Moravian Theatre's Next Stage
Look for more student-initiated productions, greater collaboration with Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre, and the start of post-performance discussions this year, as Moravian College Theatre Company continues to broaden its scope under the direction of Christopher Shorr, visiting assistant professor of English. Rehearsal is underway for the season's first production, Betty's Summer Vacation by Christopher Durang, which will run October 1-4 in the Arena Theatre.
"One of my goals for theatre at Moravian is to stimulate discussion on campus—that's why I chose this play to begin the season," said Professor Shorr. "It's shocking and provocative." The play is a satirical commentary on the culture's insatiable appetite for scandal and violence.
Shorr, who came to Moravian last fall, has encouraged students to take the lead in more of MCTC's productions. The 2008-09 season opened with a student-written play, Transdition, and concluded with an evening of student-directed one-act plays. This season will include two student-directed plays—The Fountain of Fair Fortune directed by Becky Kolacki '10 and Waiting for Godot directed by Alanah Cervantes '12—as well as a student cabaret. The Fountain of Fair Fortune (November 12-15) will be a world premiere of the play, which will be performed as a workshop production. "It was Becky's idea," said Shorr. "She heard a reading at a Harry Potter national convention and discussed it with the playwright, Lena Gabrielle. She's agreed to attend some rehearsals."
"Collaborating with Touchstone exposes students to a high level of artistic achievement and strengthens our connection to the community," said Prof. Shorr.
The Theatre Company will continue its partnership with Touchstone Theatre, Bethlehem's community-based professional ensemble theatre company. Members of the Touchstone staff will serve as technical directors— mentoring students about lights, sound, and set construction—for Moravian's full productions. In addition, Touchstone will present a reading of Clytemnestra's Daughters, a new play by Shorr that will be performed by a cast of Moravian students and Touchstone ensemble members. (The play also was the basis of a SOAR project for Kolacki and Cervantes, who researched source materials and helped explore themes and character motivation for a revision of the script.)
"Touchstone is a nationally-recognized theatre company that is highly connected to the community through service and outreach. Collaborating with Touchstone exposes students to a high level of artistic achievement and strengthens our connection to the local community," added Shorr.
The founder and former director of Sycamore Rouge, a professional performing arts center in Petersburg, Virginia, says he seeks to increase collaboration on many fronts. Shorr is working with other faculty members to identify themes that can be integrated with courses, so that students can attend a play, then follow-up with a related assignment for the class.
Also, beginning this season, post-production discussions will be held on Friday evenings. "Faculty, students, and the public are invited to join us after the Friday night performance of each play for a discussion with the actors and directors," he said. "It's an opportunity for people to learn more about the subject and themes, and about the process and art of theatre itself."