One Semester Away!

by B.E. Melendez
from the School of Theatre & Dance of The University of South Florida in Tampa, FL
Volume IX. Oct-Nov 2013

USF Theatre Professor Fanni Green measures the year in terms of semesters. That being the case, USF’s production of “the road weeps, the well is dry” is one semester away.

And that’s close for someone who is currently teaching three courses, directing two public readings, mentoring student projects, traveling, serving on college committees and preparing to begin rehearsals for this production on Feb. 25. So pressure is mounting.

After seeing two productions of the play, so far, Green is reviewing her notes and seeing how her original ideas are holding up.

“I learned a lot from them,” she said. “Seeing two explorations of the play and seeing that it remains magical – in two very different approaches – simply makes it more and more real to me. The ‘bigness’ of the play is the most real to me.  The sense of the elements of the play have become more alive – the lack of water in the well, the danger of the creek, the heat, the night sky – what are they like for the three factions of people, the freedmen, the Seminoles and the mixture of the two. All share their connection to nature and I’m spurred to explore these components.”

Auditions will be held and preliminary casting will take place as part of an upcoming Town Hall, Nov. 4 to 6, which will bring together representatives from the Lark Play Development staff, including Donna Walker Kuhne, who will meet with community storytellers, the consortium’s production dramaturge,  Nakissa Etemad, along with the production designers: Associate Professor of Design G.B. Stephens, (scenic and lighting); Marilyn Bertch (costumes); and Matt Cowley (sound).

Amanda Clark, the USF Theatre School’s marketing coordinator, who is working as the project’s consortium facilitator, observed, “We are almost there – I can feel it.  The excitement is building – we are going into our fall Town Hall, just about to cast the show, rehearsals will start and we will be back at Studio@620 with WMNF to read the play for the Radio Theatre Reading Project.  And then, before we even know it, the show and the Storytelling Festival and all of our partners from all of the theatres all over the country will be here.  I have missed them and I can’t wait to listen and share all that we have, as a collective, done to get to this exact spot.” At the Town Hall, there will be workshops and a full read-through of the play.

And learning about play development is something that makes the project so appealing to her university.

USF School of Theatre & Dance Director Marc Powers unexpectedly found out that what he already understood about the project was not exactly a well-kept secret. At the 2013 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Schools of Theatre, Artistic Director of ArtsEmerson David Dower presented a talk on “New Play Development: Unlocking the Rich Potential in the Academy.”

An enthusiastic endorsement by USF College of the Arts Associate Dean Barton Lee emphasizes the value this production brings to the university.  “It is an honor for the School of Theatre & Dance to be selected as the only university theatre program to participate in the LARK Play Development Center’s consortium with three professional theatre companies in the launching of Marcus Gardley’s ‘road weeps, the well runs dry’,” said Lee. “The opportunities for our students, faculty, and staff to study, research, and develop this new theatrical script; to have the opportunity to collaborate with the playwright; to meet the challenge of engaging on campus and off campus departments and organizations as community partners to promote dialogue around the play; To embrace Florida’s Historical presence in the play;  to have the unique privilege and opportunity to consult and collaborate with the consortium professional theatre partners adds so much more educational and experiential knowledge to the practice of bringing this play from a script into a live theatrical performance.”

At this point Green says she is “emboldened, humbled, intrigued and geared up to go.” Her mantra these days is, “The journey continues; we are on the road to the well.”

This entry was posted in Tampa, FL, Volume IX. Oct-Nov 2013. Bookmark the permalink.