WCSU to present ‘New Works — New Voices’ virtual production series
The Department of Theatre Arts at Western Connecticut State University will present “New Works – New Voices,” a virtual production series dedicated to amplifying the voices of marginalized and underrepresented playwrights and composers. The virtual series promises to provide meaningful performance, design and technical opportunities for WCSU students, and also to lift up the voices of writers and composers from diverse communities and populations.
The WCSU Department of Theatre Arts is dedicated to the safety of its students, and is leading the way in online production innovation. Each show has been rehearsed, performed and edited entirely online, and will be broadcast via livestream. Each production will have two showings, or “performances,” as part of a 10-day virtual production festival, spanning from Friday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 6. “New Works – New Voices” is comprised of five new and unique pieces by some of the freshest voices in theatre. In addition to providing the pieces, the writers of each show worked directly with the cast and crew of each show, providing meaningful networking opportunities and insightful instruction to the students involved.
“In a time with so much uncertainty and anxiety, it’s so reassuring to know that the faculty at WCSU care about making our semester valuable with performance opportunities,” said sophomore B.F.A. Musical Theatre major Bella Bosco. “I’m so thankful to have the chance to perform this semester, and to work with a new guest director. I know that this semester has brought new growth and learning, and has been so beneficial to my development as an artist. While our technical capabilities have been stretched in this virtual environment, I’m more aware and appreciative for how the department is ensuring that more marginalized voices are heard in this season.” Bosco is currently sharing her experience as a student in the WCSU Department of Theatre Arts through her blogs on BroadwayWorld.com titled “Life in the Key of B.”
Opening and closing the virtual production festival is “The Radium Girls: A Jaw-Dropping New Musical,” written by Amanda D’Archangelis, Sami Horneff and Lisa Mongillo. This production is directed by Tim Howard, with music directed by Dr. Justin P. Cowan. “The Radium Girls” is a female-driven, horror-laced dark comedy inspired by the stories and spirits of the incredible young women who worked the factory line at the U.S. Radium Corporation in the 1920s. It’s a thrilling, chilling tale of three best friends, Olive, Helen and Frances, who discover the evil lurking under the glittering surface of the radium craze and ultimately give the patriarchy a taste of its own poison. With queer themes and a roaring contemporary ’20s score, this piece is guaranteed to thrill and delight. “The Radium Girls: A Jaw-Dropping New Musical” will stream at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 6.
The next production featured as part of New Works – New Voices is “Dognap on Dekalb,” written by Benjamin Colón and directed by Sal Trapani. “Dognap” is a contemporary play set in the Bronx. The story follows Esther, a single mother grieving the loss of her son. Esther’s plan to spend the holidays alone with her dead son’s dog is ruined when the dog is stolen by Ariel, a down-on-his luck pizza delivery guy. Esther must track Ariel down before he gifts the dog to his estranged daughter. “Dognap on Dekalb” will stream at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 28, and at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2.
The Department of Theatre Arts welcomes Kimille Howard, one of New York City’s top emerging directors, as guest director of “In the Open,” written by Mona Mansour. At an elite high school for high achievers, an incident happens, an escalation of violence, something that never ever happens there. We see some of the lead up to it, as well as some of the fallout, and we see different entry points and accountings of the same incident, making us wonder if one truth matters more, or if the truth underneath it all — that such a thing could happen here — is possibly more disturbing than the incident itself. “In The Open” will stream at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 30, and at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 4.
“Be More Funny, and Other Shorts Plays,” written by Eric Lane and directed by Pam McDaniel, is a collection of award-winning short plays that spans from comedic to dramatic, and covers a wide range of stories and emotions. This production is sure to provoke laughter, tears, reflection and contemplation. “Be More Funny, and Other Short Plays” will stream at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 29, and 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3.
The final production of New Works – New Voices is a devised piece titled “Organizing in the Time of Covid-19 and Other Lessons Members of Generation Z Have Learned, Are Learning, Will Learn Before Everything is Said and Done ... Or, Also Too, Maybe Not?” This production is a collaboration between the cast and creative team, comprised of director Chris Bolan (Netflix’s “A Secret Love”), writer Keelay Gipson, and composer J. Oconer Navarro.
This play with music provided students a unique opportunity to create a brand new topical piece designed specifically for a virtual medium. Inspired by the theatrical processes made famous by the Joint Stock Theatre Company, this new work will bear the fruits of rigorous research, improvisation and discussion. Audiences can expect an experience entirely new and visceral. “Organizing in the Time of Covid-19 and Other Lessons” will stream at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 1, and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5.
New Works – New Voices will stream from Friday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 6. Tickets for each performance are $5. There also is a Season Flex Pass available. For $20, pass-holders will have access to one performance of all five shows, for the cost of four. Tickets and season flex passes are available at wcsuvpac.eventbrite.com.
Cast of “The Radium Girls: A Jaw-Dropping Musical”
Nate Bloom, of West Haven
Michelle D’Amico, of Dallas, Texas
Bella D’Ottavio, of Haddam
Logan Farley, of Belvidere, New Jersey
Katie Geniuch, of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Tony Harkin, of New Milford
Olivia Hendrickson, of Callicoon, New York
Serena Kelly, of Auburn, Massachusetts
Chloe Kramer, of Poughkeepsie, New York
Kelsey Lepesko, of Stratford
Ariana Locascio, of Southington
Dean Martin, of Manchester
Alyssa McDonald, of Nyack, New York
Grace McGovern, of North Haven
Ryan Rappaport, of Orange
Alexis Reda, of Trumbull
Teah Renzi, of Newtown
Michael Ricciardone, of Southington
Julia Rocchio, of Naugatuck
Sam Rogers, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Francesca Saccomagno, of Staten Island, New York
Michelle Shapiro, of Wantagh, New York
Carter Smith, of Ledyard
Oksana Veres, of Newington
Cast of “Dognap on Dekalb”
Berny Balbuena, of Newburgh, New York
Sara Bhatt, of Monroe
Zachary Brown, of Griswold
Chrystal Campbell, of Weston
Crystal Hilton, of Brooklyn, New York
Darius Mullens, of South Plainfeld, New Jersey
Samya Woodard, of Bronx, New York