The New Harmony Theatre, USI’s professional Equity theatre, and USI Theatre, its academic production arm, launch a collaborative effort called The Repertory Project on October 25. The Repertory Project has national appeal, according to Lenny Leibowitz, artistic director for The New Harmony Theatre and assistant professor of theatre at USI.
He said, “Actors Equity Association, the union for professional actors and stage managers in the United States, wrote about The Repertory Project in a recent membership newsletter. Professional actors from across the country clamored for an audition. We selected four brilliant actors from New York and Chicago to work alongside our top theatre students at USI. Together they will bring Arthur Miller’s searing drama, The Crucible
, and Oliver Goldsmith’s glittering Restoration comedy, She Stoops to Conquer,
to vibrant life for our audiences.”
According to Elliot Wasserman, chair of USI’s Department of Performing Arts, “The Repertory Project represents an extraordinary opportunity for our students. They need a practical pathway to the professional stage, and this collaborative effort with The New Harmony Theatre catapults USI into an elite group of universities nationwide that can offer just that. Our acting and stage management students will earn points toward their membership in Actors Equity Association, the gold standard for professional actors and stage managers.”
Leibowitz is directing The Crucible
, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play inspired by the Salem witch trials of 1692. He said, “This is a play I have yearned to direct for some time. I’m struck by the heat the play generates, its lush language, and its terrific and terrifying suspense. The Crucible is a powerful warning against moral tyranny. The belated heroism of John Proctor, the play’s central character, reminds us that the American spirit was forged in dissent and rebellion, and asks us how we retain our humanity when fear becomes the thing that governs us.”
Wasserman is directing She Stoops to Conquer
, a Restoration comedy first performed in 1773. According to him, “This is a rich comedy of great warmth. It paints a picture of an admirable society, but one that is deeply in need of revision that comes through the agency of a wonderful young woman, Kate Hardcastle. Kate is a character in the tradition of great comedies like Much Ado About Nothing, The Taming of the Shrew,
that offer up the wisdom and wiles of women as the means of curing problems both great and small. When the male world is caught up in the ridiculous conventions men themselves have imposed, it takes a woman like Kate to sort it all out.”
The two plays will run on alternate days through November 18. According to Amy Estes, managing director, this classic repertory theatre model will appeal to audiences. She said, “I know our audiences will love the chance to see these two wonderfully diverse plays, featuring many of the same actors in both shows, all in the same weekend if they choose.” Estes continued, “The rep model presents outstanding challenges for both the professional and student theatre artists working on this project. The scenery and lighting must function for both productions with minimal changes. In every area of production, our student designers and technicians are being mentored by The New Harmony Theatre guest artists and our faculty, all of whom are theatre professionals with credits include New York, regional and touring theatre as well as television and film.”
Megan Fallon, a senior majoring in theatre and art at USI, designed the scenery for The Repertory Project. She worked as a painter at The New Harmony Theatre this summer and designed scenery for USI Theatre’s 2007 production of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
. She said, “This project is an exciting challenge for any designer, but to be able to tackle it as a student is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.” Fallon also served as graphic designer for The Repertory Project.
In addition to Leibowitz, Wasserman and Fallon, the artistic team for The Repertory Project includes Shan Jensen (costume designer), director of costume design for The New Harmony Theatre and associate professor of theatre at USI; Craig A. Young (lighting designer for She Stoops to Conquer), lighting designer for The New Harmony Theatre’s 2007 season and assistant professor of theatre at USI; Michele Fugate, a member of Actors Equity Association and The Repertory Project’s production stage manager; and USI seniors Sean Nicholl as lighting designer for The Crucible
, Ryan Nash as sound designer for The Crucible, and Dustin Williams as sound designer for She Stoops to Conquer.
The Equity acting company for The Repertory Project includes New Harmony Theatre veterans Joseph Bowen and Shelley McPherson, as well as Phillip Clark and Mark Irish. All are teaching workshops as well as performing during their time in Evansville. The cast includes Doug Hubbell, associate professor of theatre at USI, recent USI alums Leo Kempf and Greg Schafer, and USI students Jeni Ahlfeld, Addison Blaylock, Kensington Blaylock, Joshua Buente, Amy Dalto, Brandon Eck, Rachael Eckles, JoAnne Gottcent, Preston Harris-Dunlap, Joshua Lenn, Mario Reid, Jasmine Ruckriegel, Susan Ryan, Marielle Scheid, Rachel Schenk, Paige Scott, Natalie Singer, Donald Thomas, and Nicole Whitney.
and She Stoops to Conquer
will be performed at the Mallette Studio Theatre in the Liberal Arts Center. She Stoops to Conquer
runs October 25 – 26 and November 2, 8, 10, 15, and 16. The Crucible
runs October 27 – 28 and November 1, 3, 4, 9, 11, 17, and 18. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets for The Repertory Project productions are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, $10 for anyone 25 or younger, and $8 for USI students. Patrons buying tickets for both productions may deduct $2 per ticket. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the box office at 812/422-3970 or toll free at 1-877-NHT-SHOW (648-7469), or visit www.newharmonytheatre.com