Acting dramatic

U.Va. Drama gears up for another successful, more serious season


As the fall semester approaches, students and faculty of the University drama department look forward to another semester of bringing exciting new productions to life.

Students put on “Museum” and “A Flea In Her Ear” last semester, along with a spring dance concert and a devised piece entitled “The Forgetting River.” Each production brought different elements to the season.

“Museum was a fascinating production to work [on] as an actor alone just because the cast was so big and the nature of the piece itself was very interesting,” said Jacqueline Ford, third-year Drama major and vice president of Virginia Players, the student liaison group for the department. “It was a piece that made the audience and the actors think about what art is, how we interpret art, and how the art relates to the community at large.”

This semester, the department is moving toward more serious material, first putting up the Southern gospel and blues musical “Every Tongue Confess,” directed by Assoc. Drama Prof. Theresa Davis. The show focuses on the aftermath of a series of church burnings in a small Alabama town.

Assoc. Drama Prof. Doug Grissom will direct the Pulitzer Prize winning play “The Rimers of Eldritch” — coming to the Caplin Theater in November.

“The plot centers around a mystery of who committed a murder, but the play is really an exploration of the undercurrents — rumors, secrets, crimes — of a small town,” Grissom said. “It’s very theatrical in that it jumps back and forth in time, and ends up creating a complex mosaic of the community.”

In late November, the dance program will produce a fall concert.

The department is currently undergoing a semester of transition, as the previous class of graduate actors departed in May. Eight new graduate students begin the two-year MFA Professional Actor Training Program this fall.

Since auditions for fall shows have already occurred, however, these students cannot appear in this semester’s productions. This adds an interesting element to the shows this semester, as more undergraduates and community members will be appearing on stage.

Colleen Kelly, director of the graduate acting program, said the graduate actors have “already started creating an original performance piece that will be included in U.Va.’s commemoration of the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall.”

Though auditions for the fall shows take place in the previous semester, first-year students who are passionate about drama can contact the department and assist on the run crew or as costume dressers.

Virginia Players hold auditions for their Lab Series in the fall, where students can receive funding to put up their choice of production and perform in select drama department venues.

“I know that at times approaching an entire department can seem overwhelming, but … I thoroughly encourage all first-years to audition for the spring shows … and not to be discouraged if they don’t happen to be cast,” said fourth-year Drama major Kristina McCloskey, who is president of the Virginia Players. “This department values work ethic and any passion for the arts, and if you have any interest in this department there are definite ways it can benefit you and you can be a huge help to us as well.”

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