RICE THEATRE PRESENTS SHAKESPEARE'S 'A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAMNovember 6-9. 2013 It all started with an offhand comment from a student who said, "I don't
want to leave Rice without having done a Shakespeare play outside on
this beautiful campus." At first, Christina Keefe, professor in
the practice in theater and director of the Rice Theatre Program,
thought nothing of it; she agreed that it would be a lovely idea. Then
as she walked around the campus one fall day, Keefe walked through the
courtyard outside Rice Gallery and thought that the archway would really
be a perfect place to set something sort of Grecian. A year
later, the Rice Theatre Program is producing "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
outside on campus, utilizing those columns and the stunning oak tree in
Founder's Court. And as for the student who made the comment? She is
playing Titania, queen of the fairies, in her senior year. Watch the Rice Theatre's production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream>>
RICE THEATRE TO PRESENT 'MAURITIUS'April 5-13, 2013By Jeff Falk, Rice NewsRice University Theatre will
present “Mauritius,” written by Theresa Rebeck, creator of the Golden
Globe-nominated TV show “Smash,” at the university’s Hamman Hall, 6100
Main Street. Performances are 8 p.m. April 5-6 and April 11-13. A 3 p.m.
matinee is scheduled for April 7.Stamp collecting is far more risky than one would think, according to
the play’s plot. After their mother’s death, two estranged half-sisters
discover a book of rare stamps that might include the crown jewel for
collectors. One sister tries to collect on the windfall while the other
resists for sentimental reasons. “In this gripping tale, a seemingly
simple sale becomes dangerous when three seedy, high-stakes collectors
enter the sisters’ world, willing to do anything to claim the rare find
as their own,” said Christina Keefe, director of Rice’s Theatre Program.Julia Traber will be the guest director of “Mauritius.” Traber’s most
recent directing credits include “The Lion in Winter” for the Texas
Repertory Theatre Company and “Miss Julie” for the Classical
Theatre Company. The Houston Chronicle described her direction of “Miss
Julie” as “detailed, succinct and stunning,” and the Houston Press
praised her for the characterizations she obtained from her cast. She
has worked with various theatres and institutions, including Alley
Theatre, Houston Shakespeare Festival, the Texas Repertory Theatre Co.
and the University of Houston. Currently, she is the assistant artistic
director at the Classical Theatre Company.
Matt Schlief is the production manager and lecturer of theater at
Rice University. His most recent work was as set designer for Rice’s
fall production of “Tartuffe.” Schlief will work with lighting designer
Dustin Tannahill to design the sets for “Mauritius.” Tannahill, a former
student of Rice’s Visual and Dramatic Arts Department, has designed
lights for the university for “Drunken City” and “Tartuffe,” as well as
Classical Theatre Company’s production of “Miss Julie.”
Tickets are $5 for students; $8 for Rice alumni, faculty, staff and
senior citizens; $10 for general admission; and $5 per person for groups
of 10 and more. Tickets are available in advance by calling
For more information on the performances, visit arts.rice.edu.Mauritius>>
MOLIERE'S 'TARTUFFE' TRIUMPHS WITH LIES AND DECEITBy Maggie SulcThe Rice Thresher, November 9, 2012 Tartuffe
illustrates why Rice University benefits from having a theater
department with the ability to combine student talent with experienced
professionals to bring a classic piece of theater onto Rice’s campus. In
the mix of this semester’s many other comedic pieces, Moliere’s Tartuffe
stands out in bringing audiences a satire from the time of France’s Sun King that still elicits tittering giggles, chuckles and guffaws from
At the center of the play is Tartuffe, played by Duncan College sophomore Jake LaViola, a hypocritical beggar who feigns piety in order to worm his way into the household of Orgon, a French aristocrat (Jones College sophomore Qingyang Peng). First duping Orgon and his mother, Madame Pernelle (Alice Rhoades), Tartuffe then attempts to seduce the lady of the house, Elmire (Jones junior Hayley Jones), secure the hand of Orgon’s daughter Mariane (Duncan junior Tasneem Islam) and eventually steal the entirety of Orgon’s estate from his rightful son and heir Damis (Jones freshman John Hagele). The rest of the household bands together to oust the
greedy, pious imposter and reveal the truth to Orgon.
From the first scene of the play, the technical
components in this show shine. The stage, a somewhat stretched and
tilted perspective of a drawing room, sets the scene with its soft
lighting and bright blue-and-yellow walls. The wardrobe and other set
pieces hint at the high-class, ridiculous escapades which will take over
the space. When the characters enter, each of the costumes is a work of
art with wide bustles and hilarious, elaborate hairpieces from the
historical period. Everything comes together to support and create a
environment in which the characters can run, dance, lie and
cheat in front of the audience’s eyes. Continue Reading More >>
MATT SCHLIEF AWARDED 'BEST LIGHTING' AWARDHouston Press Houston Theater AwardsBy Olivia Flores Alvarez and Margaret Downing and Jim J. Tommaney and D.L. Groover, Wednesday, August 22, 2012It's time that we at the Houston Press honor our city's
incredibly rich theater scene — and this year's season was particularly
savory. For the inaugural Houston Theater Awards, we at the Press
put our heads together and whittled categories and countless nominees
to the winners and finalists you see below. To Houston's credit, the
sheer weight of evidence we sifted through is ample proof of our
theater's sterling caliber.
The Theater Awards will be an annual event, and, since this is our
first presentation, we may have overlooked a category or nominee in our
zeal and excitement. We welcome our readers' feedback. And if you missed
any of these marvelous productions from last season, with their
knock-your-socks-off performances, well, a new theater season has just
begun to stir anew your heart and mind. Live theater is one of the
wonders of the world, so go and be invigorated. It's the greatest show
Silence your cell phones and unwrap those candies. The overture has
begun, curtain's going up. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the first
annual Houston Theater Awards. If you can, please hold your applause
until the end. —D.L.Groover
Editor's note: The following assessments were reached after
considering community input and our own attendance at Houston theater
offerings and written by Press theater critics D.L. Groover and Jim Tommaney, Arts and Culture Editor Olivia Flores Alvarez and Editor Margaret Downing. Tommaney, who works with Edge Theatre, did not vote for his theater or write up any category that contained it.
Best Lighting Matt Schlief, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (Generations Theatre)
Matt Schlief's lighting design for Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
from Generations Theatre shifted like quicksilver, from dramatic
upstage portal to ensemble, to separate spotlights downstage for four
preening politicians, and footlights as they collapsed on the floor in a
tableau. He conjured a haunting semi-darkness as a satirical chant
chronicled the genocide of American Indians, and a soft mid-stage spot
as Jackson accepted bigamy as the price of love. Schlief's
shape-shifting lighting not only perfectly matched the driving energy of
this remarkable production, it lit up the lives of all who saw it.
Finalists: Natasha Katz for The Addams Family (Gexa Energy Broadway Across America); and Michael James Clark for The Rape of Lucretia (Houston Grand Opera).More >>
RICE THEATRE AND THE HOUSTON SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL PRESENT 'SHAKESPEARE'S WILL' APRIL 13-29On the day of his funeral, Shakespeare’s
widow, Anne Hathaway, wrestles with her memories of life with and without her
husband. “Shakespeare’s Will” is a
provocative piece about a woman who had a life and dreams of her own.Recently
performed at the Stratford Theatre Festival in Canada, this is the Houston
premiere of this imaginative one-woman play.
The next stop for this production will be The Trojan Horse Theatre, in
Beijing, China this coming July.Christina Keefe, Director of the Theatre Program at Rice
University, will play the part of Anne Hathaway. Ms. Keefe has acted in regional theatres,
Off-Off Broadway, film and television.
She directed Macbeth for Rice last fall and will be directing A Midsummer
Night’s Dream for Houston Grand Opera’s summer studio this coming June. Jack Young is head of Graduate Acting and Directing at the
University of Houston and is an Artistic Associate of the Houston Shakespeare
Festival. He has most recently directed
the critically acclaimed premiere of “Bridesburg” byVictor Kaufold for the
Miscreant Theatre Company in New York City.
Houston audiences have seen his work last summer with the Houston
Shakespeare Festival, as Iago in “Othello” and director of “The Taming of the
Shrew.” Young has been a guest director for such companies as Wayside Theatre,
Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival, Texas Shakespeare Festival, the Promethean
Theatre (NYC) and the Peking Institute of World Theatre & Film.The show dates are April 13-29, Fridays and Saturdays at 8,
Sundays at 3. Performances are at Hamman
Hall. Seating is limited to 75 seats. Performances are free and open to the public. To reserve a
713-348-PLAY. This play is not suitable for audiences under
14.Shakespeare's Will performance flyer >>
RICE THEATRE PROGRAM TO PRODUCE MACBETHFall 2011, Hamman HallSomething wicked this way comes... This last and darkest of Shakespeare's tragedies brings us into a world of murder and temptation. A chilling tale of greed, corruption, and treachery, we watch this political thriller unfold as Macbeth transforms from hero to bloody tyrant.The fall 2011 production of Macbeth is being directed by Rice Theatre Program Director Christina Keefe. Macbeth will be onstage in Hamman Hall November 11-12, 8:00 p.m.; November 13, 3:00 p.m.; and November 17-19, 8:00 p.m.Tickets are available in the Hamman Hall box office by calling 713-348-PLAY. General admission is $10; Rice alumni, faculty, staff, and senior citizens $8; and students with ID $5.
RICE THEATRE'S JUSTIN DORAN TO DIRECT REGIONAL PREMIER OF 'FARRAGUT NORTH' FOR HOUSTON'S BLACK LAB THEATREFrom Rice News Staff ReportsRice
Theatre Lecturer and Visiting Director Justin Doran will direct the latest offering
by Houston's Black Lab Theatre, "Farragut North," a complex drama about
presidential campaign politics. The play will open Sept. 9 at the Frenetic Theater, located at 5102 Navigation Blvd. on Houston's East Side.In
addition to Doran, the play features Baker College senior Jordan Jaffe
as Stephen Bellamy, the press secretary for a front-running candidate
whose meeting with a rival's campaign manager has unforeseen
consequences. Aaron Garrett, a Wiess College senior, is the assistant
director."Farragut North," written by Beau Willimon, will run on Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. through Sept. 24.For tickets and ticket information, contact Black Lab Theatre by calling 713-417-3552. Black Lab Theatre >>
'SPRING AWAKENING' TO RUN JULY 15-31 AT RICE'S HAMMAN HALLGenerations, Rice Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts present musical update of Wedekin playGenerations, A Theatre Company, in association with Rice University’s Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, will present the coming-of-age drama "Spring Awakening," set to a rock-music score. Performances begin July 15 and run through July 31 at Hamman Hall on the Rice campus, 6100 Main St. Click here for directions.
Frank Wedekin's "Spring Awakening" was considered scandalous when it appeared a century ago due to its depictions of adolescent sexuality. Because of the play's themes, anyone under the age of 14 will need to be accompanied by either a parent or guardian. In addition, two talkback sessions have been scheduled to discuss the issues raised by the play. The first, following the July 17 matinee, will be led by Michael DeVoll, a licensed professional counselor who specializes in work with adolescents and young adults in a range of settings including schools and private practice. Dr. Glenn Gabbard, the joint editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Psychoanalysis and associate editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry, will lead a final discussion following the July 30 performance. "Spring Awakening," which has nine performances on three consecutive weekends, is directed by Generations Founding Artistic Director George Brock, winner of multiple Tommy Tune Awards in his role as theatre teacher and director at Houston's Episcopal High School. Three Rice students (two of whom are Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts majors) are working as interns on "Spring Awakening." Matt Johnson and Aaron Garrett are technical assistants, and Liz Castillo is acting in the ensemble. For more on performance schedules and ticket information, go to www.generationstheatre.com, or call 832-326-1045, seven days a week between 10 a.m and 3 p.m.
RICE THEATRE DIRECTOR CHRISTINA KEEFE PRESENTS WORKSHOP IN AUSTRIA, AUGUST 2011International University Global Theatre Experience (IUGTE), May 20-24, 2011 Rice's Theatre Director and Lecturer Christina Keefe will present a workshop titled, Singing the Text: An Exploration of Voice and Movement using the Techniques of Master Voice Teachers Kristin Linkater, Cicely Berry and Anne Bogart's Viewpoints, at the International University Global Theatre Experience Conference, May 20-24, 2011, in Austria. Participants will engage in a master class using provided texts from the work of Shakespeare, in an inprovisational group setting. The class will work through Linklater's Vowell Progression as well as use some of the nine Viewpoints created by Ann Bogart. Keefe is most interested in how actors connect their voices, bodies and imaginations in a n integrated, authentic way. More >>
RICE THEATRE LECTURER MATTHEW SCLIEF IN TWO HOUSTON THEATRE PRODUCTIONS Matthew Schlief, lecturer on Theatre, and member of Houston's Horse Head Theatre, is producing the play Among the Thugs, by Tom Szentgyorgyi for Horse Head Theatre this fall. Matt will be costume designer for the show. Adapted by Tom Szentgyorgyi from the book by Bill Buford, Among the Thugs is about an American journalist living in England who becomes intrigued with the behavior o the British football hooligans and the sociological implications of these behaviors. In the midst of his investigation, he becomes so involved with this group of men that he succumbs to the "pack mentality," and must struggle with is own morality as he becomes a willing participant in their mindless violence. Horse Head Theatre is located in basement of Magnolia Brewery Building, 717 Franklin Street. For more information, go to their website >> . Matt will also produce the scenic and lighting design for the Classical Theatre Company's production of Ghosts. Ghosts, by Henrik Isben, based on the translation by Rolf Fjelde, will open October 7 through October 17 at the Talento Bilingue de Houston. "Scandal" is the word that is often most associated with Henrik Ibsen and his plays. Frequently banned or censored because of their scathing criticism of 19th Century morality, Isben's works were hotly contested by the public and the media of the day. Ghosts is no different from these, and with its powerful commentary on the topics of incest, infidelity and euthanasia, it may well have been ripped from today's headlines. For more information on Ghosts and the Clasical Theatre Company, visit their website >> .
GENERATIONS THEATRE COMPANY OPENS BAT BOYJuly 8-18, 2010, Hamman Hall Generations Theatre Company will be visiting Rice over the summer and will open their production of Bat Boy, the Musical -- story and book by Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming with music and lyrics by Laurence O'Keefe. The production is being directed by George Brock, musical direction by Adam Stout, and choreography by Kristin Warren. The production will be on stage July 8-18 at Hamman Hall on the Rice University campus. Performances will be Thursdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Saturday matinees at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available online at www.ticketstothecity.com. Reservations may be made by calling 832-326-1045. Visit the Generations Theatre Company website for more information. Generations Theatre Company >>
PLAY BY RICE ALUM OPENING AT THE BOCOCA ARTS FESTIVAL IN BROOKLYN, NY The play Alice,
written by Teresa Ann Virginia Bayer (BA, '10), takes audiences to new worlds and
different dimensions of reality through the use of video, sound, movement, and
traditional theatrical storytelling techniques and will be premiering as part
of the BoCoCa Arts Festival in Brooklyn, New York this summer. The festival
strives to foster community engagement in the arts by hosting theatre, visual
arts, and theatre in unconventional venues throughout the BoCoCa (Boerum Hill,
Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens) area of Brooklyn. Alice tells of a
young woman struggling within her own wild imagination as the real world around
her crumbles. A mother tormented by her own ghosts, a father distracted, a
brother trying to keep it all together, a friend she can't let in, and Alice
must make a choice: up or down? The
play was written in three
segments. The base of this full
length play was written in the fall of 2008 when playwright Teresa Bayer was
given an assignment while studying at the National Theatre Institute to write a
one act play that utilized a Greek Chorus. Teresa began work on a separate (or so she thought) piece
the following summer. This work
was to be a spoken word version of Alice
in Wonderland. But it wasn’t
until moving to New York in January that Teresa realized that she had written
two parts of the same girl’s story--and this girl was Alice--an 18 year old
girl with an unstable mother and an overactive imagination. It was Teresa’s
internship at 3-Legged Dog Theatre and Multimedia Group that revealed to her
the idea of truly incorporating media (video and projection) into the
production. Teresa, along with director Brian
Hashimoto, and designers Helen Bayer, John Eckert, Lisa Renee Jordan, and Jay
Spriggs, along with a strong ensemble cast, have created a work that is
uniquely theatrical and a breath of fresh air in today’s theatre world.
MAIN STREET THEATER PRODUCES BRILLIANT 'ARCADIA'By buzzbell, TheatrePort, May 19, 2010 Tom Stoppard's Poetic Time-Shifting Tale of Math and IntrigueMain Street Theater has earned a reputation in its thirty-five years of existence as being the most literate theatre in Houston.It's second production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia (the first one was only three years after its world premiere in 1993) which opened on Thursday, May 14, at the Main Street Theater's Time Blvd. location in the Village, effectively signs, seals, and delivers Main Street's remarkable reputation as the most literate theatre in Houston.Does this mean that other theaters are not doing intellectually challenging theatre? No.But just not as consistently as does Main Street Theater.Does this mean that Main Street Theater does not do as much fluff and purely entertaining theatre as do other Houston theaters? Yes.Rice graduate and founder and artistic director of Main Street Theater, Rebecca Greene Udden, seems to prefer thinking man's (and woman's) theater over any other kind of theater and those of us that prefer intellectually challenging theatre are in theater heaven every time we attend a Main Street Theater production.More TheatrePort article >> Main Street Theater >>
The Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts' Theatre Program is teaming up with Rice Players to kick off its 2010-11 season with Noises Off!, a comedy by Michael Frayn. Noises Off! will be directed by Justin Doran, with set design by Matt Schlief. Called the funniest farce ever written, Noises Off! returned to
Broadway with Patti LuPone and Peter Gallagher and a manic menagerie
that sent reviewers searching for new accolades as a cast of itinerant
actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing's On.
dexterously realized comedy ever about putting on a comedy. A
spectacularly funny, peerless backstage farce. This dizzy, well-known
romp is festival of delirium."—The New York Times
"Bumper car brilliance...If laughter is indeed the best medicine, Noises Off! is worth its weight in Cipro."—New York Daily News
funniest farce ever written! Never before has side-splitting taken on a
meaning dangerously close to the non-metaphorically medical."—New York Post
"As side-splitting a farce as I have seen. Ever? Ever."—New York Magazine
ACTORS FROM THE LONDON STAGE, RICE 2010 TOURRice Theatre Program bring AFTLS to Rice Actors From The London Stage (consisting
of five British Shakespearean artists from such companies as the Royal
Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, and
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, among others) is an educational program developed
by Homer Swander at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The theatre
company, now in its 35th year,
is based in London and at the University of Notre Dame. The artists
devote a large part of their time to lectures, workshops, seminars, and informal
meetings with students. Their stay provides students and faculty with a unique
opportunity both to observe extraordinary performances and to discuss
literature and the art of theatre in depth with some of the most talented
artists from some of the most important theatre companies in the world.
Offering a tour in the spring and
another in the fall, AFTLS visits approximately sixteen to twenty universities
in a year, giving students and faculty around the country a chance to
experience our dynamic and enriching performing arts program. The company will be performing William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at Rice February 18-20 with performances at 7:30 each evening in Hamman Hall. For tickets, call 713-348-PLAY. Tickets >> Parking >> Rice Shuttle Schedule >>
Sponsored by the Alan and Shirley Grob Endowment
for Shakespeare and the Grob Fund for Shakespeare in Performance in the
Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Rice University.
RICE THEATRE LOSES FRIEND, COLLEAGUE, AND TEACHERJames Huston, Rice Theatre Program lecturer, 2006-08 This weekend we learned of the death of James Huston: actor, author, screenwriter, and lecturer in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts Theatre Program from 2006-08. Jim was a devoted and talented actor and teacher and brought great strength to our department, teaching introduction to acting and acting for film. Jim also taught acting at the University of Houston and Cy-Fair College. Jim was active in both the local Houston and national theatre communities and was a strong supporter of his fellow actors. He became vice president of the Houston Screen Actors Guild Council in 2003 and ran unopposed as branch president in 2004--a position he held until 2009. As branch president he created many opportunities for his union and its member actors such as spearheading the Screen Actors Guild Union Members Developing Work Committee as well as creating the Script to Screen program. He brought his Script to Screen program to Rice, where local acting professionals visited campus to speak to theatre track majors. His work at Rice with the Script to Screen program eventually developed into the Acting for Film class, a class he team-taught with film professor Brian Huberman and film writer and director Kim Henkel.
In his acting career, Jim's credits included film, television, and stage. He played supporting roles in films such as Life of David Gale, Ray, Powder, and The Bostonians. He played leading roles in About Laughter (1998 Sundance Film Festival), Crime of Passion (1997 Houston International Film Festival), and The Lamp (aka Outing). His television credits included The President's Man (CBS), Walker, Texas Ranger (CBS), Nash Bridges (CBS), Unsolved Mysteries (CBS), and Spenser for Hire (ABC). His stage credits included Year of the Duck and Moonchildren (both off Broadway) as well as regional plays Gypsy, Cuckoo's Nest, All My Sons, Loss of Interest, Any Old Passion, and God's Man in Texas (just to name a few). Jim was a member of the Houston Stage Actors Guild, AFTRA national board member, Actors Equity member (25 years), and WIFT and Houston Film Coalition member. He received two Excellence Awards from the ABC Entertainment Television Group, Talent Development Program, for the screenplays The Positive (2002) and Beyond Words (2003). He also received the "One of the Two Funniest Actors in Houston" distinction from the Houston Press in 1999. Jim received his MFA from the University of Houston and his BA from the Principia College. He also attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts Summer Program and studied law at the McGeorge School of Law and the Willamette University School of Law. The Rice University Theatre Program has set up an undergraduate scholarship award to honor Jim and his career. The scholarship award will be given to an undergraduate theatre major to support their studies and research in acting at Rice. Anyone wishing to contribute to this fund may do so by going to Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts donation website. Once on the donation site, please designate the Jim Huston Memorial Award in Acting, gift fund number G82631-398030, in the special instructions. Department of Visual & Dramatic Arts Donation Website >>
CALL FOR AUDITIONSThe Bug, spring 2010 Rice Theatre Program production The Rice University Theatre Program is calling for auditions for actors, technical staff, and designers for the spring 2010 production of Richard Strand's commedy about corporate system melt-down, The Bug. Auditions will be held Wednesday, January 13, 7:00-10:00 p.m., in the Rice Visual and Dramatic Arts theatre in Hamman Hall with call-backs on Thursday, Janaury 14, 7:00-10:00 p.m. Julia Traber, a Houston actor and director, will return to Rice this spring to direct the production. The acting cast will include 4 actors: 2 men and 2 women. The production will open March 19, 8:00 p.m. in the Visual and Dramatic Arts theatre in Hamman Hall. Additional performances will be March 20, 8:00 p.m., March 21, 2:00 p.m, and March 25-27, 8:00 p.m. Students working on the production may receive D1 academic credit by enrolling in THEA 331, Theatre Production, taught by Matthew Schlief and Julia Traber. Download the announcement call flyer >>
THE BUG INVADES RICE THEATRE, SPRING 2010Rice Theatre Program THE BUG, written by Richard Strand, will be onstage in Hamman Hall as Rice Theatre's spring 2010 production. Houston actor and director Julia Traber returns to Rice to direct the comedy about corporate system melt-downs. The trouble in corporate paradise begins at Jericho Inc. with an employee’s simple question, which cannot be answered simply or otherwise. The ensuing confusion shifts the employee’s hyperactive imagination into comic overdrive, and the result is a farce of multinational proportions. As this Everyman of the 1980s faces off against a faceless bureaucracy, he discovers a bug in the system that threatens to tumble the pre-fab walls of Jericho Inc. March 19-20, 8:00 pm; March 21, 2:00 pm; March 25-27, 8:00 pm, Rice University Visual & Dramatic Arts Theatre, Hamman Hall. Tickets: general admission, $10; Rice alumni, faculty, staff, & senior citizens, $8; and students, $5. For tickets call 713-348-PLAY
RICE PLAYERS PRODUCE 24 HOUR PLAY Spring 2010 Running on adrenaline and caffeine, several teams, each consisting of 4-6 students (1 playwright, 1 director, and 2-4 actors), will produce a set of short plays in a 24-hour period! Don’t miss out on the result! Admission is free. January 23, 8:00 pmVisual & Dramatic Arts TheatreHamman Hall
PAUL HOPE JOINS THEATRE FACULTY AS VISITING LECTURERHope to teach new Musical Theatre Studio class, spring 2010 Local
actor and director, Paul Hope, will join the Rice Theatre Program's
faculty as lecturer for the spring 2010 semester. Mr. Hope is a member
of the resident acting company at The Alley Theatre. Mr. Hope
will be teaching Musical Theatre Studio (THEA 309.001, 3 semester
credits), a new course for the spring semester. The course will be
held 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m., Monday and Wednesday and will provide
practical training and expertise in musical theatre and performance. The
course will focus on the particular challenges that musical theatre
presents as distinct from non-musical theatre. Performance techniques
will emphasize the skills necessary for successful presentation of a
musical number by an actor, as well as how to prepare an effective
audition. The class will be limited to 16 students. Mr. Hope is a native Houstonian and has been an Alley Theatre company member for 14 seasons in a wide range of roles,
including Officer O’Hara in Arsenic and Old Lace, Charles in The Clean House, Gavin in House and Garden, Richard in Hay Fever, Arthur in Love! Valour! Compassion!, Serge in Art, Miles Gloriosus in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet, Frederick in Noises Off and Sgt. “Froggy” Le Seuer in The Foreigner, among many others. His musical theatre roles include Rohna in Grand Hotel (with Cyd Charisse and Liliane Montevecchi) and Col. Lockert in Dodsworth (with Hal Linden), both at Casa Mañana in Fort Worth; and Beauregard in Mame (with Juliet Prowse), Bienstock in Sugar (with Robert Morse), and M. Renaud in La Cage (with Lee Roy Reams) all at Theater Under the Stars. He has also performed as Steve Baker in Showboat (with Eddie Bracken) at Houston Grand Opera, and most recently took over for John Lithgow as the narrator of Carnival of the Animals for Houston Ballet. He is the Artistic Director for Bayou City Concert Musicals, which has presented concert stagings of Follies, Falsettos, A Little Night Music, She Loves Me, 70 Girls 70, Assassins, Fiorello, and this year, The Secret Garden and this year, Pal Joey.
HOUSTON DIRECTOR RETURNS TO RICE TO DIRECT THE BUGJulia Traber returns to direct Rice Theatre Program's spring 2010 production
Julia Traber, Associate Artist Director of the Classical Theatre
Company, is delighted to be a guest lecturer and visiting
director for Rice University's Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts Theatre Program.
Ms. Traber will direct the spring production of The Bug, a tale of trouble in corporate paradise that begins with an employee’s simple question, which cannot be answered simply or otherwise.
Ms. Traber has worked as an actor, assistant director, director, and
teaching artist for various local and regional professional theatres
and educational institutions including: Alley Theatre, Milwaukee
Repertory Theater, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Children's Theatre
Festival, Main Street Youth Theatre, The Texas Repertory Theatre Co.,
Unhinged Productions, Unity Theatre, and the University of Houston.
Her most recent directing credits include: The Importance of Being
Earnest; Enchanted April; and Cyrano at Unity Theatre; Wit; and The
Compleat Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, for the Texas Repertory
Theatre Company. Ms. Traber served as a teaching artist and resident
director for Wynn Seale Academy of Fine Arts in Corpus Christi, Texas.
She created and directed the Alley Theatre's Young Performers Studio
for several seasons and is currently a drama specialist for the
International Baccalaureate program in Aldine ISD and an adjunct
faculty member of the drama department at San Jacinto College, South
Ms. Traber was recently named the Associate Artistic Director of the
Classical Theatre Company. She earned an MFA in directing from the
University of Houston.
FRIDAY THE 13TH SETS TONE FOR 'THE THREEPENNY OPERA'Collaborative production gets all of Rice involvedBy Jessica Start, Rice News staff It's fitting that Friday the 13th will mark the opening of "The Threepenny Opera" at Rice University. Based on the 18th-century German "Beggars Opera," the dark musical comedy tells a tale of the London underworld and the beggars who inhabit it. But the action on stage pales in comparison to the action needed to get the production off the ground. The project started more than a year ago for Christina Keefe, director of Rice Theatre, when she began to see opportunities for collaboration. She thought the large cast size (more than 20 members), musical numbers and social commentary of "The Threepenny Opera" would be the ideal production to bring the talents of the Rice community together. With the support of her colleagues in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts, Keefe teamed up with the Shepherd School of Music for musical direction and the German Studies Department for history lessons to provide an all-encompassing experience for those who would sign on for the production. She also brought in the critically acclaimed Leslie Swackhamer to direct. And then she did something unconventional. She opened auditions to the entire Rice community. Students, alumni, faculty and staff were all invited to participate in this "once-in-a-lifetime" show. "We didn't care what their background was or what they were majoring in," Keefe said. "We were looking for talent. And we found it."Keefe said that the open auditions allowed for her and her team to choose top performers to make "The Threepenny Opera" an extraordinary show. But more important to Keefe, the various people involved in the production would provide a more well-rounded experience and deeper education for the students. "It's become a very dynamic classroom," Keefe said of the opera stage. "The students aren't just learning about blocking and delivery of lines. They are learning about the Weimar Republic and monoprints. They're learning about documentaries and music."Those lessons were invaluable to Charlie McKean, a Martel College senior who stars as Macheath. Though he's been performing in front of audiences since first grade, he faced many challenges in preparing for the spotlight this time around. Utmost of those was playing such a dark character."Acting as an opportunistic, murdering rapist isn't exactly an easy role to slip into," McKean said. "I do have to go into something of a dark place to get the character right, but the challenge is something I've come to enjoy as an actor. The atmosphere created by the other actors, the technical crew and the orchestra plays an integral part in helping me become Macheath; I wouldn't be able to go to that place without the help of the world created by the cast and crew."Playing his mother-in-law, Mrs. Peachum, is Rachel Buchman, lecturer in music and head of the Young Children's Division at the Shepherd School of Music. Though she's had more experience on the stage, she too found it difficult to portray such a dark character. "She's not like me," Buchman said. "She's nasty and unhappy. Of course, there are parts of me that can be that way, so I just have to find that part of myself that is like her and blow that up. And I have to leave the other parts of myself behind. There are times when I'm so relieved to get away from her. To get away from the dark, cynical world created in the show."But Buchman insists that at its heart, the show is a comedy."It's really funny -- a typical comedy in a very classical sense. And the music is superb," she said. It was the music that first drew her to "The Threepenny Opera" many years a go when she was a small child."I grew up listening to the show, the 1956 album," she said. "When I was a kid, those songs got into me so deeply. The music is a fantastic combination of all different genres; there's something for everybody."Buchman has seen that play out on the faces of the students in the production. "It has meant so much to me to be backstage and see the young people singing along and asking questions," Buchman said. "I see their eyes opening up to a world of ('Threepenny' playwright Bertolt) Brecht and Weimar, Germany. It's fantastic."McKean said his eyes have been opened to a whole world of theater he didn't know he could be a part of. He attributes that to the professional team guiding the cast and crew."Working with Leslie has undoubtedly made a world of difference in my acting. I've made significant achievements in my acting ability that I never thought possible," he said. "At the same time, I have been more than pleased to see the continuing professional attitude from my fellow students. I have worked with the majority of the cast in college theater productions before, and I never tire of the dedication, insight and sheer ability."Something McKean does tire of is the busy schedule. Like most everyone involved in "The Threepenny Opera," he still has a day job: school."Keeping everything balanced has been a bit difficult," McKean said. "There are definitely some nights when I don't sleep as much as I should, but that all comes with the territory.""The Threepenny Opera" will be in Hamman Hall at 8 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14, at 2 p.m. Nov. 15 and at 8 p.m. Nov. 19-21. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for Rice faculty, staff and alumni and $5 for students. Tickets are available in advance by calling 713-348-PLAY. A free reception will be held opening night at 7 p.m., with a preshow talk by German Consul General Roland Herrmann and Christian Emden, associate professor of German studies. For more information, visit www.arts.rice.edu.
PENNY FOR THE GUY!VADA debuts an eerie and brilliant show with The Threepenny OperaJuliana Serrano, Rice ThresherNovember 13, 2009
From the elaborate make-up and costumes, to the captivating story line, to the bewitchingly surreal voices of the main actors, The Threepenny Opera is guaranteed to keep viewers enthralled and lost in another time and
place more distorted than our own: one filled with poverty and
corruption instead of problem sets and college systems. The show, first written in 1928 by German dramatist Bertolt Brecht and based on John Gay's 1728 The Beggar's Opera, is an ironic satire of the political state of Victorian England. Penned as a Marxist critique of the capitalistic world, The Threepenny Opera was supposed to be the opera of the beggars who could not go to the traditional, opulent opera of the time. Even though the writer of Threepenny intended the opera
as a mockery from beginning to end, one of its most enjoyable aspects
is its mostly realistic storyline - at least until the very end - and
its very tangible, very applicable message. The story centers around an amoral, anti-heroic bandit named Macheath,
or "Mac the Knife," who marries Polly, the juvenile and rebellious
daughter of a shop owner, Mr. Peachum, who has power over the beggars
of London. In addition to following this relationship, the play also
centers on the attempts to capture Macheath, who is chased throughout
the story. The plot explores the question of morality: more
specifically, whether a shop owner who takes advantage of the beggars'
plight for his own profit is more immoral than is a simple womanizing
bandit. From the very beginning of the show, the actors hook the viewers in
with their stoic looks, their faces caked in white and cheeks dabbed
with rouge as they march on stage in celebration of the bandit
Macheath. The costumes, make-up, dark scenery and strong voices start
the opera off on a strong note. If Threepenny has flaws, they lie in overacting. The
delivery seems slightly forced at points, and some of the emotions come
across as overemphasized. Actors without microphones are also
occasionally hard to hear, but these details prove trivial when stacked
next to the overall performance. The show gives far more to rave about
than to criticize. The main cast is brilliant. Martel College senior Charlie McKean gives
a very convincing portrayal of the crazed bandit Macheath, especially
considering what a departure Macheath is from the mild-mannered Tony he
played in Wiess Tabletop's West Side Story last year. As Macheath, McKean proves once again that he has a strong and versatile voice. Each voice, from Mrs. Peachum's (Shepherd School of Music lecturer
Rachel Buchman) tremendous deep voice to Jenny's (University of Houston
theater graduate Elissa Levitt) sexy and strong tone, is impressive. In
fact, when the entire chorus stands together, their combined voices are
enough to send chills up viewers' spines. However, one cannot mention incredible singing without discussing
Shepherd School of Music graduate Laura Botkin as Polly. Botkin's voice
is unreal - she absolutely glitters on stage with her dazzling white
wedding dress, flirty poses and enchanting voice. University of Houston music graduate Danica Johnston, who plays the
role of jealous girlfriend Lucy, doesn't lag far behind in voice. One
of the play's most memorable moments is when Botkin and Johnston
harmonize in the "Jealousy Duet." Dressed in flapper attire, Johnston
is a radiant, bouncy character, enrapturing the audience in both song and movement. One particular song to watch for is the "Pimp's Ballad." The scene is
worth it for the costumes alone. From feathers to brightly colored
tights to elaborate wigs, the costumes combine raunchy poses and
talented voices for an incredible number. The stage crew and the orchestra must also be commended. Matthew
Schlief's moody stage design is impeccable as always, and the captions
carried by the stoic, ragged-looking beggars look great, connecting the
different parts of the play and enhancing the feeling of being
transported to another world. The jazzy orchestra is also swinging,
complete with a saxophone that adds attitude to the show. It is clear that these able actors and others involved put a lot of
work and effort into the production, and the result is a magnificent
conglomerate of solid talent and entertainment.
THE THREEPENNY OPERA OPENS AT HAMMAN HALL NOVEMBER 13Directed by Leslie SwackhamerMusical Director and Conductor: Cristi Macelaru, Rice Shepherd School of Music The Rice Theatre Program opens its production of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's critically acclaimed musical, The Threepenny Opera, November 13 at Hamman Hall.
Public debt is ballooning, banks are going bust, a
depression is right around the corner, and Mack the Knife is leaving a trail of
broken hearts and cut throats in his wake. In this masterful musical satire,
love, sex, murder, and theft all become tactics for survival in a society
spinning out of control. The play challenges conventional notions of property
as well as theater. It asks the central rhetorical question, "Who is the
bigger criminal: he who robs a bank or he who founds one?"
Winner of three Tony Awards, The Threepenny Opera revolutionized musical theater by overcoming
superficiality and mere story telling in favor of presenting ideas. Written by Bertolt Brecht (Book and
Lyrics) and Kurt Weill (Music), The Threepenny Opera was inspired by John Gay’s
18th-century The Beggar’s Opera.
Brecht and Weill’s creation is a savage, biting commentary on capitalism and
modern morality. Set in London, The
Threepenny Opera is a bitter tale told of the outlaw known as Mack the
Knife. He secretly marries the daughter of Soho’s underworld boss but is soon
betrayed by his sinister in-laws and sent to prison. After being freed by the
police chief’s daughter, he is again betrayed – this time by a prostitute – and
sentenced to death. At the final hour he manages a reprieve, thus providing a
menacing finale of ferocious irony. Weill’s acidic harmonies and Brecht’s
piercing texts create a revolutionary musical that inspired such subsequent
hits as Cabaret, Chicago and Urinetown.
SWACKHAMER directs theatre and opera throughout the country. Most recently she directed the acclaimed
production of Rabbit Hole at Stages
Repertory Theatre. Also at Stages,
she has directed Lady and Amy’s View (Houston Chronicle “Top Ten
Theatrical Production for 2007”).
Leslie has served as associate artistic director of ACT Theatre and
artistic associate at The Cleveland Play House. She has directed many world premieres by prominent
playwrights, including Lee Blessing, Wendy Kesselman, Jeffrey Hatcher, and
Steven Dietz. She directed the
American premiere of Mrs. Klein. She won the Seattle Times “Bravura Performance” and “Best
Shakespeare” awards. Her production
of Fefu and Her Friends for the UT (Austin)
garnered 8 B. Iden Payne Nominations, as well as the Austin Critics Table Award
for Ensemble Performance. Leslie
has directed over 50 workshops and productions of new plays. She also directs opera, most recently a
new production of Madama Butterfly.
Performances are Friday November 13th - 14th
at 8pm, Sunday November 15th at 2pm; Thursday November 19th
– 21st at 8pm. Tickets:
Students $5, Rice Faculty, Staff & Senior Citizens $10, General Audience
$12. Performances are at Hamman
Hall. Tickets are available in advance by calling 713-348-PLAY or visiting http://arts.rice.edu. Visit the Rice Threepenny Opera blog >>
RICE'S CHRISTINA KEEFE JOINS 100 THEATRE COMPANIES IN READINGThe Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, by Peter Cummins, addresses hate crime Rice University's Theatre Program director, Christina Keefe, will join 100 theatre companies around the nation tonight to read "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later, An Epilogue," at the University of Houston Wortham Theatre. Ten years ago, a New York-based theater company created "The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later," a production based on interviews with residents of the town where Matthew Shepard was killed in 1998. Shepard was a gay man beaten to death by his townsfolk. Time has not lessened the crime's impact on America's consciousness, nor its symbolic reminder of the violence often targeted toward the gay community.Shepard's death was the catalyst for the "The Laramie Project," a play developed and produced by the Tectonic Theatre Project. Written by Moises Kaufman, Leigh Fondakowski, Greg Pierotti and Andy Paris, the play was drawn from interviews with Laramie residents, news reports and journal entries. Audiences will revisit the Wyoming town when "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" premieres on Oct. 12, the date of Shepard's death. The University of Houston's Wortham Theatre joins more than 100 theaters around the world that will host readings of this play. Presented by the UH School of Theatre & Dance, "The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later" will begin at 7 p.m., Oct. 12 in the Wortham Theatre. Admission is free.More information on this performance >>
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNESTRice Players Fall 2009 Production
Rice Players presents Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, a wittylove story with mistaken identity, young lovers, and brilliant dialogue. The Importance of Being Earnest enchants its viewers as they watch a series of animated personalities discover the vital importance of being earnest.October 1-3, 8:00 pmOctober 8-10, 8:00 pmVisual & Dramatic Arts TheatreHamman Hall General admission, $10; Rice alumni, faculty, staff, & senior citizens, $8; Students, $5. For tickets call: 713-348-PLAY
KEEFE RECEIVES GRANT FROM THE KURT WEILL FOUNDATIONKurt Weill Foundation supports Rice Theatre production of The Threepenny Opera Christina Keefe, Director of the Rice Theatre Program, recently received a foundation grant from the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music to support the Rice Theatre fall production of The Threepenny Opera. The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music was founded by Lotte Lenya in 1962 and is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated chartered to preserve and perpetuate the legacies of composer Kurt
Weill (1900-1950) and actress-singer Lotte Lenya (1898-1981). Based in
New York City, it administers the Weill-Lenya Research Center, a grant program, the Kurt Weill Book Prize and Lotte Lenya Competition, and publishes the Kurt Weill Edition and the Kurt Weill Newsletter. Each year, the Foundation's Grant Program
gives financial support to individuals and not-for-profit organizations
for projects related to Weill or Lenya. Applications are accepted in
the following categories: Research and Travel; Kurt Weill Dissertation
Fellowships; Publication Assistance; Educational Outreach;
College/University Performance; Professional Performance; and
Broadcasts. Weill was born on 2 March 1900 in Dessau,
Germany. The son of a cantor, Weill displayed musical talent early on.
By the time he was twelve, he was composing and mounting concerts and
dramatic works in the hall above his family's quarters in the
Gemeindehaus. During the First World War, the teenage Weill was
conscripted as a substitute accompanist at the Dessau Court Theater.
After studying theory and composition with Albert Bing, Kapellmeister
of the Theater, Weill enrolled at the Berlin Hochschule für Musik, but
found the conservative training and the infrequent lessons with
Engelbert Humperdinck too stifling. After a season as conductor of the
newly formed municipal theater in Lüdenscheid, he returned to Berlin
and was accepted into Ferruccio Busoni's master class in composition.
He supported himself through a wide range of musical occupations, from
playing organ in a synagogue to piano in a Bierkeller, by tutoring
students (including Claudio Arrau and Maurice Abravanel) in music
theory, and, later, by contributing music criticism to Der deutsche Rundfunk, the weekly program journal of the German radio. Lotte Lenya, née Karoline Wilhelmine
Blamauer, was born in 1898 in Vienna to working-class parents. An early
ambition to become a dancer led her in 1914 to Zurich, where she
studied classical dance and the Dalcroze method and gained experience
in the opera and ballet at the Stadttheater. As the acting student of
Richard Révy, she then worked in repertory at the Schauspielhaus, where
she appeared in dozens of productions and encountered artists of the
stature of Elisabeth Bergner and Frank Wedekind. In 1921 she set out
for Berlin with the hope of making a career as a dancer. During her
audition for Zaubernacht in 1922, she was introduced to its
composer, Kurt Weill, but couldn't see him at his position at the piano
in the pit. (She was cast, but out of loyalty to her teacher, who was
not, she declined the offer.) More information on the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music >>
THEATRE DIRECTOR AND LECTURER CHRISTINA KEEFE RECEIVES RICE FACULTY INITIATIVE FUND GRANT FOR THREEPENNY OPERA PROJECT Rice University Theatre Program Director/Lecturer Christina Keefe received funding from the Rice University Faculty Initiative Fund for the multidisciplinary Threepenny Opera production project this fall. Vice Provost for Research James Coleman said that competition for this year's awards was fierce. Nine grants totalling $374,180 were awarded out of forty-one proposals. “We had 41 proposals competing this year. Each of them proposed
creative and exciting scholarly, education and/or outreach activities
across the spectrum of disciplines at Rice, and with many different
partners ranging from local to international, that could propel the
Vision for the Second Century forward," he said. "The review team of
national academic leaders had a very difficult time selecting the
winners and commented to me on how excellent the proposals were.”
The project will include six performances of Threepenny Opera in Hamman Hall November 13-15 and 19-21, and will be directed by Ms. Leslie Swackhamer, the program's visiting artistic director for the fall semester. Ms. Swackhamer is a nationally renown theatrical director, producing such plays as Madame Butterfly, Don Giovanni, and Fefu and Her Friends--which garnered eight B. Iden Payne nominations as well as the Austin Critics Table Award for ensemble performance. This production project also notes the first opportunity for Rice Theatre to work with faculty from Shepherd School of Music. Cristi Macelaru, staff conductor at Shepherd School of Music, will direct and conduct the Threepenny project. This project is receiving additional funding from the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts Jerome Segal Endowment, the Dean of Humanities, and the Kurt Weill Foundation. For tickets, call 713-348-PLAY.
LAST CALL FOR AUDITIONSThe Threepenny Opera Last auditions for the Rice Theatre Program's fall 2009 production of The Threepenny Opera
will be September 1, 2009, 7:00-10:00 p.m., in Hamman Hall. Call backs
will be September 2, 7:00-10:00 p.m., also in Hamman Hall. The Threepenny Opera,
a musical tale of cut throats, love, sex, murder, and theft received three Tony Awards. The production will be directed by Leslie Swackhamer, the fall
2009 visiting guest artistic director and nationally-noted theatrical
director. Music will be directed and conducted by Christi Macelaru of
the Rice University Shepherd School of Music. The musical will run November 13-14, 8:00 p.m.; November 15, 2:00 p.m.; and November 19-21, 8:00 p.m. Everyone, both inside and outside Rice, is welcome to audition. Please prepare two contrasting songs, musical theatre, or operetta. Accompanist will be available. Rice students who are selected for the production may receive DI academic credit by enrolling in THEA 331. Financial
support for The Threepenny Opera is being generously made by the Rice University
President's Faculty Initiative Fund, The Kurt Weill Foundation, the
Office of the Dean in the School of Humanities, and the Department of
Visual and Dramatic Arts Jerome Segal Endowment. For more information, please contact Christina Keefe, Rice Theatre Director, at 713-348-4668 (or email email@example.com).
RICE THEATRE PROGRAM TO PRODUCE THE THREEPENNY OPERADirected by Leslie SwackhammerMusical Director & Conductor: Cristi Macelaru, Rice Shepherd School of Music
Public debt is ballooning, banks are going bust, a depression is right around the corner, and Mack the Knife is leaving a trail of broken hearts and cut throats in his wake. In this masterful musical satire, love, sex, murder, and theft all become tactics for survival in a society spinning out of control. The play challenges conventional notions of property as well as theater. It asks the central rhetorical question, "Who is the bigger criminal: he who robs a bank or he who founds one?"Winner of three Tony Awards, The Threepenny Opera revolutionized musical theater by overcoming superficiality and mere story telling in favor of presenting ideas. Written by Bertolt Brecht (book and lyrics) and Kurt Weill (music), The Threepenny Opera was inspired by John Gay’s 18th-century The Beggar’s Opera. Brecht and Weill’s creation is a savage, biting commentary on capitalism and modern morality. Set in London, The Threepenny Opera is a bitter tale told of the outlaw known as Mack the Knife. He secretly marries the daughter of Soho’s underworld boss but is soon betrayed by his sinister in-laws and sent to prison. After being freed by the police chief’s daughter, he is again betrayed – this time by a prostitute – and sentenced to death. At the final hour he manages a reprieve, thus providing a menacing finale of ferocious irony. Weill’s acidic harmonies and Brecht’s piercing texts create a revolutionary musical that inspired such subsequent hits as Cabaret, Chicago and Urinetown.LESLIE SWACKHAMER directs theatre and opera throughout the country. Most recently she directed the acclaimed production of Rabbit Hole at Stages Repertory Theatre. Also at Stages, she has directed Lady and Amy’s View (Houston Chronicle “Top Ten Theatrical Production for 2007”). Leslie has served as associate artistic director of ACT Theatre and artistic associate at The Cleveland Play House. She has directed many world premieres by prominent playwrights, including Lee Blessing, Wendy Kesselman, Jeffrey Hatcher, and Steven Dietz. She directed the American premiere of Mrs. Klein. She won the Seattle Times “Bravura Performance” and “Best Shakespeare” awards. Her production of Fefu and Her Friends for the UT (Austin) garnered 8 B. Iden Payne Nominations, as well as the Austin Critics Table Award for Ensemble Performance. Leslie has directed over 50 workshops and productions of new plays. She also directs opera, most recently a new production of Madama Butterfly. Performances are Friday November 13th - 14th at 8pm, Sunday November 15th at 2pm; Thursday November 19th – 21st at 8pm. Tickets: Students $5, Rice Faculty, Staff & Senior Citizens $10, General Audience $12. Performances are at Hamman Hall. Tickets are available in advance by calling 713-348-PLAY. This production is being partially
funded by the Rice University Faculty Initiative Fund, The Dean of the
School of Humanities, The Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts Jerome
Segal Endowment, and the Kurt Weill Foundation.
LESLIE SWACKHAMER JOINS RICE THEATRE PROGRAMSwackhamer joins Rice Theatre Program as visiting artistic director for The Threepenny Opera, fall 2009
Leslie Swackhamer will join Rice Theatre Program as visiting artistic director this fall to produce The Threepenny Opera. Leslie is based in Houston and works in theatre and opera throughout the country. Most recently she directed the highly acclaimed production of Rabbit Hole at Stages Repertory Theatre. Also at Stages, she has directed Lady and Amy’s View (Houston Chronicle “Top Ten Theatrical Production for 2007”). She is also the Executive Director of the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, awarded annually to recognize women from around the world who have written works of outstanding quality for the English-speaking theatre.Prior to moving to Houston, Leslie served as associate artistic director of Seattle’s ACT Theatre, where she founded the Women Playwrights Festival. She has also served as artistic associate at The Cleveland Play House. She has directed many world premieres by prominent playwrights, including Lee Blessing (Going to St. Ives), Jeffrey Hatcher (What Corbin Knew), and Steven Dietz. She directed the American premiere of Nicholas Wright’s Mrs. Klein. Her production of Amy Freed’s The Psychic Life of Savages garnered the “Best Bravura Performance Award” and Much Ado About Nothing won “Best Shakespeare” from the Seattle Times. Her 2007 production of Fefu and Her Friends for the University of Austin garnered 8 B. Iden Payne Nominations, as well as Austin Critics Table Award for Ensemble Performance.A passionate advocate for the development of new scripts, Leslie has been a TCG Observer in new play development and has directed over 50 workshops and productions of new plays for theatres across the country, including Southcoast Rep, Madison Rep, The Cherry Lane, ACT, Intiman, Seattle Rep, The Cleveland Play House, American Stage, Cleveland Public Theatre, Intiman, Brave New Works, and The Playwrights Center.Leslie also directs opera, most recently a highly acclaimed new production of Madama Butterfly (performing in opera companies throughout North America) in collaboration with noted contemporary artist Jun Kaneko. In Houston, she has directed Macbeth and Don Giovanni for Opera in the Heights.Ms. Swackhamer has also served as adjunct faculty in acting and directing at the University of Washington, Case Western Reserve University and the USC. She is a founder and past president of Theatre Puget Sound, the regional service organization for theatres and theatre artists, and a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. Leslie holds an M.F.A. in Directing from the University of Washington School of Drama, a J.D. from George Washington University and a B.A. in History from Emory University.
READY, SET, 'STOP KISS'Rice Theatre's play features set design by architecture studentBy Jessica Stark, Rice News Staff
As a student in the prestigious Rice School of Architecture, senior Gloria Chang has designed and constructed a vast array of projects, but she faced a whole new set of challenges when she took to the stage for Rice Theatre's upcoming production, "Stop Kiss." The production will run March 20-21 and 26-28 at 8 p.m. A special performance will be given at 2 p.m. March 22.
Chang was selected as the scenic designer for the play set in Manhattan. She was asked to create a stage that emphasized the dynamic, harsh and sometimes comedic undertones of the story in which two young women form an unexpected friendship that leads to a shy, mutual attraction. That wasn't a great challenge for Chang, already a thoughtful designer. Her challenge proved to be the dimensional differences between what the audience sees and what the actors experience.
"Scenic design is a very specific and specialized architectural problem," Chang said. "It is different from architecture in that it has an already-restricted view and does not have to function past the façade. It's interesting because it must be constructed in three dimensions for the actors, but each audience member is viewing it from one angle only.""Gloria began drawing shapes of what the play means from the very first design meeting and then presented us with three different designs," said Matt Schlief, the production manager and lecturer of visual and dramatic arts. "What she created is a flexible space that makes an excellent stage to morph from an apartment to a detective's office to a hospital room."Also new to Chang was the one-to-one construction scale of the design. In most of her architecture coursework, she has worked with models that are appropriately scaled down to manageable and cost-effective dimensions."I’ve never had anyone else build something I’ve designed, so that in itself was an experience," Chang said.Schlief supervised the design and construction of the set. He was very pleased to work with Chang, whom he said has a unique ability to humanize what she designs."A lot of architects focus on the lines and the structure and the function," Schlief said. "What sets Gloria apart -- and what can help her in the future -- is the way she looks at how those things resonate with people."That desire for detail-oriented design proved frustrating to execute."During the construction process, there was a tremendous emphasis on only designing and providing a finish for what can be seen," Chang said. "As accustomed as I am to a more holistic approach to spatial design, I had to deliberately cut out portions that, while nice, would never be seen."Schlief said that despite Chang having to cut out some original design ideas, the set is a wonderful and creative rendering of what the playwright, Diana Son, wrote.Her architecture education came in handy when she laid out her design ideas, but she had to brush up on theater techniques and building materials. She also had to work within a tight budget."It’s a simple set, and a lot of experimentation went into it," Chang said. "A lot of the textures were abstracted or have a twist built in, which, hopefully, you’ll see on completion."She hopes to be able to incorporate the new techniques and knowledge into her future designs. Currently, she's planning to go on to Rice's Preceptorship Program, which gives fourth-year students a full year of practical experience at leading architectural firms. Then, she plans to return to Rice for her professional degree and become an architect."I hope that scenic design can be a part of what I do, so that I can be involved in theater again," she said. "Until then, I’ll have to remain a patron rather than a participant."Tickets for "Stop Kiss" are $5 for opening night. Other performances are $5 for students; $8 for Rice alumni, faculty, staff and senior citizens; and $10 for general admission. To purchase tickets, call 713-348-PLAY.(See the OUTSMART Magazine article on Stop Kiss.)(See STOP KISS Press Release )
Mr. Huff will direct Stop Kiss, the spring theatre program production. Mr. Huff will also teach the spring semester's THEA 102, Introduction to Acting and team-teach THEA 331, Theatre Production, with Matthew Schlief.
Mr. Huff has recently directed Tallest Girl in the Class (new play workshop) at the Horizon Theatre and Born Guilty at the Jewish Theatre of the South--both in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, he has directed productions at Theatre Emory, ActorÕs Express, and the Aurora Theatre.
Mr. Huff has performed in MEDS (ensemble created work) at the Out of Hand Theatre; Another Dead Soldier (world premier) at the University of Texas New Works Festival; and Moon for the Missbegotten at the Alliance Theatre. In addition to his acting and directing credits, he has held teaching appointments at the University of Texas School of Fine Arts in Austin, Texas.
Mr. Huff was awarded The Sunday Paper's Top 10 Atlanta Directors, 2007; The Sunday Paper's top 10 Best Shows of the 2006 Season (The Skin of our Teeth); and the Lincoln Center Director's Lab Director, 2000.
Mr. Huff received his MFA in Theatre Directing from the University of Texas, Austin, in 2004 and a dual BA degree in Theatre Studies and Religion (magna cum laude) from Emory University in 1977.
RICE THEATRE AND RICE PLAYERS COLLABORATE TO PRODUCE PRIVATE EYES
Private Eyes is a comedy of suspicion in which nothing is ever quite what it seems. Who is really having an affair with whom? Or is it all part of the play that’s being rehearsed? Or, is it, for that matter, an elaborate therapy session? The audience itself plays the role of detective in this hilarious “relationship thriller” about love, lust and the power of deception.
The Rice Players, Rice’s oldest collegiate theatre troupe, has teamed up with the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts Theatre Program for our first collaboration. The completely student run company has teamed up with other groups in the past, but this is the first co-production with the new Theatre Program, uniting two of the biggest theater groups with the most resources on Rice campus for the first time.
The director, Julia Traber has just been named the Associate Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre Company. Ms. Traber has worked as an actor, assistant director, director, and teaching artist for various local and regional professional theatres and educational institutions including: Alley Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Children’s Theatre Festival, Main Street Youth Theatre, The Texas Repertory Theatre Co., Unhinged Productions, Unity Theatre, and the University of Houston. She created and directed the Alley Theatre’s Young Performers Studio for several seasons and is currently a drama specialist for the International Baccalaureate program in the Aldine Independent School District and an adjunct faculty member of the Drama Department at San Jacinto College, South Campus.
Performances are Friday November 7th - 8th at 8pm, Sunday November 9th at 2pm; Thursday November 13th - 15th at 8pm. Tickets: Students $5, Rice Faculty, Staff & Senior Citizens $8, General Audience $10. Performancesare at Hamman Hall. Tickets are available in advance by calling 713-348-PLAY or visiting http://arts.rice.edu. For Rice Players info: http://players.rice.edu.
(Read the Private Eyes Press Release )(Read about Private Eyes in Rice Thresher )(Read about Private Eyes in Rice News)
JULIA TRABER JOINS RICE THEATRE PRORAMAS VISITING ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, FALL 2008
Julia Traber, Associate Artist Director of the Classical Theatre Company, is delighted to be a guest lecturer and visiting artistic director for Rice University's Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts.
Ms. Traber will direct Private Eyes, a collaborative production between Rice Theatre Program in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts and Rice Players. Ms. Traber will also teach the fall semester's Introduction to Theatre.
Ms. Traber has worked as an actor, assistant director, director, and teaching artist for various local and regional professional theatres and educational institutions including: Alley Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Children's Theatre Festival, Main Street Youth Theatre, The Texas Repertory Theatre Co., Unhinged Productions, Unity Theatre, and the University of Houston.
Her most recent directing credits include: The Importance of Being Earnest; Enchanted April; and Cyrano at Unity Theatre; Wit; and The Compleat Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, for the Texas Repertory Theatre Company. Ms. Traber served as a teaching artist and resident director for Wynn Seale Academy of Fine Arts in Corpus Christi, Texas.
She created and directed the Alley Theatre's Young Performers Studio for several seasons and is currently a drama specialist for the International Baccalaureate program in Aldine ISD and an adjunct faculty member of the drama department at San Jacinto College, South Campus.
Ms. Traber was recently named the Associate Artistic Director of the Classical Theatre Company. She earned an MFA in directing from the University of Houston.
MATTHEW SCHLIEF'S FUSION OF LIGHT & SOUNDSYNESTHESIA APPEARS AT HAMMAN HALL, RICE UNIVERSITY, AUGUST 14-16
HOUSTON, TX - The Department of Visual & Dramatic Arts at Rice University is proud to present an inspired night of live music, sound, lighting and visual performance free to the public. Synesthesia, the first production of the 2008-2009 Rice Theatre Program season, is a fusion of light and sound directed and designed by Matthew Schlief, featuring original music compositions performed by Two-Star Symphony, Houston's most unusual string ensemble will be performed August 14, 15, and 16 at 8:00 in Hamman Hall at Rice University. Admission is free. First come seating begins each evening at 7:30 pm.
The production designed and directed by Matthew Schlief, is a uniquely created visual and audio performance of aesthetically merged sound and light. The original music by Two-Star Symphony will include two never before heard compositions inspired by visual imagery provided by designer Matthew Schlief. The production will also feature
Genevieve Durham, Assistant Professor of Dance at Texas Tech University, who will perform her original choreography accompanying one of the pieces new music compositions.
Two Star Symphony is Jerry Ochoa (violin), Debra Brown (violin), Jo Bird (viola/toy piano), and Margaret Lejeune (cello/harp). The extended Orchestra includes (Chris Bakos (bass), Cathy Power (marimba/percussion), Kirk Suddreath (percussion) and John Duboise (clarinet). Each member's unique background brings together an eclectic variety of music styles, including gypsy, rock, hip-hop, metal, classical and electronic. Their hunger to experiment has captured the imaginations of the young and old, despite whatever previously held notions they may have had about classical music.
Matthew Schlief is the Production Manager and Scenic & Lighting Design faculty for the Rice Theatre Program. Before his return to Houston in 2004, Matt was an Assistant Professor of Communications and served as the Scenic, Lighting, and Sound Designer at Augusta State University in Augusta, GA. He received his BFA in Theatre from Southwestern University in Georgetown, and his MFA in Scenic and Lighting Design from the University of Houston. Matt's design credits include: All in the Timing, Dreamgirls, Forever Plaid, West Side Story, Urban Cowboy, True West, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Aida, Full Monty, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Hecuba, No Exit, Cats, Odd Couple, Evita, Beauty & the Beast, Cinderella, Nutcracker, Dr. Faustus, Harvey, Geurnica, The Music Man, Arcadia, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oklahoma, Guys and Dolls, The Robber Bridegroom, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Chorus Line, Funny Girl, Ramona Quimby, Hello Dolly, Sweet Charity, Box Office of the Damned Part II, Top Girls, Chi, Steel Magnolias, Reckless, and various other performances and events. His most recent project (besides Synesthesia) was the lighting design for West Virginia Public Theatre's Summer Season where he designed Dreamgirls, Forever Plaid, West Side Story, & Urban Cowboy.
Genevieve Durham DeCesaro is a Texas-based choreographer, teacher, and performer. Her choreography has been commissioned by Spelman College, Stephen F. Austin State University, Tarrant County College, Texas Woman's University, Atlanta's Poetics Dance Company, and Oklahoma City's Perpetual Motion. Genevieve has performed professionally at numerous regional and national venues, including The Beam Theatre in Atlanta, The Continental Club in Austin, and The Bathhouse in Dallas. Her dance works have recently been featured at the Modern Atlanta Dance Festival and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Genevieve holds a BFA in Theatre from Southwestern University in Georgetown, and an MA and MFA in Dance from Texas Woman's University. She is currently the Head of Dance in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, where she was selected by the Student Government Association as the recipient of the 2008 Outstanding Professor Award, and where she received the 2005 Alumni Association's New Faculty Award. Genevieve is an elected representative to the National Board of the American College Dance Festival, sits on the Advisory Board of Ballet Lubbock, and is a former Panel Chair for the Texas Commission on the Arts. She and her family reside in Lubbock.
This production features new technologies in lighting and is co-sponsored by Stagelight Inc. Equipment for the event is being generously provided by Rosco Laboratories Inc., VARI*LITE, Clay Paky, and Selador.
Admission: Free. First come seating will begin at 7:30 pm
Location and Parking:
Please note that parking for the event is not free. Hamman Hall is located on the campus of Rice University at entrance 20 & 21 off of Rice Blvd. The most convenient parking lot for Hamman Hall is the North located at entrance 20 or 21 off Rice Blvd. Entrance to the North Parking lot is by credit card only and the cost usually averages $7.00. Additional parking information is available at
or by phone at 713-348-5223 or 5996.
CHRISTINA KEEFE NAMED NEW THEATRE DIRECTOR & LECTURER
Christina Keefe, currently a theatre lecturer in the Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts at Rice, was appointed to the position of director and lecturer of Rice Theatre Program beginning January 1, 2008. Christina will assume the position currently held by Trish Rigdon, who will be leaving Rice after six years as director of the Rice Theatre Program and former facutly sponsor of the Rice Players.
Christina comes to Rice after teaching in the Lehigh University Department of Performing Arts, where she was the Wolfston Visiting Professor. There she taught introduction to acting, characterization, and voice and diction. Her teaching career also includes appointments at Muhlenberg College, DeSales University, and Duke University.
Christina's professional career includes artistic associate/vocal coach at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, Center Valley, PA (2001-03), artistic associate at the Warehouse Theatre in Greenville, SC (1992-2001), and head of the theatre program at The Fine Arts Center (South Carolina's first secondary school for the literary, visual, and performing arts). Christina has taught private classes in acting, voice, speech, and movement for professionals in the theatrical arts and she has presented a multitude of workshops exploring "Improv," "Voice Exploration," and "Acting for High School Teachers."
Beyond her academic career, Christina has appeared in film, television, off-Broadway, and regional Stock. Some of her credits for television include Getting In (Disney Productions), Spenser: For Hire (Thrill Kill), and the lead role in Nightmare. She has also appeared in the off-Broadway productions of Couple of White Chicks (as Hannah Mae) at the West Side Arts Theatre in New York and On Fire (as Miranda) at the Nat Horne Theatre in New York.
Christine received a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in acting from the New York University, School of the Arts, Adler Conservatory. She also holds a certificate from the British American Drama Academy (BADA) in association with the Yale School of Drama (summer course held at Oxford University, England).
A script to screen reading of filmmaker and guest artist Kim Henkel's script, Exurbia will be held Monday, October 29, 7:00 p.m., at Rice Media Center. Exurbia: A first date gone horribly wrong--a black comedy about a ludicrously dysfunctional exurban family.