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   Date: 2/25/10 Bookmark and Share

Student Play Project Honors Hallie Flanagan

The Hallie Flanagan Project


an act of the living by Jane Jones, directed by Maureen Boman, starring Nora Mally

No Child Left: The Living Obituary by Kendra Arimoto, directed by Abbie Chase, starring Nora Mally and Meredith Mitchell

My Dad Was My Hero by Lisa Flora Meyers, directed by Nora Mally, starring Meredith Mitchell

Guest Lecture by Nora Mally directed by Meredith Mitchell, starring Maureen Boman

Produced by Nikki Beck; stage management by Hana Kadoyama

Last July, Thin Man Theatre, a local company founded in 2008 by Smith theatre students Nora Mally ’10 and Nikki Beck ’08, produced its first play in Berkeley, Calif. A few months later, Mally and Beck, who have both worked with the New Century Theatre at Smith, were itching to produce their second play.

The result of their aspiration, the Hallie Flanagan Project, will be performed on Monday, March 1, at 7 p.m. in, fittingly, the Hallie Flanagan Studio Theatre, Mendenhall Center.

Mally and Beck recently wrote about the Hallie Flanagan Project for the Gate:

We wanted our second show to be something that celebrated Smith College and the theatre department, but also something that could be very ensemble-based, so that we could have a good time working on it. We focused our production on Hallie Flanagan and the Federal Theatre Project. After the House Un-American Activities Committee shut down the Works Progress Administration and the Federal Theatre Project in 1939, Hallie Flanagan was invited to come to Smith, where she was given the post of Dean of the College, and the task of founding a drama department. While at Smith, Hallie taught a class called "Theatre as Life Force." It was hard to resist.

The main goal of this project is to focus on the joys and challenges of doing theatre, at Smith and in the real world. The focus on Hallie Flanagan inspired us not only because of her Smith connection, but also because of the brief span of the Federal Theatre Project, which showed a potential—and ultimately failed—dream of what theatre could accomplish. We are looking for theatre that will provoke and inspire without straying too far from our own backyards.

We asked playwrights, including current students, alumnae, and grad students, to join our project. We were thrilled by the responses: Playwrights Jane Jones ’09, Lisa Flora Meyers ’11, Kendra Arimoto, an MFA Candidate in playwriting, and Nora Mally ’10 wrote a total of six monologues.

For most of us this was the first time in our Smith careers that we didn’t have to answer to anyone else while making theatre. We set our own schedules, gave ourselves our own ultimatums, and collectively discussed all of the artistic decisions without a faculty member to approve or disapprove of our choices, although we are very grateful for the departmental support we’ve received. That alone has been a very freeing experience, especially for the graduating seniors among us, and has helped us prove to ourselves that we are ready to take on leadership roles in the world of professional theatre.

We then approached Abbie Chase ’10, Meredith Mitchell ’10, and Maureen Boman ’10, all three strong actors and directors, and all three readily agreed to join the project. Keeping the ensemble small not only helped us to develop close actor/director collaboration, but also allowed everyone to work with each other in different capacities.

The result of this grand collaboration is the Hallie Flanagan Project, six plays in one night, Monday, March 1. Free and open to the public.


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