Decaturish: Emory prepares to host Shakespeare’s First Folio

Emory University is preparing to host William Shakespeare’s First Folio this fall with a number of Shakespeare at Emory events.

It was announced in 2015 that Emory was chosen to be the Georgia site to display “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” It’s a national traveling exhibition of the 1623 book that gave us 18 of Shakespeare’s plays, including “Macbeth” and “The Tempest.”

The tour of the folio is going to all 50 states, Washington, and Puerto Rico, according to the Folger Shakespeare Library’s First Folio website.

read the Decaturish article in full here.

Q & A with “As You Like It” student artist, Jennifer Lenchner

 

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Jennifer’s sketches

Q: How did you get involved with Theater Emory’s two productions of “As You Like It”?

A: After exhausting the normal art classes Emory has to offer and a semester of independent study with Professor Kerry Moore, I asked to do another independent study. Both art professors had very busy schedules so I went to my co-major advisor Leslie Taylor and asked to do an independent study with her. She then offered the opportunity for me to do sculptures for Theater Emory’s Spring production!

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Close-up of one of Jennifer’s completed tumbleweeds

Q: So what are you doing for the production?

A: I’m the Artist in Residence and am creating two different series of sculptures. One series is focused on being a part of the environment as tumbleweeds made of animal parts. The other series is composed of 5 individual pieces of animal parts that are put together vertically on the side of a wall.  The tumbleweed pieces are made specifically to be utilized on stage whereas the latter series is made to be minimally used on stage besides being put up by the actors to become part of the environment/scene. 

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Detail of an animal part

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you faced creating a piece of art for the theater?

A: Truthfully, I’ve found that making art for theater has been less challenging in some ways. Creating art for theater offers a lot of support, there are multiple minds to pick about the direction I am going in with a piece. Since I am making pieces for a play, I get more specific comments instead of the general nod of approval from my art professors. Related to my previous comment, I started off creating pieces with a specific vision and purpose which made for an overall quicker process. Given what I just said, the biggest challenge I believe is creating art that is “big” enough for theater. I have made a wire sculpture piece that I adore, but from a long distance, the piece gets lost and hard to see for some of the audience. 

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Sculptures in progress

Q: Do you hope to continue working in theater in the future?

A: I have been surrounded by creative, fun, and supportive staff at the Mary Gray Munroe theater that have made artistic collaboration an absolute pleasure and supported my artistic creativity in making these sculptures. With that, I am definitely interested in working on the art side of theater again. 

Photo journal: Wala Hassan in England

Theater Studies student, Wala Hassan, shares her experience as a study abroad student at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) through photos.

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One of my first days at LAMDA was spent getting to explore Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. It was absolutely amazing! I had never seen a castle before and I got to see two of the most famous ones all in one week! I was a little over-excited (which is pretty clear in this picture). Hampton Court had the most beautiful gardens AND the most convoluted floor plan. I still don’t know if I saw even half of the whole grounds that day, but I did thoroughly enjoy myself. Hampton Court also has a maze that my friends and I made it through!
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With LAMDA, I got to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon for 3 days! It was a lovely trip, Stratford is such a beautiful place. On the trip, we saw two shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Doctor Faustus. Both shows were amazing. My entire group was completely blown away by Doctor Faustus in particular; I could have seen it five hundred more times. We also had the opportunity to take a masterclass exploring A Midsummer Night’s Dream!
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I think this looks like I’m sitting in front of a painting, but it’s actually the beautiful river Avon. I could have stared at it all day. While visiting Stratford, LAMDA arranged for us to explore Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It was really cool to be in the same place that Shakespeare was born, almost surreal. What made it even more surreal was that I saw his grave the same day. It was really cool to get to pay my respects to the bard in breathtaking Stratford-Upon-Avon.
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This is the Tower Bridge…almost. I tried to take a panorama photo with a view of the beautiful bridge, the Shard, and the Gherkin; turns out, panoramas can’t be taken with your phone sideways. I didn’t see this gem until I got home and had such a laugh that I decided to share it with my friends on Facebook. Someone shared it to Reddit and the next thing I knew, it went viral. One of my friends messaged me letting me know that TimeOut London shared my picture on their page.  It was pretty exciting since TimeOut is very famous, even if nobody knows I took the picture. It’s nice to have some anonymous fame for my Inception style tower bridge photo. Tagline: Failed Study Abroad Picture.
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I got to take to coolest boat ride to Greenwich and see the Prime Meridian line! I have to say, I really thought there was going to be some mega-crazy time warp from standing in two timezones at once, but alas there was none. On this hill, there were some very cool museums, a beautiful view, and a piece of a meteorite labeled “the oldest thing you will ever touch.” Of course I took advantage of that opportunity.
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Southbank is one of the most beautiful places and walks in London in my opinion. It’s a short walk from the London Eye, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the like. It’s also home to the National Theatre. I was lucky enough to see two shows at the National, one with Emory abroad and one with LAMDA. With LAMDA, I saw As You Like It which was pretty exciting, and I can’t wait to see the productions at Theater Emory when I get back!
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One Wednesday afternoon, my professor at LAMDA decided to send us on a scavenger hunt to an undisclosed place. My group ended up in Spitalfields in East London. The architecture there is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s the only place I’ve seen where there are building erected pre-1500s juxtaposed with the Shard and Gherkin buildings that look like they were built in the future. We explored every little bit (or at least tried to). It was an amazing Wednesday afternoon. I later returned with my Emory abroad group and found stuff I had missed the first time, including the Denis Severs house, which was the COOLEST thing ever. 10 out of 10. Would recommend.
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I entered a ticket lottery to see Red Velvet and didn’t win, but I did score discounted tickets! I was so fortunate to get a chance to see the show at the famous Garrick Theatre and also to meet the cast, including Adrian Lester (pictured), afterwards. The whole experience was definitely worth standing outside for over an hour! The show was so amazing and really powerful. I first learned about the show in my History of Drama and Theater II class so I was VERY excited to learn that Kenneth Branagh was remounting a production and that Olivier-winning Adrian Lester was reprising the role of Aldridge. I even got to see it from the third row! So I basically fan-girled that whole day (and I still am fan-girling).
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Unfortunately, the outdoor Globe Theatre is closed during the winter. But that didn’t stop me and my friend Mona from taking a tour inside. It was absolutely beautiful and most definitely one of the best places in London. I got to touch the stage and the dried-on fake blood (haha). Even though the outdoor Globe is closed, the Sam Wannamaker Theatre was open and, fortunately, LAMDA took us to see Cymbeline there! It was a very intimate theatrical experience. I even got to experience what it was like to be a groundling (even though we weren’t technically on the ground). It was so magical to see the Globe, which is almost an exact replica, because my lover for Shakespeare is what brought me to LAMDA in the first place.

 

 

 

 

 

Emory University Announces 2016-2018 Fellow in Playwriting

March 10, 2016

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Holder (right) with theater faculty member Brent Glenn in rehearsal during Brave New Works 2016

Emory University’s Department of Theater Studies and Creative Writing Program announce the 2016-2018 Fellow in Playwriting, Jiréh Breon Holder.

One of only a few of its kind, the Emory Playwriting Fellowship provides an emerging playwright the opportunity to explore creative pursuits while engaging passionate Emory students and the Atlanta theater community at large.

Holder comes to Atlanta as an exciting new voice in American theater. “As a young artist gaining recognition in American theater, he is a terrific role model for our students,” explains artistic director of Theater Emory, Janice Akers. “When he speaks about his chosen path in life, his exuberance is palpable.”

Lisa Paulsen, director of The Playwriting Center of Theater Emory says, “Jiréh’s work is at once captivating and provocative.   We are delighted to offer him an artistic and academic home at Emory for the next two years, affording him the opportunity to renew his connections to Atlanta and create his newest work within our community.

Read full announcement here.

Theater Emory launches Shakespeare celebration with all-male and all-female productions of “As You Like It”

March 8, 2016

Four hundred years after William Shakespeare’s death, his work continues to resonate with audiences across the globe, providing new insights into the nature of love, power, and human existence. This month, Theater Emory embarks on a yearlong focus on the man whose words changed the world.

In honor of Shakespeare’s First Folio’s upcoming visit to campus, Theater Emory launches into a yearlong celebration of Shakespeare with the great romantic comedyAs You Like It,” running March 31 – April 10 in the Mary Gray Munroe Theater. As one character famously asks, “Can one desire too much of a good thing?” Theater Emory tackles this question head-on with two productions running in repertory: an all-male cast directed by Tim McDonough and an all-female cast directed by Jan Akers.

Read the press release in full here.

 

Looking Back on Brave New Works

Kate Howard (18C) shares her thoughts on her experience serving as the Communications Assistant for Brave New Works 2016

This semester I was fortunate enough to complete my Theater Practicum class a bit differently than what my peers might consider the typical route for the course, and I am so grateful that I did. Theater Practicum (otherwise known as THEA 200R) is a required course for all Theater Studies majors and minors.

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It was fascinating to witness collaboration in the rehearsal room.

According to the class description students are to “undertake a substantial technical theater responsibility in a Theater Emory production”.  My substantial responsibility was to serve as the Communications Assistant for this year’s Brave New Works program under the guidance and instruction of my two wonderful mentors, Emma Yarborough, the Programming Coordinator/ Company Manager of Theater Emory , and Lisa Paulsen, the Director of the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory! As the Communications Assistant, my responsibilities included photographing and sitting in on the rehearsals and performances of many of the Brave New Works, hospitality set-up and support for visiting artists, working towards updating the Playwriting Center/Brave New Works representation on the website, and documenting workshops and readings through blog posts among various other small projects. Through these responsibilities I gained new experiences learning  how to work a DSLR camera to take pictures in rehearsal, navigating the back end of a website to add content, as well as  understanding what goes into setting up an event so that it will run smoothly( from making sure everyone has a place to park there car to ordering and setting up the food for the after celebration).

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This was by far my favorite photograph. It was wonderful to observe Shannon Eubanks direct!

In addition to the work that took place outside of the rehearsal room, I especially enjoyed all the time I spent inside the rehearsal and performance spaces. It was fascinating to see the collaboration between the directors, playwrights, and actors as the rehearsals got off the ground and everyone got really absorbed and involved in the process. I watched one director get everyone up on their feet and worked through the script using a lot of movement.

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This is my good friend Zana at King James Rehearsal.

Another director was excited to talk through with the cast about their characters and used a lot of verbal idea processing to navigate the new work. As I went into another rehearsal, I watched a playwright add music to her piece and give it to the actors to listen to and use as they took on their characters. Hearing the questions that all of the artists asked, watching them think through the material, adding new lines to the script, or simply watching the piece progress as the cast worked through the new work was an experience I will never forget.Seeing my friends, my teachers, and professionals whom I have collaborated with in the past or brand new faces work together was a true joy and I am extremely proud to have so many wonderful role models! Though I may not have taken the typical Theater Practicum route, I would not change it one bit.

Always,

Kate Howard

 

Thoughts from Max McCreary, Assistant Director of “The Younger”

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Cast and crew of The Younger

During the past week I was fortunate enough to get to watch the true transformation of a play. I observed the metamorphosis of Anne Hugh’s play The Younger, in its world premier staged reading. Serving as assistant to director Jeremy Cohen gave me the opportunity to sit behind the table, instead of the music stand, as he and dramaturg Edith Freni helped to further trim and shape the play in development. Although my duties were not always called upon, I was allowed to act as an observer on the whole process and that provides a plethora of learning opportunities on its own. For any aspiring theater artist, watching other, established artists is key to developing your own vision as an artist. Even if I did not always agree with a decision that was made by Jeremy, or by an actor, it was still significant that I was able to see the process of making that decision, to analyze why I would or would not have done the same thing, and to hear how such a choice might come to fruition.

However, I believe that the most astonishing and miraculous thing about this show and the process of bringing it to the Schwartz Theater Lab was the incredible amount of work that Anne achieved over the course of four days. Anne came into the rehearsals with an open mind and impressed us all with her poise. She truly demonstrated grace under pressure as she mercilessly “killed her darlings” and pared a 112-page script down to 85. New text came floating in and out of binders right up until the opening of the house, which signified Anne’s next step on her journey of highly refined storytelling.

The way that we tell stories and the reasons that we are telling them are amazingly important to the creation of a new piece of theater. Jeremy and Edith went all in to provide a truly unique opportunity for Anne to listen, watch, and create… and in my opinion that’s what developing new work is all about.

~Max McCreary

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