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Noah Brody ’94 Co-Directs NYC Revival of Into the Woods

By University Theater on December 16, 2014

Ben Steinfeld and Noah Brody

As a film adaptation of the musical Into the Woods is hotly anticipated in theaters, Colgate alumnus and Bound Brook, New Jersey native Noah Brody ’94 will be co-directing a revival of the musical in New York City with colleague Ben Steinfeld.

The production, presented by Fiasco Theater, is a unique approach that features a cast of only 10, with both co-directors also assuming on-stage roles. Brody is actually playing three different characters in the story.

To learn more about the the production, check out a question and answer with the co-directors on the Roundabout Theatre Company blog.

Christian DuComb co-authors article on flash mobs with Jessica Benmen ’16

By University Theater on December 2, 2014

Cover of Performance ResearchChristian DuComb, Assistant Professor of English in the University Theater, and Jessica Benmen ’16 have co-authored an article in the latest issue of Performance Research titled “Flash Mobs, Violence and the Turbulent Crowd.”

On the evening of 30 May 2009, thousands of teenagers descended on South Street — a lively shopping district on the edge of Center City Philadelphia — in a turbulent gathering that the local press quickly labeled a “flash mob.” A few dozen outliers in this adolescent crowd turned violent, and in the first three months of 2010, four more violent flash mobs erupted in the city.

Through an analysis of these raucous events, DuComb and Benment argue that the structural similarity between violent and non-violent flash mobbing runs deeper than the use of eail, social media, and mobile technology as organizing tools. Regardless of whether they act with whimsy or aggression, flash mobbers disrupt the tightly laced social and spatial conventions of the contemporary city. Their actions thrust street-side spectators into what dramaturg Eugenio Barba calls “a sudden vortex,” a performative encounter that “shatters the security of comprehension and is experienced as turbulence.”

Seeing the Beast to open Wednesday

By Christian DuComb on November 10, 2014

Seeing the Beast Performance PosterHuman beings are paving the road to extinction for animals everywhere. But what if we could bring the wilderness back? What if we could tip the scales so that ecosystems would restore themselves? What if we could turn down the dial of the deer population and turn up the dial of foxes, wildflowers, and songbirds? What if we could revive the majestic creatures from the forgotten age of the Pleistocene? Perhaps we can. If human beings can’t avoid playing God, then why not do a better job?

Seeing the Beast, an original theatrical creation made by Colgate students and visiting artist Scott Sheppard, challenges you to re-wild Planet Earth.

Seeing the Beast is an original piece of theatre created over a two-month rehearsal period. The student ensemble devised this based on research, observation, writing, improvisations, and performance assignments under the guidance of the director, visiting artist Scott Sheppard.

Tickets are limited! Call 315-228-7641 or e-mail TheaterBoxOffice@colgate.edu for reservations.

Allison Spanyer ’16 interns at Opera House Arts, explores London theater

By University Theater on November 3, 2014

Theater major Allison Spanyer ’16 writes in to the theater program about her recent theater experiences beyond Colgate:

“Over the summer, I worked as the Lael Stegall Memorial Intern at Opera House Arts in Stonington, ME as a technical assistant, wardrobe crew and assistant director… I’m currently [studying abroad in London,] taking a course called Contemporary Theatre and Culture where we go see a performance every week. We’ve seen some new shows such as Dr. Scroggy’s War and Ballyturk as well as some older shows like The Crucible and Electra.”

Check the theater newsfeed for more firsthand accounts from theater students, showcasing the myriad possibilities of a theater education at Colgate!

Jungmin Kang ’16 interns at Glimmerglass, studies abroad in Korea

By University Theater on November 3, 2014

Theater major Jungmin Kang ’16 writes in to the theater program about his recent theater experiences beyond Colgate:

“I had a theater-related internship over the summer and I’m seeing some great theater here in Korea [where I am studying abroad]… [O]ver the summer I interned with the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. I was the music intern, but somehow I got cast as an extra in Madame Butterfly.

I also made good friends with a lot of the production staff, and got to see how a large-scale performance company really pulls the shows together. In Korea I’m taking a Criticism in Performing Arts class, which [involves] seeing a lot of the local theater and writing reviews. It’s really great, and there’s a lot I’m learning, although there are also things that are frustrating, after Colgate’s theater and the NYC plays I saw.”

Check the theater newsfeed for more firsthand accounts from theater students, showcasing the myriad possibilities of a theater education at Colgate!

Upcoming colloquium with Una Chaudhuri

By Christian DuComb on October 23, 2014

Poster for Professor Chaudhuri's lectureOn Tuesday, October 28 at 4:15 in 105 Lawrence Hall, Professor Una Chaudhuri of NYU will deliver a talk titled “Animal Acts for Changing Times: In Search of a Theater of Species” as part of this semester’s Arts and Humanities colloquium series. As a complement to this semester’s University Theater production, Seeing the Beast, Professor Chaudhuri’s talk will address the use of animals and animality in contemporary theater and performance.

Read more

Two dance workshops coming up in October

By University Theater on October 8, 2014

There will be two dance workshops during the month of October that students are encouraged to attend:

Kasai’s Voice Power, a workshop with Mariko Endo
October 18, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m., Ryan 212
Campus calendar

Partnering Dance Workshop with Phoenix Dance Project
October 24, 2014, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Huntington 202
Campus calendar

Both workshops require reservations!  Please email Professor Tanya Calamoneri at tcalamoneri@colgate.edu.

Theater major Charlotte Arbogast ’16 reports on her summer research

By University Theater on October 7, 2014

This summer, I worked with Professor Sweeney and Colgate graduate Ben Mandell ’14 to bring the site-specific productions of LONEtheater to New York City. In this project, Argentinean director Matías Umpierrez wrote five plays, each intended to be performed in one of five different locations in New York City. As the production team, we all helped to make this intention a reality.

LONEtheater as a project aims to immerse spectators in a theater piece of their choice, placing them in a unique theater experience in which each spectator is alone with the actor(s). Each spectator is asked to respond to the piece, and even to become an active member of the performance he chooses to see. In the New York City-based project, spectators could choose from five productions: Pact, Witness, Far, Exodus, and Amnesia. Each piece asked something different of its spectators. Some spectators commented that they felt nervous in this position, as though they had a role to fill and they were not sure what this role should be, but they also seemed excited by this challenge.

April Sweeney on the subway

Professor April Sweeney in Witness (Gustavo Mirabile/Courtesy LONEtheater)

In addition to being placed in the production itself, each spectator was thrust into a jarring environment. Some environments were familiar, like a subway train and Central Park, and others were entirely new to the audience member, like Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center. Each environment was entirely natural, though: no proscenium separated the audience member form the actor(s), and the sets consisted of whatever the environment had to offer. The poetic text conflicted with this natural environment, and actor(s) relayed stories to audience members in environments that would seem to call for conversations, rather than the monologues that made up most of the productions. This forced the audience member into the position of active listener for most of the performances. Occasionally, audience members were also called upon to answer questions about themselves or perform small tasks. In one instance, they had to choose whether or not to set a hostage free, and were asked to go as far as to untie him themselves. Audience members often backed away from such active participation, but a surprising number of spectators were willing to actively participate when asked, and most spectators were excited to listen.

In New York City, many stories are overlooked, as people pass others without a second glance. Matías Umpierrez’s five pieces called attention to such overlooked stories. Spectators were called into an apartment to watch the decline of a family in Exodus, and pulled onto the subway to hear the story of an average college graduate, told through the eyes of the speaker in Witness. Spectators left the productions with a greater sensitivity to the lives of the strangers that surround them in the city.

Each different location, as well, was placed in a new light during the productions. The subway became a place to enter others’ lives; the old school building housing Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center became a place to hold a man hostage; Central Park became the center of a story of migration and familial love. Suffice it to say, spectators left with a new take on the setting of the productions they had seen.

Each piece was written in Spanish, Matías Umpierrez’s native language, and later translated into English. Rehearsals took place in a mix of Spanish and English, leading to a necessary cooperation between actors who did not speak any Spanish, those who did, as well as myself, a Spanish student striving to increase my fluency. It was also a constant reminder of the fact that this piece has already taken place in multiple countries, in multiple languages, and will go on to be translated into more languages, changing slightly with each interpretation. The project has so far taken place in Argentina, Spain, and New York City, and rehearsals are now in progress in Brazil.

As the production stage manager, I worked on scheduling, rehearsal notes, acquiring props, and any other tasks that needed to be completed. Because the production had no budget, we had a much more cooperative experience, which was only augmented by the language barrier.

The project altered the way we think of theater, stripping theater down to story-telling and rebuilding it from there, just as it altered spectators’ perception of New York City. With each translation and each country in which the project takes place, it is edited to fit the current socioeconomic climate and issues faced in that particular location. The project is currently occurring in Brazil, where it will continue to demonstrate to spectators the importance of the stories that surround them.

University Theater expands course offerings in dance

By University Theater on September 11, 2014

Tanya CalamoneriThis fall, Tanya Calamoneri joins the Colgate faculty as a visiting assistant professor of English in the University Theater, teaching courses in contemporary dance and dance imagery and improvisation.

Calamoneri (BA, American University; MA, New York University; PhD, Temple University) comes to Colgate from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where she has been project manager for DanceMotion USA for the past two years. She also brings teaching experience from Temple University, New York University, and New College of California. Calamoneri’s dissertation title is “Becoming Something, Becoming Nothing: Performer Training Methods in Hijikata Tatsumi’s Ankoku Butoh.” Her teaching specialties and research interests include dance technique and creative process, dance cultural studies, somatic studies, ethnographic research, and movement and consciousness studies.

University Theater announces second round of auditions

By University Theater on September 8, 2014

Seeing the Beast Audition PosterThe theater program at Colgate has invited director Scott Sheppard to create a devised performance with our students for this fall’s main stage production. Scott’s project, Seeing the Beast, will investigate the contradictions in how humans relate to non-human animals.

In Scott’s words, “What principles lead us to sometimes consider animals sentient beings with emotional lives and other times treat them merely as materials: a source of feathers, leather, fur, and meat?” A second round of auditions will take place during preliminary rehearsals on Thursday, September 11, and Friday, September 12 from 7:00–10:00 p.m. in Ryan 212. Everyone is welcome!

Scott Sheppard is the founder and Co-Artistic Director of Groundswell Theatre Company. He has been a co-creator, producer, and performer for all of their productions including Go Long Big Softie (Philly Fringe 2013) and Hackles (Philly Fringe 2012). During the 2013-2014 season, BRAT Productions (Philadelphia) selected Scott to be their resident artist; the focus for this residency is directing devised theatre. He was twice selected to be part of FringeArts’ Jumpstart Program for his original works Underground Railroad Game (2013) and Lessons for the Lobotomized (2012).

Underground Railroad Game was later selected for a Deep Space Residency with NACL Theatre in October 2014 and for the 2014 ANT Fest at Ars Nova in New York City. Scott is a proud member of the inaugural class at Pig Iron’s school for Advanced Performance Training (2011-2013).