More than seventy alumnae involved with the performing arts will be on campus the weekend of October 23 to celebrate "Theatre in the World," a series of events designed to connect alumnae and current members of the Mount Holyoke community who share an interest in theatre. "This is an occasion for students to meet alumnae role models, learn about the 'business,' and see the range of lives and careers that might lie before them," said John Lemly, theatre arts chair.
Opening on Friday evening with "Women and the Future of the American Theatre," an address by Tina Packer of Shakespeare and Co., the weekend will also include a reading of a new work by renowned playwright Suzan-Lori Parks '85 on Saturday night.
Highlights of Saturday include an all-day open rehearsal in the New York Room of In the Blood, Parks's examination of the stereotypes of a welfare mother, her five children, and their urban landscape. Parks will direct a cast that includes former MHC theater major and current Director of Diversity and Inclusion Rochelle Calhoun '83 and Obie winner and MHC Visiting Artist Robbie McCauley in her MHC acting debut. That evening, Parks and cast will give a reading of the play. Interestingly, cast members have double roles, playing both adults and children. The event will close with a "talkback," during which the audience, playwright, and cast will discuss the play.
Also on Saturday, there will be a performance workshop led by McCauley and Kathryn Gagnon '55 of the Penumbra Theatre of St. Paul. Those attending will take part in improvisational exercises from various actor-training methods. For unflinching film lovers, there will be a screening of Where is Stephanie?, a documentary by independent filmmaker Bess Belle O'Brien '81. The film focuses on adolescents at risk in northern Vermont; it offers a graphic but moving account of the aftermath of a teenager's rape and murder. Following the screening, O'Brien will discuss filmmaking with the student Film Collaborative. Finally, aspiring actors will gain an edge through mock auditions held by casting director Karen Keyser Benson '63.
The program will conclude on Sunday with a breakfast discussion of the future of theatre at MHC and beyond. For details about Theatre in the World events, please check the CSJ calendar.