening back-to-back or on top of each other, even though they aren’t that way in time.”

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Kip Hathaway as the Preacher delivers a sermon that puts responsibility for a murder on the entire town of Eldritch. (Photo by Nathan B. Lawrence)

In a review, the New York Times praised the way Wilson “used the art of counterpoint to illuminate the people of Eldritch, a town that is itself an entrapment.”

What the Village Voice once called the “exactness and inner logic” of Wilson’s dialogue are also on display in the play, which is as humane as it is incisive.

Privatt cites an interview Wilson gave when the play was first staged as evidence of this fact.

“At one point, the interviewer asked why Wilson wrote about such losers. Wilson got a shocked look on his face and admitted that he’d never thought of them as losers, but as survivors doing whatever they had to, to survive. He admitted that they might be ‘in deep yogurt,’ but fundamentally, they were just humans who wanted to survive,” said Privatt.

The play’s mix of criticism and compassion is reflected by its title. “Rime” refers to hoar frost, a coating of white crystals that is both beautiful and harsh.

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 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.

 

Student-written plays featured in Fred Gaines Playwrights Series

Four performances of three original one-act plays will be presented March 5-7 in Lawrence University’s Cloak Theatre of the Music-Drama Center in conjunction with the college’s second biennial Fred Gaines Student Playwrights Series.

GainesSeriesArtwork_weblogCurtain times are 8 p.m. each day, with an additional 3 p.m. performance on Saturday, March 7. Tickets, at $15 for adults, $8 for seniors and students, are available at the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.

This iteration of the series explores the impact of genre, covering the gamut from melodrama to farce. It features the work of senior Nathan Lawrence and Claire Conard and Luke MacMillan, both 2014 Lawrence graduates. Timothy X. Troy, professor of theatre arts and the J. Thomas and Julie Esch-Hurvis Professor of Theatre and Drama, directs each of the three plays.

Lawrence’s play, “Happy Birthday, Stephen Jones,” critiques sexism in the work environment through physical comedy. Conard’s “Ren Rising” follows a young woman as she struggles to decide if she should accept her boyfriend’s hand in marriage. MacMillan explores the dangerous consequences of an abusive household environment in “Somewhere North.”

“Most people don’t realize that plays can’t be written in a vacuum,” said Lawrence, an English and film studies major. “It’s difficult to predict how an audience will respond until you see your work performed. Having this experience as an undergraduate is a unique opportunity. It’s rare you get to learn and entertain at the same time.”

The series honors the work of former theatre professor and department chair Fred Gaines, who taught at Lawrence from 1977-2000 and passed away in 2010. Troy, a 1985 Lawrence graduate, was inspired to launch the series as a way of passing on the wisdom Gaines shared with him as a student.

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 2015 and the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.