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Theatre Dept. press release   Date: 1/15/13 Bookmark and Share

Students in on Ground Floor of Theater Production

Students at Smith and the other Five Colleges are working alongside the Epic Theatre Ensemble this week in the New York City company’s latest residency on campus, from January 11 to 19. The Epic Theatre Ensemble, in collaboration with students, is producing four projects, including new plays by Dominique Morisseau and Ken Urban; an interactive event by Mark Harris; and the play Born With Teeth, drawn from Shakespeare’s Richard III.

A scene from Epic Theatre Ensemble's award-winning Shakespeare Remix after-school program.

The Epic Theatre Ensemble is a company of actors and theater professionals in New York City who produce socially mindful plays Off Broadway. More than 40 students from the Five Colleges are working with Epic members Ron Russell, Melissa Friedman, James Wallert and Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., in developing the stage projects. This is the Epic Ensemble’s fifth January residency at Smith.

Participants in the residency work in groups, in various rooms in the Mendenhall Center, focusing on the early-stage theater works, and taking part in workshops on playwriting, directing and acting. Participants also conduct research and engage in improvisation and creative brainstorming to assist with the development of the theater projects.

The Epic residency is made possible by funding from the college’s Alumnae Association, Lecture Committee, and the theatre department.

Remaining public presentations, which are free and open to the public, will take place:

Saturday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m., TV Studio, Mendenhall

Mend, a new play by Dominique Morisseau, directed by Kamilah Forbes, starring Cherise Booth and Nikiva Mathis.

Sunday, Jan. 20, 3 p.m., Green Room, Mendenhall

Born With Teeth, directed by Ron Russell, with James Wallert as Richard III.

(Presentations of Ken Urban’s play A Guide for the Homesick, and Mark Harris’ interactive work took place on January 13 and 14.)

A cornerstone of the Epic Ensemble’s mission is to develop socially conscious works for theater, with the intention of inspiring dialogue and interaction around social issues. The company, which opened on September 11, 2001, was a recipient of the 2009 Coming Up Taller Award, presented by First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as two OBIE Awards, Off Broadway’s highest honor, and numerous other awards.

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