The Department of German Studies at MHC is getting ready for the annual German theatre festival and competition, Deutsches Theaterfest, which will take place Thursday, April 27, from 9 am to 5 pm in Chapin Auditorium.
The twenty-ninth annual competition will feature middle school, high school and college-level students of German from 15 schools and colleges in New England, New York, and New Jersey. The students will perform short dramatic scenes (in German) before a jury of secondary school German instructors and members of the Mount Holyoke theatre arts and German studies departments. Representatives of the festival's cosponsors, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Boston and the Goethe Institute Boston, will also be represented on the panel of judges. Prizes, including special acting awards, will be awarded to participating theatre groups.
Theatrical offerings will include adaptations of Grimm's fairytales; original plays; student-written works; and excerpts from plays by Bertolt Brecht, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, and Ephraim Kishon. Mount Holyoke students will participate in the festival as stage managers, lighting technicians, stagehands, greeters, and prop coordinators. In addition to more than 150 participants, approximately 300 middle and high school students will come to watch the performances.
Donna Van Handle, senior lecturer of German studies and dean of international students, is organizing the event, as she has for the past 19 years. "Every spring German language students from all over the Northeast look forward with great anticipation to their annual trip to Mount Holyoke to participate in the Deutsches Theaterfest," Van Handle said. "I think the Theaterfest has become so popular and well known around the country because it offers students the opportunity to use the language they've learned in a contextually meaningful way. At the same time they also realize that language learning can be lots of fun."
Mount Holyoke faculty who will serve as jury members are Joyce Devlin, professor of theatre arts, and Erika Rundle, assistant professor of theatre arts; Gabriele Davis, professor and chair of German studies; and Holly Liu and Gary Schmidt, both visiting assistant professors in the German studies department. Joining them from the Five Colleges will be professor Heidi Gilpin from Amherst College and professor Sarah McGaughey from UMass. Also on the panel are Donald Sanders, artistic director of the Massachusetts International Festival for the Arts; Marc and Susan Smith, cofounders of the award-winning Foothills Theatre Company of Worcester, Massachusetts; and William E. O'Brien, president of the Associated German Societies of New England.
It should be a great event. As the Germans say, Hals-und Beinbruch (break a leg)!