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Summer Rep Serves Up Four Diverse Shows

June 12, 2012
SHSU Media Contact: Kim Mathie

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Sam Houston State’s University Theatre Center will present four shows in repertory June 21-28 at 8 p.m. in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Dance Theatre.

stage actor“The Summer Rep program is a longstanding tradition in Sam theatre,” said Katie Stefaniak, UTC manger. “It’s a bare-bone approach to theatre—no full-scale sets—but it’s such a good learning process.”

“Betrayal,” written by Harold Pinter and directed by Stefaniak, opens the Summer Rep season on June 21-22.

“It’s a classic piece that I hope we can breathe new life into,” said Stefaniak. “The dialogue is so smart and witty; it’s a great challenge for me and the actors as well.”

“Betrayal” is the story of a classic love triangle set in London and described in reverse chronological order. It opens with what should traditionally be the story’s closing segment and moves backwards during a nine-year period through lives of Jerry, Emma, and Emma’s lover, Robert.

“It’s very much about human nature and relationships,” said Stefaniak. “It makes you appreciate when you have honest relationships.”

Following “Betrayal” will be “The Credeaux Canvas,” written by Kevin Bunin and directed by senior musical theatre major Eboni Bell, on June 23-24.

After being cut out of his father’s will and finding himself broke, Jamie hatches a plan to forge a painting by an obscure French artist named Jean-Claude Credeaux and to pass it off on a gullible art collector. He enlists his girlfriend Amelia to model and his friend Winton to paint. But what seems like an easy plan quickly spirals out of control.

“The challenge at first was deciding what a Credeaux painting would look like,” Bell said. “That’s important because the painting is like a character on-stage.”

For Bell, the play is about the characters, their relationship to each other, and, more importantly, to themselves.

“Jamie is the kind of character who tries and tries to please his father but always fails,” said Bell. “I think the piece is relatable because many of us try to please others and not work on ourselves. That’s the biggest tragedy here: not finding yourself.”

GPAC box office manager Calvin Hudson will take on “The Laramie Project,” a docu-drama about the town of Laramie, Wyo., in the aftermath of the beating death of gay student Matthew Shepard. Moises Kaufman and the members of the Tectonic Theatre Project traveled to Laramie and conducted interviews with the people of the town about Shepard and their reaction to his death. The play, edited from those interviews and from journal entries by members of the company, will be presented on June 25-26.

Summer 2012 Repertory

June 21-22, 8 p.m.
—written by Harold Pinter, directed by UTC staff member Katie Stefaniak, and featuring Garrett Line (Robert), Katie Porterfield (Emma), Chris Shultz (Waiter) and Zane Thrift (Jerry).

June 23-24, 8 p.m.
“The Credeaux Canvas”
—written by Kevin Bunin, directed by senior theatre major Eboni Bell, and featuring Stephanie Dew (Amelia), Cameron Davis (Jamie), Calvin Hudson (Winston) and Katie Stefaniak (Tess).

June 25-26, 8 p.m.
“The Laramie Project”
—written by Moises Kaufman and members of the Tectonic Theater Project, directed by COFAMC staff member Calvin Hudson, and featuring Eboni Bell, Cameron Davis, Hunter Fredrick, Garret Line, Michael Madro, Trace Rustin Pool, Katie Porterfield, Danielle Turner, Laren Smith and Kiara Steelhammer.

June 27-28, 8 p.m.
“Murder by Mistake”
—written by John Kaasik, directed by UTC staff member Craig Brossman, and featuring Stephanie Dew, Hunter Fredrick, April Keith, Michael Madro, Trace Rustin Pool, Camry Selden, Kiara Steelhammer and Zane Thift. Costumes and makeup by April Keith.

*Lighting design and sound for all four shows created by Mitchell Cronin and Blake Kenyon, respectively.

“It’s not as heavy a subject matter as it sounds,” Hudson said. “It’s about a hate crime, yes, but it’s about the town itself and their reaction to Matthew’s death, their opinions on hate crimes, sexuality, humanity.”

Hudson believes that audiences won’t be able to help but to engage with the material.

“These are real people, using their own words,” said Hudson. “The dialogue is wonderfully written. There’s something inherently engaging about real dialogue. When it’s so real, people tend to commit to the experience more.”

That’s why Hudson hopes people come see “The Laramie Project”—the insight it provides into other people.

“It’s not sending a message about being gay or getting people to change their mind about gay people,” said Hudson. “Rather, it holds so many opinions and perspectives that it informs, instructs and promotes tolerance.

“If we lived in a Utopian society where everybody loves everybody, then we wouldn’t need ‘The Laramie Project,’” continued Hudson. “But we don’t. We need people to continue to see ‘The Laramie Project.’”

Rounding out a summer season of betrayal, disappointments, and differing opinions, is a play of a completely different stripe. That’s what director Craig Brossman was going for when he chose to direct “Murder by Mistake” by John Kaasik, presented on June 27-28.

“It’s dark comedy, very dark,” said Brossman. “But it’s the kind of play that audiences can just sit back, relax and enjoy the antics.”

“Murder by Mistake” is about Kyle and Mike, two pranksters trying to out prank each other—though a fake gunshot wound, fake jealous boyfriend, fake lottery ticket—when things go a little too far.

“It’s about having the ability to laugh at yourself,” said Brossman. “Kyle’s the one who always pranks others, but he gets a dose of his own medicine and at the end of the day, he has to laugh at himself.”

Among the unexpected challenges of this piece were the jokes themselves.

“The play was written in 1995 so some of the cultural references alluded the cast who are in their late teens, early 20s,” said Brossman. “But that’s part of the process, identifying the jokes, finding the tempo. We laugh everyday.”

As part of the Summer Repertory program, interested students sign up for the summer I or II course, and, as a group, they decide which projects to produce.

“Everyone votes anonymously on the project they want to work on—whether as a director or actor or stage manager,” explained Stefaniak. “It’s also about collaboration. Everyone works on more than one show.”

This is the first time that summer rep has performed in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center Dance Theater. The performances are usually in the Showcase Theatre, which currently is being remodeled.

“It’s exciting to perform in the dance theater because I’ve never worked in this space before and that kind of change keeps you on your toes,” said Stefaniak. “I’ve gotten used to working in the Showcase Theatre so I’ve had to adjust to the new space which is a good experience.”

Tickets are $5 general admission.



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