Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Trine University presents community workshop!


In 1938, while Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning show, “Our Town,” was playing on Broadway, another one of his shows opened. That show was the “Merchant of Yonkers” which only ran for 39 performances and then was canceled. This was a bit of a blow for Wilder as “Our Town” was quickly becoming America’s favorite show on Broadway. (To this day, it is the most performed play in high schools around the country.)

Both shows were written when Wilder was 41 and they were very different plays. “Our Town” focuses on the fragility of life while the “Merchant of Yonkers” was more of a romantic comedy. After the show closed, he set it aside and went on to other plays, other essays and his teaching abilities. Wilder was a 1920 graduate of Yale University with a skill of the written word.

It was almost twenty years later he re-wrote the “Merchant of Venice” giving a larger voice to the matchmaker, Dolly Levi. He added her monologue and worked on the other dialogues for the other cast members. It opened back up on December 5, 1955. Later it was turned into the musical we all grew up with, “Hello Dolly,” starring Carol Channing. “The Matchmaker” is a completely delightful romantic comedy taking place in the 1880’s. It is still being performed in schools today.

The Trine University Theatre will be sharing this performance with the public April 11, 12, and 13. We can’t wait! In the meantime, the wonderful cast including our Drama Department is hosting a workshop for middle-school and high school students on Wednesday of this week.

Several weeks ago, one of my very favorite senior actors, Sean Carpenter, came to me with an idea. He had been mulling it around a bit and briefly mentioned it to me, but now he was serious and very interested about hosting this workshop. I love listening to my students, and I love listening to my cast members. Their ideas on the show and other events are something I do take seriously. I gave him the green light to put together this workshop, and he has done an outstanding job. We met with our dean, Darrin Wilcox, who loved the idea and gave us the go ahead to make this happen. Ryan Long put together a great flyer and we sent out packets to the local schools and other folks. Unfortunately, spring break hit in the middle of our recruiting campaign, so I thought another plug would help our local theatre kids.

Trine is not a university based on the arts, and yet, we have the most outstanding students in our photography, music and theatre programs. These kids work in all those departments because they absolutely love it! The workshop we have put together showcases many facets of theatre that would be of great interest to our local kids. On Wednesday, April 3rd, from 4:00 to 8:00, we are welcoming these students to the Furth Center. They will have the chance to tour the facility, spend time on the stage with our actors in workshops on character development, blocking, costume design, tech (sound and lighting) and Q and A with the actors. Supper is on us! Then they will get a bare bones rehearsal following the supper. When I say bare bones, I mean we are still not using many props and no staging or furniture has been added. That all comes during our tech week starting on Sunday.

There is absolutely no charge for this event. We want your kids, grandkids, and students to come and share their own love or curiosity of theatre, especially at the University level. Students do need to register to attend, however! If you send me an email, I will send you the form, and they can bring it on Wednesday. Maybe there are young people who might be interested in theatre but have never had much exposure to this art form. If that is the case, this is also for them!

I really applaud my theatre group for putting this all together. It is a lot of work, especially the week before we open, but they are absolutely delighted to offer this workshop! I know I would have loved doing this when I was in high school. Send me your questions, your interest and I will send the information so that your young person can explore this opportunity. Maybe someday, we will do this for all the curious grown-ups.

Until Wednesday, the stage awaits you!

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