In addition to our mainstage shows, the Department of Theater frequently hosts special events that allow students to see art and interact with artists making a difference in their field.
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Graduate Devised Projects 2013
Every minute of every day people all over the globe send 100,000 tweets, search Google for the answers to 2 million questions, retouch nearly 4,000 photos on Instagram, and share 684, 478 bits and pieces of their lives with their friends and families on Facebook. But can these numbers really sum up the expansive complexities of life?
NO FILTER (Jared Culverhouse and Paul Adolphsen) focuses on the efforts of three UMass students to express the parts of their lives that cannot be contained within a tweet, wall post, or blog entry. It is a play about personal truth, surprising connections and the astonishing multitudes that reside within each and every one of us.
WITH OR WITHOUT YOU (Glenn Proud and Amy Brooks), its echo and companion piece, poses a haunting question: How do we forget the ones we've lost in a medium designed for "people collecting" ad infinitum? The devisers of WoWY combine dance and spoken-word poetry to examine the ghost in the machine--that relentless reminder of past relationships we confront every time we log on, sign up, or wire into another social networking cosmos.
Performance dates are Friday, April 19 and Saturday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. in FAC room 204. Admission is free.
Reading: Hungry Hill
Adapted by Carole Gaunt from her memoir of the same name
April 12 at 4:30 p.m.
The Curtain Theater
FREE, open to the community
"You're as sick as your secrets." That adage resonates with families who are coping with a family member troubled by alcohol/substance abuse, comments UMass alumna Carole Gaunt. She knows whereof she speaks — Gaunt grew up in a family scarred first by her mother's early death, then her father's alcoholism, a story told to powerful effect in Hungry Hill, her 2007 memoir of growing up in the Springfield, MA, neighborhood of the same name.
Gaunt has now adapted the book into a stage play, which will have a reading at UMass on April 12. The reading will come at the end of a 4-day residency during which Gaunt will work on the script with students and guest director Kara-Lynn Vaeni before presenting it to the public.
When Gaunt first set pen to paper, she was at an age when she had a sense that she was successfully keeping the family cycle of alcoholism at bay and had not repeated her past with her children. She said she also wanted to show the effects of alcoholism/substance abuse on its real victims, the children in the family. Gaunt was 13 when her mother died of lymphatic cancer, leaving Gaunt and her seven brothers with a father whose grief drew him increasingly into alcoholism. She tried to hold her family together as her father married a volatile, abusive woman — only to lose him, too, when he died.
It is a story, she has found, that strikes a chord with children of alcoholics and those who have lost a parent at a young age. She hears from readers — men and women alike — who found that the book offered them a pathway to coming to terms with the difficult times in their lives. "It's almost as if the book gave people permission to talk about things that were bothering them," she said. Just a week ago, Gaunt said, a woman reported to her that after reading Hungry Hill, her husband talked to her about his difficult childhood for the first time.
Hungry Hill is Gaunt's second play to be produced — Dance of the Seven-Headed Mouse was produced off-Broadway in 2009 and tells the story of a family left shattered in the wake of a child's death. She started working on the script shortly after she finished the book but put it aside until a conversation with Chris Baker, Lecturer in Dramaturgy at UMass Theater. With his encouragement, she started revising the script, figuring out which elements needed to be portrayed by actors and which should be narrated by the teenage girl version of herself.
She had to think about what elements of her tale she wanted to emphasize with dialogue. She also needed to adjust some scenes to make them easier to follow: a conversation that took place at a party has moved to a restaurant booth, for example. Certain elements of the story are challenging to stage, she acknowledged — not least the fact that she has seven siblings. Gaunt is enthusiastic about her residency and about what the process of staging the reading will tell her about the play. Most of all, she hopes that the play offers another medium to help people talk about the hidden pieces of their past.
"Once you put it out in the light, it kind of frees you a little bit," she said.
Residency — Magnet Theatre
The UMass Department of Theater proudly presents
A week-long residency
With South Africa's
MAGNET THEATRE COMPANY
January 27 – February 3, 2013
This residency would not be possible without generous funding and support from The College of Humanities and Fine Arts; Five College Multicultural Theatre Committee; Edinburgh After-Festival; UMass Arts Council; Amherst College English Department; Five College Humanities Fund; ISHA; Hampshire College Department of Theater; and UMass Departments of History, Afro-American Studies, Music and English. Thank you for your support!
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
(please check back regularly as we update event details)
Artists in tech rehearsal with staff and student
Artists visit Prof Megan Lewis' Contemporary Rep: Africa course
4 p.m. FREE PUBLIC Rand Lecture (Rand Theater) by Prof Lewis with Magnet artists: "Magnet'sTheatrical Labors in South Africa" Followed by public reception in Fine Arts Center Atrium.
Artist Lecture Demo at Five Colleges (TBD)
Artists lunch with MFA graduate students
1:25-2:30 Neo Muyanga guest visit in Music 100 with Prof Miriam Jenkins
4pm FREE PUBLIC Lecture by Prof Fleishman "State of South African Drama After Apartheid" at Amherst College
6pm Prof Fleishman to visit The Lively Arts course
8pm PUBLIC Performance 1 of "Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking" (Rand Theater)
Post-show discussion (Moderator: Prof Jenny Spencer)
Possible class visits by artists (TBD)
1pm & 4pm Neo Muyanga guest visit in Music 100 with Prof Miriam Jenkins
8pm PUBLIC Performance 2 of "Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking" (Rand Theater)
Post-show discussion (Moderator: Prof Stephen Clingman, TBD)
12-3pm Social Justice Theatre Workshop (Five Colleges students; by invitation) hosted at Hampshire College
8pm Performance 3 of "Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking" (Rand Theater)
Post-show discussion (Moderator: Prof Lewis)
8pm Performance 4 of "Every Year, Every Day, I Am Walking" (Rand Theater)
Post-show farewell reception for artists (hosted by Prof Megan Lewis)
About Magnet Theatre
For the past quarter century, Magnet has been "making space" in South Africa; making space for theatre, education, bodies in motion, and for cultural dialogue. Guided by a spirit of theatrical research, Magnet's mission is to be a moving force behind challenging, compelling theatrical and educational experiences that energize audiences by shifting bodies, assumptions, feelings, beliefs and understandings. They have created a vital body of movement-based, collaborative work that has addressed the seismic shifts in South African culture from the apartheid era, through the historic transition of power in 1994, and into the new democracy.
About the artists
MARK FLEISHMAN — DIRECTOR
While not busy as one of Magnet's founding members and Artistic Directors, Mark Fleishman (director, lecturer, writer) is an Associate Professor and Head of the Drama Department at the University of Cape Town. He is an award-winning director and has directed all of Magnet Theatre's productions since THE SHOW'S NOT OVER 'TIL THE FAT LADY SINGS (1991). His research is concerned with theatre-making in theory and practice, including physical theatre, interactive dramaturgy, site-specific community-based performance, and technology and live performance. His work has been published in South African Theatre Journal, Contemporary Theatre Review, and in various edited volumes. For more about Mark, please visit http://www.drama.uct.ac.za/people/academic
JENNIE REZNEK — ACTRESS
Jennie Reznek (actress, teacher, director) is a graduate of UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN Drama school and studied in Paris with Jacques Lecoq for two years. She is a director of Magnet Theatre and lecturer in movement at University of Cape Town. She has worked as an aerialist and clown in the circus; a movement director and choreographer; a puppeteer with Handspring Puppet Company and has performed in many productions of new South African plays. She is a founder member of Magnet Theatre and together with Mark Fleishman and Mandla Mbothwe is responsible for the creative life of the company.
FANISWA YISA — ACTRESS
Faniswa Yisa (performer) is an acclaimed actress in South Africa who began her professional career with The Mothertongue Project-- a collective of women artists, facilitators and healing practitioners--by co-creating and performing in UNKULUNKULU THE SOVEREIGN ONE, BEADING MY SOUL, and INDAWO YAMAPHUPHA – THE SPACE OF DREAMS. In 2004, Ms Yisa became a Magnet resident performer, collaborating on EVERY YEAR, EVERY DAY I AM WALKING and the Magnet Theatre / Jazzart Dance Theatre's collaborations CARGO, INGCWABA LENDODA LISE CANKWE NDLELA - THE GRAVE OF THE MAN IS NEXT TO THE ROAD, and AUTOPSY.
NEO MUYANGA — COMPOSER/MUSICIAN
Neo Muyanga (composer/musician) was born into a family of composers and the originators of the Mozambican Mbila - the forbearer of instruments like the marimba and the xylophone. He studied the Italian madrigal tradition with choral maestro, Piero Poclen, while at the United World College in Trieste, Italy. Neo, together with Masauko Chipembere, co-founded the acoustic duo, blk sonshine, touring extensively throughout Southern Africa, the east and west coasts of the United States and parts of Western Europe. Neo composes music for choir, contemporary dance, live theatre, cinema and television. He was also responsible for the music in Magnet Theatre / Jazzart's highly acclaimed RAIN IN A DEAD MAN'S FOOTPRINTS, VOICES MADE NIGHT and CARGO. For more about Mr Muyanga, please visit http://neomuyanga.wordpress.com/