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July 23, 2012

BA Actor Training Program's Luverne Seifert takes Cherry Orchard Project across Minnesota

Luverne Seifert, who leads the U of M's Bachelor of Arts Actor Training program, and his wife Darcey Engen, who heads Augsburg' theatre program are featured in a cover story about a unique site -specific production of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" in the Star Tribune( 7/21/12). Writer Graydon Royce reports that the century old drama finds fresh meaning and receptive audiences in the farmland of southern Minnesota. Using historic homes in five Minnesota towns, and recruiting local actors along the way, this rolling tour is underwritten by Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.
"More than 100 years ago, Chekhov wrote 'The Cherry Orchard' about Russian aristocrats who lose their country estate while examining how land becomes part of family identity," states the reporter. That same issue now faces Minnesota farm families as they must decide what to do with the land they grew up on. Rent? Sell? Move there and work the farm? Seifert's The Cherry Orchard Project "brings to farm communities a classic play that resonates with the modern-day reality of land being bid up because of high commodity prices and aggressive agribusinesses."
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July 2, 2012

Department of Theatre Arts & Dance Announces 2012-13 Season

The University of Minnesota Department of Theatre Arts and Dance is pleased to announce its 2012-13 performance season. Classes begin on September 4, which also signals the start of the auditions, rehearsals, design plans, shop activities and creative work that lead to the public productions of the fall, winter, and spring.

On October 22 and 23, the first Creative Collaboration of the BA program, a new work based on Romeo and Juliet and led by Barbra Berlovitz , will take the stage. Creative Collaborations present informal showings after a series of intense rehearsal weeks focused on ensemble theater creation; production elements are usually light, and creativity and artistic risk are always high.

Also in October, a departmental collaboration with Theatre Mu, under the direction of Artistic Director Rick Shiomi, will open for public performance. The project will involve Asian students and cultural organizations, and is the first of this season's RiCap initiatives (the department's Re-Imagining Community Partnerships Program). Tentatively titled Under My Skin: The Asian American Experience, it will be based upon the stories, experiences, and perspectives of Asian American students at the University of Minnesota.

In November, the season's second Creative Collaboration, developed in cooperation with Workhaus Playwright's Collective, will be presented. The project is expected to focus on a way of playwriting through improvisation that places the actors, the director and the playwrights in a constant state of reciprocal collaboration. This project is as yet untitled.

From November 1 through 11, the Stoll Thrust Theater will host the annual Senior Classic from the BFA/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program. The Classic showcases the work of the senior class; this year's production is The Rover: A Banish'd Cavalier, to be led and adapted by well-known director Joel Sass from the play by Aphra Behn. The Rover will be the BFA program's first in the tenure of new program director Joe Price. Also in November, the BFA/Guthrie Theater Actor Training program will present its sophomore class projects in American Realism in the Kilburn Arena Theater. Three projects will be performed in repertory.

December 6 through 9 will bring the always-popular University Dance Theatre presentation of Dance Revolutions on the grand stage of the Whiting Proscenium Theatre. The annual concert will feature work by Cowles Visiting Artists and faculty artists, featuring the performance of students majoring in Dance. The exciting line up of repertory Works include Bill T. Jones' masterwork D-Man In The Waters (Part 1), Arnie Zane's The Gift/No God Logic, Donald Byrd's JAZZ 1 and Shapiro & Smith's Family.

December 12 is the last day of classes for the fall semester, and will be immediately followed by a special weekend of performances of a project led by Design/Tech Program Director Marcus Dilliard. The Dickens Experiment is intended as an opportunity for MFA design candidates to be involved with a new work, and will be presented at Open Eye Theater. In an alliance with The Moving Company, which worked with the Department last fall on All's Fair/The War Within, Steve Epp is writing the adaptation and Dominique Serrand will direct. The Dickens Experiment will be based, in part, on Dilliard's long years of association with A Christmas Carol. This is the Department's second RiCap project of 2012-2013.

The second semester will begin with a big change in the Rarig Center landscape, as the Kilburn Arena closes for a complete renovation; it will re-open in the fall of 2013 as a flexible performance space with a LED lighting system and a spring floor among many other improvements. It is the first renovation of the Rarig Center since it opened its doors in 1973.

Classes begin on January 22, which will also mark the start of work on a Creative Collaboration with Nautilus Music -Theater. The work will create a music-theater-dance exploration of Jethro Tull's rock-n-roll cantata Thick as a Brick. The work will be seen in late February. In March, faculty member Michael Sommers will lead and present another Creative Collaboration in the general area of shadow puppets.

In early March, the junior company of the BFA/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program will present its Greek Project, and in April the sophomore company will open and perform its Shakespeare projects in repertory.

From April 12 to April 21, the Department will present its third RiCap project, in collaboration with Theatre Novi Most, with a script by well-known playwright Constance Congdon. The project will be directed by faculty member and Novi Most founder/artistic director Lisa Channer. A Miracle is inspired by the play An Ordinary Miracle by Russian writer Evgeny Shvartz, and is described as "a fairy tale for adults" for audiences of all ages. Vladimir Rovinsky, co-artistic director of Theatre Novi Most, will also participate.

Also in April, the BFA Junior Company will perform their comedies in repertory, and the Senior Company will present their New Plays and Snapshots in repertory at the Guthrie Theater's Dowling Studio.

In May, the freshman company of the BFA/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Projrect will present its annual Fresh Scenes program in the Stoll Thrust.

For the second year, a series of Frameworks lectures will be presented, coordinated by Professor Sonja Kuftinec, featuring many of our guest artists and faculty members.

And in the summer of 2013, the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance once again moves it base of operations to the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, permanently docked on Harriet Island in St. Paul, presenting a summer season with a troupe of young actors from across our programs.