Ohio State Newark
By Edie L. Norlin, Lecturer
During the 2013-2014 academic year, a play was produced each semester. In the fall we produced The Glass Menagerie, a family comedy/drama by Tennessee Williams. Performance dates were Nov. 13-22 in The Black Box Theater, LeFevre Hall. Williams’ “memory play” is based loosely on his own family. Set in 1930’s St. Louis, it’s the story of a family burdened by an idealized and romanticized past that lacks a realistic compass for living in the present world. The mother, Amanda; the daughter, Laura; and the narrator’s son, Tom, are all waiting for the “long-delayed but always expected something that all people live for but few obtain.” Cast were 3 university freshmen and one local veteran actress. This combination of experienced and inexperienced actors helped to significantly raise the performance bar. Aided by careful direction allowed all actors to be challenged in reasonable ways that helped create a powerful and artistically rendered finished product. We increased our performance run from 4 to 8 shows with a house seating capacity of approximately 50. Total attendance for 8 performances was 291 with a cast/crew of 9 students and 5 community artists.
Our spring production was Rabbit Hole, a family drama by David Lindsay-Abaire. Performance dates were April. 9-19. The play is about a formerly happy married couple whose perfect world is forever changed when their young son, Danny, is killed by a car. Wife and mother, Becca, an executive-turned-stay-at-home mother, tries to redefine her existence in a surreal landscape of well-meaning family and friends in the midst of the tragedy. Painful, poignant and often funny, her experiences lead her to find solace in a mysterious relationship with a troubled young comic-book artist, Jason - the teenage driver of the car that killed her son. Becca’s fixation with Jason pulls her away from memories of Danny, while husband and father, Howie, immerses himself in the past, seeking refuge in outsiders who offer him something Becca is unable to give. The Corbetts, both adrift, make surprising and dangerous choices as they choose a path that will determine their fate. Cast were 4 freshman and 2 community actors. Total attendance for 8 performances was 145. Cast/crew included 6 students and 7 community artists.
Improvements of the theater facility continue to be on-going. With leftover budget money additional lamps were purchased, some sound system equipment, technician headsets and miscellaneous electrical supplies and bulbs.
Finally, The Black Box space has been used for other purposes beyond the 2 previously mentioned productions as rehearsal space for The Wonderful Wizard of College, partnership with A Call to College and Newark City Schools; and for various campus events.
Ohio State Mansfield
By Joseph Fahey, Assistant Professor
The 2014-15 theater season at Ohio State Mansfield was one of exciting firsts for our theatre program. We premiered a newly-created play in our mainstage season, attempted our first holiday offering, and took on a musical our program had never done before.
The year started with another installment of our theatre club’s annual student-led 24- hour play creation festival in August, then we went into full play-development mode as we created a new work – The Tin Faces Project – about American sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd and her work with American and French soldiers of the First World War. Ladd’s efforts to craft life-like yet paper-thin metal masks to hide these men’s wounds led us to examine broader issues of war, loss, and the healing of soldiers, doctors, nurses, and artists then and now. This project was supported by a grant from the OSU Mansfield administration which allowed us to utilize materials from the Ladd collection at the Smithsonian, and it was enriched by a brilliant video design by Kate Shannon, Associate Professor of Art as well as striking original plaster molds from Associate Professor of Art John Thrasher. Our preview on Veteran’s Day and the performances over the week that followed were accompanied by post show discussions and moving conversations with veterans, care givers and local service organizations.
In December, through a collaboration with the Children’s Theatre Foundation, we presented A Christmas Carol in an excellent and richly literary adaptation by Christopher Schario. Guest Director Drew Traxler also stepped into the role of Scrooge and our students rose to the challenges of Dickens’ beautiful language and Schario’s fanciful storytelling. This was followed by our annual youth theatre collaboration with the Renaissance Theatre and the Mansfield Youth Theatre for a production of Hairspray, Jr. Director Dauphne Maloney guided over 40 young actors through the rousing January production, supported by waves and waves of enthusiastic community fans, family members and theatre goers in a jam-packed auditorium.
Also in January, our theatre director took a group of students to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival regional gathering in Cleveland. During this week students competed in the Irene Ryan Acting Competition, attended workshops, design presentations and performances, and performed scenes from The Tin Faces Project. Everyone had a great time and the students are already scheming new ways to raise funds for the next festival trip.
Our final main stage show of the season was the musical Working. We were delighted to work for the first time with local artist Patrick Clinage of the Renaissance Theatre as our guest music director and Sarah Horrigan of the Richland Academy as our choreographer. The spirited student performances were accompanied by a video montage of workers and workplaces inspired by Studs Terkel’s moving tribute to America’s great working class.
Looking ahead, the 2015-16 season promises to be an exciting one for us. Our show lineup includes Ken Ludwig’s delightful farce, Leading Ladies, in October, the absurdist classic Waiting for Godot in November, and a beauty from the American musical theatre canon, Damn Yankees, in March. For this last production we also welcome back David Tovey to the role of musical director after five years of serving as Assistant Dean of our campus.