A sneak peek of SEUSSICAL: The Dr. Seuss Musical, opening Wednesday - June 19!
Hello everyone! After a crazy last few weeks, I am finally back here to check in with my final blog post of the year. As you have probably guessed, Dance Emerge is finished, and was an astounding success, if I do say so myself. I am so proud to say that in my first year here at Muhlenberg, I was a part of the largest Dance Emerge cast yet, with fourteen diverse dance pieces by fourteen incredible student choreographers. After a hectic week of tech rehearsals, our amazing cast performed six sold out shows, including our Wednesday dress which was opened to the public because of demand. I cannot even begin to sum up the crazy experience of show week, but I think that is exactly what makes it a Muhlenberg dance performance.
To start the week, all dancers and tech crew attended various types of tech rehearsals so that each performance would be flawless. First was spacing, where each choreographer gets a set time slot in the Dance Studio Theatre to run his or her piece. I always get so excited seeing how the space where I take my weekly classes is transformed into a performance space fit with lights, sounds, and curtains. After running the piece a few times in spacing came cue-to-cue, where our fantastic lighting designer Paul E. Theisen makes each choreographer’s lighting visions come true. Each choreographer gets a few light cues to further enhance the moods of their pieces. As any dancer could probably tell you, I never feel as though the show is finally real until the lights are on me.
Following cue-to-cue came the dress rehearsals, which usually run the few days before opening night. At final dress, everybody and everything is going full steam: tech, lights, and sound are running and the dancers are in full costumes, hair, and makeup. During the last few rehearsals, backstage is as busy as ever, ironing out the final kinks of the show as everyone gets into the groove of the run.
Then came opening night. This was the time we had all been waiting for, so as everyone arrived backstage the energy level was as high as can be. After we all got in costume, applied makeup and did our hair, most casts grouped together with their choreographers for a final pep talk. Usually, this involved some inter-cast gift giving before we all headed downstairs for our final shakeout. As you can guess, this Muhlenberg tradition, along with “Pass the Squeeze” was especially emotional for the seniors in Dance Emerge, who were about to perform for the last time on the Muhlenberg mainstage. Although I cannot even imagine how I will feel four years from now, I can surely say that it was an honor for everyone involved to work on such a great show.
As I said before, this year’s Dance Emerge was an overwhelming success for everyone involved, and I can only hope that I continue to be a part of such great shows here at Muhlenberg!
Here’s a picture of the piece I was in (Photo Credit: Matthew Wright, Fig Tree Photography):
The academic year is coming to a close and so are rehearsals for The Library. It has been a very crazy time with finals approaching, but getting to work on such an important project with such an amazing cast has been such a pleasure. As we have progressed over the weeks, we have really begun to find our characters and feed off the energy of the cast as a whole. We are not only actors, but also storytellers conveying a very important message. As a part of the Youth and Prejudice Conference, The Library tells the story of bullying set against the backdrop of the Holocaust.
We will try to teach the audience that it is okay to be different, even if people persecute you for those differences. We will teach bystanders how to stand up for victims and hopefully teach persecutors to see their wrongdoings. We will be performing this story for over three hundred middle school students. They will be looking up to us as an authority on the topics that they will be discussing later in the day with conference facilitators.
Recently as a cast we have been rehearsing for the talkback at the end of the show by doing a practice panel. Our director asks us questions about the show, the time period, our characters, and themes within the show to get us ready for the live talkback with the students. It has been a really awesome experience, and I’m sure that when we actually do the real talkback we will be prepared. But then again, you never know what curve balls the middle school students might throw!
No matter how the talkback goes, I hope that that we are able to convey a message. Just as Hitler used mob-mentality to scapegoat the Jews and other minority groups for an unsuccessful Germany, young students sometimes treat each other badly by ganging up on those they view as different. If the children in the audience can see how hurtful words and actions can be maybe they can learn and reflect on who they are and how they treat other human beings.
Learning about the Holocaust and growing as a character over the last few weeks with the other cast members is really helping us flourish as an ensemble and convey the emotions. I know personally, I have become very emotionally attached to the text. The persecution of the Jewish people hits home and makes me realize that hurtful acts happen around the world each day.
I hope that this play continues to be part of the conference for years to come and that children for generations can continue to learn about the atrocities of the Holocaust and the cruelty of bullying. Through reflection, I can only hope that the children will see the consequence of action and learn from history.
Here’s a picture of the cast in costume:
Hello everyone! Now that the Red Door Play Festival has wrapped up, I’m on to my next project — working on Muhlenberg’s Institute for Jewish–Christian Understanding’s (IJCU) production of The Library. It’s been an exciting process so far. Muhlenberg professor Nora M. Whittaker wrote this play with her class in 2000 to show that theatre can promote change. The play is now utilized by Muhlenberg each year to convey the atrocities of the Holocaust and teach the community about bullying and interfaith understanding.
This project is very important to the community, but also to the Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance Department and the IJCU. The main goal of the script is to teach, but first we had to learn. In order to fully prepare ourselves for a show of this magnitude, our director had us research and develop our characters so that we could accurately depict an awful time with historical accuracy. We read about Nazi propaganda, concentration camps, and different German Leagues that were emerging at the time.
This year’s director, Marena ’15, has brought the show to life. The dangers of bullying and not understanding those who are different from you are the core messages of the play. On April 30, 300 students from the Allentown area will fill Baker Theatre to see the show. There will be a talk-back at the end that will educate and empower the kids to think about the themes of the Holocaust and how they can still happen today. The children will have the opportunity to talk to facilitators after the show about their experiences with prejudice and bullying.
Bullying and difference is something that children in middle school struggle with. I remember trying to figure out who I was and search for friends at the same time in middle school. I tried to blend in or fit in just so others wouldn’t make fun of me. As I have gotten older, I have realized that being different is what makes someone interesting. Our goal is to use this play to show that being different is not a bad thing and even if you are made fun of for your differences you have to be strong and know that you are special no matter what.
I’m the mother in the play, and many of my lines are trying to making my 12-year-old daughter realize that although the kids at school make fun of her for being Jewish, she should be proud of who she is. I tell her that she should never be ashamed because being herself is what makes her beautiful.
I am so proud to be a part of a cast that is working so hard on such an important project for the community. We have the common desire to portray a horrific period while also using the transcendent theme of bullying to teach children that who they are is something to be proud of and that bullying is not to be tolerated. I can only hope that we will make an impact and that we will at least convince one child that he or she is important and special.
We are pleased to announce an exciting performance season for next school year!
(This is a preliminary announcement, pending acquisition of rights. Specific dates and venues are to be determined. No deposit, no return.)
Plays written by Muhlenberg student playwrights
Artistic Director, Matthew Moore
Dramaturg, Brendon Votipka
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
By Rupert Holmes
Directed by Charles Richter
Original dance works by the department’s leading student choreographers
The Winter’s Tale
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Troy Dwyer
A spectacular evening of ballet, contemporary dance, tap and jazz, choreographed by faculty and guest artists
The Learned Ladies
Directed by James Peck
This production will feature an all-female cast.
Francine Roussel will play the role of Belise.
Plays directed by Muhlenberg students — details are forthcoming!
Innovative dance works by emerging student choreographers
By Caryl Churchill
Directed by Beth Schachter
Hi everyone! Remember me? Well I’m back assistant stage-managing again, this time for Dance Emerge. There have been a lot of differences between this process and the process for On the Town, in which I was involved last semester. For example, during On the Town, I was involved from after casting through tech and performances. At the end, I could recite the show forwards and backwards, knew the location of every single prop, and could tell you exactly what set changes happened where. This time around, I joined the process during the cue-to-cue tech rehearsal. At first, I was a little nervous, because I didn’t know how things would run since I’ve never worked a dance concert before, and I hadn’t been involved in the rehearsal process at all, but the cast and crew made me feel so welcome, and I quickly was brought up to speed on everything I needed to know.
My responsibilities include setting up and taking down the space before and after shows, giving the dancers their “go” to enter, and serving as a go-between for the dancers and the production stage manager, answering questions and solving problems while the stage manager is calling the show. I also help out the other two ASMs, who have other responsibilities backstage, such as making sure costumes and props get back to their appropriate place after they are used. It’s a fair amount of work, but I’m happy to do it.
So far, I’ve really enjoyed my foray into the dance world. All 14 of the student-choreographed pieces are incredible! Each one has a unique and interesting concept behind it, and it blows my mind how creative each piece is. I think it’s amazing that Muhlenberg is so committed to student work, and that these choreographers are getting the chance to share their visions with the campus community. It’s a nice reminder, for me at least, of what I love about the Theatre & Dance Department here. Well, that’s all from me for now, but I’ll be sure to check in again soon!
Hello everyone! Since my last blog, so much has gone on in the world of Dance Emerge. With less than a month left, the Dance Program is busier than ever planning for the show, whether it’s making the playbill, making the costumes, or organizing the order of the show. As a dancer, it’s so exciting it is to see the pieces finally coming together and how far we have come in a few short weeks. Overall, this year’s Dance Emerge seems to be well on its way to becoming a spectacular show, and has even sold out many of its performances already!
Now that we’re back from Easter Break, we have Dance Emerge's third and final showing, in which choreographers will present their finished pieces to the artistic directors, professors Jeffrey Peterson and Teresa VanDenend Sorge, as well as other dance faculty for feedback. This showing will be particularly exciting because all of the pieces will finally be completed after a semester of work. In addition to this, we are also beginning to use costumes, created by Lex Gurst. The costumes are awesome and each features a wide variety of colors, fabrics, and shapes to enhance the look of the dance pieces.
In preparation for the final showing, dancers and choreographers alike have been extremely busy finishing their dances. In most recent rehearsals, we spent most of our time applying feedback we received at our last showing and cleaning up choreography to make it more precise. With only three hours per week of rehearsals per dance, it has been super important to keep pushing the work forward. With all of the dance pieces finished and a showing quickly approaching, as dancers, our focus is now entirely on precision and performance.
Don’t forget to get your tickets for Dance Emerge before the other performances sell out!
Here’s a sneak peek of the piece I’m in by Kelsey ‘13. And yes, those are plastic bags.
Last Friday, my play, This Property Is Condemned,by Tennessee Williams, had the honor of opening the Spring 2013 Red Door Play Festival. At 4 p.m. we held a final fifteen-minute rehearsal in the Red Door. At 4:50 there was literally a one-person audience, and moderate panic ensued. Not to fear; by 4:58 a voluminous surge of enthusiastic students and parents arrived — so many that there were four layers of people standing behind the back row of chairs, and even several people sitting on the counters. The lights dimmed, a hush fell, and “You’re the Only Star in My Blue Heaven” began to play over the audience.
Our second and final performance was late Sunday night. It was definitely the best performance I’d seen from my cast — absolutely stellar. They had to bow twice. After the crowd had finished cheering for them and they’d exited through the curtain, I ran over and gave both of them the biggest hug I could muster. What a trip — what an absolutely incredible thing to have been a part of.
Several days later I was having a conversation with a friend from another school about theatre opportunities in college. It made me realize just how incredibly lucky I’d been to have any theatre leadership role whatsoever as a freshman. I keep hearing about universities where students don’t even have the option to direct until they’re seniors. This moment made me really appreciate Muhlenberg for its vast spectrum of opportunities that students of any year are privy to. Seriously, Muhlenberg: Thanks!