College of Saint Mary Theatre Program

MarieSpecial Events

Last spring the College of Saint Mary Theatre Program made some changes to meet the unique needs of the students and the college itself.
Faced with the prospect of replacing their theatre instructor, Christopher Krampe, Chair of the Performing Arts Program, made the decision to create a Visiting  Dramatic Artist Position which would allow the College to hire a person for one semester each year who would teach and lead the students in preparation for a spring production.
“This solution works very well for our institution and its mission. Our students get to work with diverse dramatic talents who bring different skills and experiences to the art.”, says Krampe. He added, “Each year we will also be commissioning a new all female dramatic work, which gives our students even more insight into artistic creation and development of the artist.”
Marshall B. Garrett, who has a background in Shakespeare and New plays, is the Visiting Artist for Spring 2017.  The production, which will be presented the last week of April, is “Sweet Are the Uses” by Merlyn Q. Sell a former classmate and frequent collaborator with Garrett.  This position is a perfect fit for Garrett as he emphasized,” I tend to fight for greater representation of women and minorities on stage and this is important for the all-female student body at the College of Saint Mary.”
“The point of this new play, which is entirely composed of lines from Shakespeare rearranged, is to take away the ‘hard’ from Shakespeare.” “Students are finding the power in his words, how he arranges them and how Merlyn repurposed them.”  “The play is a tapestry of Shakespearean text, telling the story of many of Shakespeare’s heroines overcoming adversity under an unseen male tyrant.”, says Garrett.  Describing the characters Garrett says, ” One of our characters is allegedly the Princess of France from Love’s Labors Lost, and to an extent she is, however the role is based on Hamlet.” “Our Lady Percy draws a lot from Shakespeare’s kings.” “These are roles not traditionally played by women. Instead of doing a regendered casting of those roles, we are putting the words of these great male character into the hearts of new great female roles.”
In the Theatre Production class, which is designed with play production in mind,  Garrett has nine students ranging in age from 18-44, “Eight are playing roles and one is doing the costumes and is stage managing.” “One of the actors has taken the time to compose some music for a song that she sings in the play.” “The set will consist of a couple of painted flats which some art students will paint along with art professor Jeff Spencer.”, says Garrett. As the program continues Garrett explains,  “Each guest theatre faculty in the spring semester will have a different focus.” “The role does require someone who is passionate about making theatre with women, who is willing to explore the non-traditional performance spaces that the College of Saint Mary has to offer, and who has a different voice than those who have come before, perhaps with an interest in Boal, Devised Theatre, Brecht, Improvisation or Commedia dell’ arte.”
The College of Saint Mary does not have a Theatre Major, but both Krampe and Garrett see the importance of providing theatre classes and productions. “Our goal is to create highly informed dramatic arts advocates and lifelong supporters of the fine arts”, says Krampe.
Garrett echoes this statement saying, ” What’s important for me is to impart an appreciation of what goes into a production, and the life skills a student can take away from a theatre program; collaboration, self-starting, communication and grit”.