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 Vanities, a comedy-drama by Jack Heifner. Performance dates were Nov. 21-24, 2013 in The Black Box Theater, LeFevre Hall. Cast were two university freshmen and one local veteran actress. This combination of experienced and inexperienced actors helped to significantly raise the performance bar. The production was aided by careful direction, which allowed all actors to be challenged in reasonable ways that helped create a powerful and artistically rendered finished product.
Our spring production was Ravenscroft, by Don Nigro. Performance dates were April 10-13, 2014. A hodgepodge style channeling Noel Coward, Agatha Christie and Oscar Wilde, the show allowed the relatively inexperienced cast to become more familiar with some of the greatest playwrights in 20th century Western theater. Again, cast were 5 freshmen and one local veteran actor with similar results like the fall production. Half the performances of each show sold out making this season one of the most financially successful.
On a different note, many improvements of the theater facility were also accomplished. Not only was a thorough cleaning needed but much of the lighting and sound equipment had fallen on disrepair. Some of those improvements include:
- Theater and booth completely repainted
- Black curtain has been hung on upstage end of lighting grid
- Ropes, weights and appropriate tackle purchased, with some currently being used to support curtain
- Most lights cleaned, reset and repositioned, bulbs replaced, etc.
- Booth ceiling lights replaced with dimmer switches and blue film installed over these fixtures
- Booth furniture replaced (2 high stools, adjustable table, new cabinet, etc)
- Barn space cleaned out and much disposed (window units, flats, some furniture and odd set pieces)
After the above work was completed, it was recommended by Schell Scenic in Columbus that the lighting board and sound system be completely replaced. A capital request was made for the 2014-2015 fiscal year for $14,091.38 to cover this work. We received word mid-July that the request had been granted.
Finally, The Black Box space has been used for other purposes beyond the two previously mentioned productions as rehearsal space for The Wonderful Wizard of College, partnership with A Call to College and Newark City Schools; and, for a guest poet presentation by the English department.
Ohio State Lima
By Joseph Brandesky, Professor
The Lima campus theatre program had another active year with two productions and two ATM (Art, Theatre, Music) collaborations in the 2013-14 academic year. Maria Ignatieva, Associate Professor of Theatre, directed and wrote The Journey of a Duppy Boy (based on a Carribean fairy tale) for our Theatre for Young Audiences performances during autumn 2013. Over 1700 local school children witnessed the production. Margie Anich, Lecturer in Theatre, directed the musical Spamalot during spring 2014. This production was a continuation of our biannual collaboration with the Music Department at Ohio State Lima and featured musical direction by Matt Young. Anich coordinated both ATMs, one in each semester. Dan Matthews, Assistant Professor of Theatre, designed sets and Loo Brandesky designed costumes for all productions this last year. Doug Raver, Assistant Technical Director, spent the year keeping us and the auditorium schedule organized.
Eight students were awarded Martha W. Farmer Theatre scholarships during the past academic year. Among them was Beverly Steele, who also received the Ohio State Lima Theatre Departmental Academic Award at a Spring ceremony.
Next year’s season in Lima will include two thematically linked major productions: Alice in Wonderland (adaptation from the original by William Goldsmith), a play for young audiences, and Reckless (Craig Lucas) will both be directed by Margie Anich. A musical theatre workshop production entitled God on Broadway will be developed with the Music Department during this academic year. All set and light designs for this coming year will be by Dan Matthews and all costumes provided by Loo Brandesky.
Finally, this year students from Ohio State Lima and Columbus will have the opportunity to travel to Prague for a study tour that will coincide with the 2015 Prague Quadrennial Exhibition of International Scene Design. Opportunities for production and street performances in Prague will be available to travelers. The trip will be led by Joe Brandesky, Martha W. Farmer Endowed Professor of Theatre.
Ohio State Mansfield
By Joseph Fahey, Associate Professor
The 2013-2014 theatre season at Ohio State Mansfield was packed full of shows for young and old alike. We expanded our youth theatre collaboration with the Renaissance Theatre from one to three shows, performing Oklahoma, Tarzan, and Thirteen – all under the direction of the Dauphne Maloney. We started the season with a new installment of our theatre club’s annual student-led 24- hour play creation festival and ended the year with an evening of skits written and performed by club members. Our main stage season included three American classics.
We opened the season in October with Arsenic and Old Lace with guest director Drew Traxler and guest scenic designer Jarod Wilson. The play’s mix of sinister characters and over-the-top humor delighted audiences and performers alike. In November we performed perhaps the greatest play written by the greatest American playwright (and certainly one of the most challenging): Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night. It was an ambitious project for us and not a show for audience members faint of heart. But Jarod Wilson’s pared down design, and lighting designer and technical director Jeremy Barr’s brilliant execution contributed wonderfully to a show anchored by an incredible script and powerful yet nuanced performances from our student actors and community artists.
Our final main stage show of the season was The Fantasticks. We were delighted to have our own Professor of Mathematics Gary Kennedy playing the piano for this challenging score and Helen Marie Hecker returning as guest musical director. The production demonstrated the timelessness of this monumental little show. It led to many heartwarming comments and fond remembrances from our older patrons, and introduced many of our younger audience members to a show that deserves to be revisited in each generation.
The 2014-15 season also promises to be an exciting one. We will start with another 24-hour play creation event, then move to our first main stage show - a newly devised work: The Tin Faces Project. This show examines the work of American sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd and her effort to create thin metal portrait masks to hide the severe facial injuries of veterans from the First World War. The show was supported by a grant from our campus, utilizes the holdings of the Ladd collection at the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, previewed on Veterans’ Day 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of that war.