UNCG Theatre took its edgy adaptation of The Revenger's Tragedy on the road to Washington, D.C. At the request of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, no less.
Tragedy, adapted and directed by theatre professor Jim Wren, was invited to play the Kennedy Center April 15 as part of the 2009 National Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). Only one production from each of eight regions across the country is invited to the national festival each year.
The odds are better that you'll make it to the finals in the NCAA than get invited to the Kennedy Center, said theatre professor John Wolf, who coordinated the Region IV festival hosted by UNCG in February. It's such a validation of the hard work that's gone on in this department for years now.
UNCG Theatre had not taken a production to the Kennedy Center since 1974.
That a national selection committee, headed by KCACTF Artistic Director Gregg Henry, chose Tragedy to represent Region IV was a pleasant surprise to those in the Department of Theatre. They knew their production was top-notch exciting, original, well-written and well-acted but it was also somewhat unwieldy, involving complex sets and a cast and crew of 70 people.
Wren and his writing partner, Joe Sturgeon, re-imagined Thomas Middleton's Jacobean tale as a bloody homage to female action thrillers. Set in a modern underworld, it premiered in Taylor Theatre last November.
There were such outstanding productions at the regional festival, and our students had a chance to see these productions, Department of Theatre head Jim Fisher said. They had a chance to see that they stood a little taller. It's a great confidence-builder and an incredible, incredible honor.
The theatre department also has some other new things on the horizon. By July 1, 2010, it will join the School of Music and Department of Dance to become a new performing arts school on campus. It is hoped the reconfiguration of the school and departments into one unit will bring more visibility to the programs as well as foster collaboration and interdisciplinary creative work.
Dr. John Deal, who is UNCG's music dean, will remain dean of the reconfigured school. Oversight for Aycock Auditorium and the University Concert & Lecture Series will be transferred to the school from the Division of Student Affairs.
Reconfiguration of UNCG's performing arts programs has been discussed for several years, most recently in 2007-08 by the Campus Arts Committee.