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From the University Archives: Celebrate History of Villanova Theatre

By Beaudry Rae Allen

Dramatic Hall, circa 1890s

Dramatic Hall, circa 1890s

 

“…but be not afraid of greatness: Some are born great, others achieve greatness. And others have greatness thrust upon them.”—Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, Act 2 Scene 5

 

Distinctive Collections invites you with a backstage pass to celebrate 150 years of Villanova Theatre with the new digital exhibit “Be Not Afraid of Greatness: Celebrating the History of Villanova Theatre.”

Inspired by the prevalence of Shakespeare in the production history of the Theatre Department, the lines are meant to evoke the profound yet humble legacy of Villanova Theatre, from its earliest days to capturing the essence of what the department is all about: enriching the campus culture and striving for greatness one performance at a time.

Very few may know, but the first appearances of theatre on campus started in 1870, and with this exhibit the University Archives seeks to evoke a sense of celebration of Villanova’s rich history and achievements spanning 150 years.

Take a step inside and explore the many different eras of theatre groups on campus and moments that have helped shape what the graduate program is today.  The exhibit includes many programs and posters from early performances as well as photographs of students in rehearsals from the University Archives. In addition, the exhibit includes special photographs taken by Robert LeBlanc, First Year Experience Librarian, of theater students from fall 2019 and images of costumes on loan from the Villanova Theatre Department.

Rehearsals for Piper-Heidsieck '98, 1950

Rehearsals for Piper-Heidsieck ’98, 1950

Curated by Beaudry Rae Allen and Emma Poley ’21, Villanova Theatre Graduate Student, the digital exhibit is just a snapshot of the physical exhibit that opened March 12, 2020.

 

Poster of Turf and Tinsel Club production, circa 1940s

Poster of Turf and Tinsel Club production, circa 1940s

 

When the University reopens, the main physical exhibit will remain on display.

 


Beaudry Rae Allen is Preservation and Digital Archivist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 

 


 


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“Merrily We Roll Along:” a perfect end to the Vasey era

By Daniella Snyder

Note: All events at Villanova are canceled, including the performances of Merrily We Roll Along, the exhibition talk, and Little (Reference) Desk Concert.

Cat in the Stacks header/logoI’m Daniella Snyder, a graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics–from research to study habits and everything in between–and how the Falvey Library can play a large role in your success here on campus!
Villanova Theatre is proud to present Merrily We Roll Along, the last show of the 2019-2020 season, directed by Valerie Joyce, from March 17-29. This production will also serve as the last production in Vasey Theatre (home to Villanova Theatre for nearly 60 years) before moving to the brand-new Center for Performing Arts on the opposite side of Lancaster Avenue for the 2020-2021 Season.
Sondheim and Furth’s witty and wistful fable about friendship, compromise, and the price of success follows three idealistic artists whose lives pull them in unexpected directions. Featuring beloved songs like “Not a Day Goes By,” “Good Thing Going,” and “Our Time,” this groundbreaking musical starts at the end and ends at the beginning, following the aspirations, trials, and tribulations of this starry-eyed trio.
At the helm of this production is director Valerie Joyce, who also serves as Theatre Department Chairperson. As an alumna of Villanova’s MA in Theatre program, it is fitting that she serves as director of the final show in Vasey Theatre, having also worked as a performer and costume designer on its stage for many years.
Dr. Joyce holds Vasey Theatre dear to her heart, saying, “We thought for a long time about a fitting way to say goodbye to Vasey Theatre. Merrily fits the bill in many ways, as a challenging Sondheim score and a perfect vehicle for the actors in our program. But the story also resonates for those of us who went through the MA program and worked on this stage for over forty years. As we follow the three friends back in time to their starry-eyed youth with big dreams of the future, I am reminded of the people I’ve encountered in Vasey who have taught me, shaped our productions, and brought joy to so many audiences. I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring one more show to Vasey’s stage and for this story’s beautiful tribute to friendship and the art of making art.”
The three friends who dream, connect, and find themselves estranged over the years—Frank, Charley, and Mary—are played by second-year graduate students Jay V. Kimberley, Ethan Mitchell, and Angela Rose Longo, respectively. Additional graduate students rounding out the dynamic cast include Jerald Bennett as Joe, Cristy Chory as Gussie, Alexandra Mitchell as Beth, and Amy Abrigo, David Burgess, Harry Dietrich, Tina Lynch, Lora Margerum, Rachel McFatridge, Sharese Salters, Kirsten Sughrue and Kale Thompson in the heavily featured ensemble. The production will also feature nine-year-old Charlie Carroccio as Franklin Shepard, Jr.
Falvey Memorial Library has a long-standing relationship with Villanova Theatre. This coming Friday, the Library will be hosting cast members of the musical for a brief concert at the Access Services Desk at 12:30 p.m., as they preview some of the exciting numbers from this new production.
Merrily We Roll Along runs at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall from March 17-29. Vasey Hall is located on Villanova’s main campus at the intersection of Lancaster and Ithan Avenues. Performances will be held Tuesdays-Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets run $21-$25, with discounts available for seniors, students, MA in Theatre alumni and groups. Tickets may be purchased at the Villanova Theatre Box Office (M-S, 12-5 pm) in person, by phone: 610-519-7474, or online at www.villanovatheatre.org.

Daniella Snyder HeadshotDaniella Snyder is a graduate student in the English department and a graduate assistant for Falvey Memorial Library. Snyder is excited to review her final theatre production, Merrily We Roll Along, one of many productions she’s written about during her time at Villanova.


 


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A Modern Midsummer

I’m Daniella Snyder, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics– from research to study habits and everything in between– and how the Falvey Library can play a large role in your success here on campus.

Villanova Theatre is proud to present A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Edward Sobel, on stage November 12-24.

Beware the forest outside Athens, where mischief reigns and faeries tease and torment. Shakespeare’s comedy of passion and power throws two mismatched couples into the fray of a lovers’ quarrel between the faerie king and queenand soon they’re all entangled in enchantments. Add to the mix the devious Puck and hapless troupe of amateur actors, and mayhem abounds. This magical tale, boldly reimagined for our time, reveals the dangers of unbridled desire and the healing potential of the imagination. 

Angela Rose Longo as Hermia and Sarah Stryker as Lysander. Photos by Kimberly Reilly.

Director Edward Sobel leads a cast of 16 Villanova graduate students, portraying the lovers, faeries, and novice actors drawn to the Athenian woods. Sobel’s contemporary staging zeroes in on issues of gender politics while showcasing the darker forces at play in Shakespeare’s well-loved comedy. According to Sobel, the Athens of this production is “a male-dominated world that thinks it’s a democracy – but it’s not.” This Athenian worldview impacts its characters both politically and romantically. “Love is a dangerous thing,” he adds, “and we want to reveal the way male characters manipulate passion in order to absorb rebellion and maintain their power.”

The production features female-identifying actors in various male roles while the most politically powerful male characters are played by male-identifying actors. Female-identifying actors will portray the young lovers Lysander and Demetrius and members of the relentless acting troupe The Rude Mechanicals. The cross gender casting allows actors to both hilariously embody and also critique gender stereotypes.

Angela Rose Longo as Hermia and Sarah Stryker as Lysander. Photos by Kimberly Reilly.

Dramaturg Travis Milliman has extensively researched gender roles in society, both in Elizabethan England and modern-day America, suggesting that the oppressive forces at play will resonate with our audiences in a way that will cause them to perk up and listen. Milliman’s research has also helped to illuminate the faerie world as it related to an Elizabethan audience. He says, “I want to prepare audiences for a Midsummer no one would have expected.”

An Elizabethan audience would have regarded the “Faerie World” as being a very real threat to sinners in their human society and believed that their wrongdoings could result in punishments or torture from vengeful faeries. While our understanding of “fairies” today has been infiltrated by the cute, Disney characters many of us know and love, this production plans to use the fearing subconscious to inspire the faerie world of Titania, Oberon, and Puck. Check out Milliman’s dramaturgical guide to learn more.

Angela Rose Longo as Hermia and Sarah Stryker as Lysander. Photos by Kimberly Reilly.

Costume designer and second-year graduate student Asaki Kuruma’s ambitious design conjures three distinct worlds: the regal Athenian court, ominous faeries, and lower-class actors. While audiences might not see wings on these faeries, they can expect to feel as though these haunting spirits are from a world mortals dare not enter. What’s more, she has created silhouettes that allow female bodied actors to inhabit male roles in a way that is realistic and affecting. Kuruma blends repurposed materials, classical silhouettes, and couture inspiration to wardrobe a large ensemble, each of whom play multiple roles.

Deepening the world of the play is set designer Stephanie Hansen. Hansen’s unified set marries the natural forest and classical architectural structures in order to suggest that these locations are far from separate and that the powers and mysteries of the woods are, in fact, an extension of the desires of the real world. Jerold Forsyth’s lighting design will illuminate the foliage of the woods and create the dark and starry skies required to evoke the shadowy nighttime. John Stovicek’s soundscape will emphasize the play’s bewitching themes, bringing encroaching winds and haunting lullabies into the mix of theatrical spectacle.

Sarah Stryker as Lysander. Photos by Kimberly Reilly.

For those of you who haven’t seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream before, you might want to check out a more traditional production of the play before you see Villanova Theatre’s modern re-imagining. Don’t worry, Falvey has you covered. We have two DVD versions of the play in our permanent collection, we have the 1994 issue of The Villanovan that reports a previous production of Midsummer, and you can stream at least 3 different productions of the play through our subscription to Digital Theatre +. We also have access to the BBC version of Midsummer with video and text transcripts. Finally, check out the Midsummer educational guide from Villanova Theatre.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on stage from November 12 to 24. Buy your tickets here.


Daniella Snyder HeadshotDaniella Snyder is so excited to see Villanova Theatre’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her favorite Shakespearean play is Othello. She also wants to thank Sarah Wingo, the Falvey Subject Librarian for English, Theatre, and Romance Languages, for her help and information about valuable Shakespearean resources.


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Celebrate Banned Books Week: See “Orlando”

I’m Daniella Snyder, a second-year graduate student at Villanova University, and your ‘Cat in Falvey Library’s Stacks. I’ll be posting about academics–from research to study habits and everything in between–and how the Falvey Library can play a large role in your success here on campus!

Villanova Theatre is proud to present Orlando directed by Whiting and Barrymore Award winner James Ijames Orlando runs until Oct 6.
Audiences will join the spirited, freethinking nobleman, Orlando on “an epic adventure that transcends time, place, and gender” (New York Times). After awakening from a seven-day slumber, Orlando finds himself transformed into a woman and must navigate society, artistry, and desire from an entirely new perspective. This fantastical, gender-bending, period-hopping parable explores what it means to live in our own skin and in our own time.

Sarah Ruhl’s fantastical adaptation transforms Woolf’s already captivating novel into an entertaining, poetic and ensemble-driven night at the theatre. Using Woolf’s 1928 novel as inspiration for a modern look at identity, gender and desire, Ruhl explores the multitude of possibilities contained within every human being. This timely, textured play examines the ways in which gender and identity have been rediscovered, challenged and transformed over the last decade. As Orlando experiences a complex range of emotions, experiences, obstacles, and discoveries, so too will audience members as they take in a tale that sends home the universality of the human experience.

The multi-talented cast includes Sarah Stryker as Orlando, Angela Longo as Sasha, and Tina Lynch, Kale Thompson, Amy Abrigo, Jay V. Kimberley, Sharese Salters, and Effie Kammer portraying dozens of additional characters throughout the course of the play. Orlando runs at Villanova Theatre in Vasey Hall from Sept. 24-Oct. 6. Buy your tickets here.

The opening of Villanova Theatre’s upcoming production corresponds with national Banned Books Week, a week dedicated to celebrating the freedom to read. Falvey Library has been highlighting librarians’ and staff members’ favorite banned books (check it out on our Instagram @villanovalibrary!).

While Orlando is not currently banned in any libraries or schools (that I know of), Virginia Woolf narrowly missed persecution for her novel in 1928. A few months prior to the publication of Orlando, Woolf testified in court in the interests of free speech and against censorship in favor of a book with similar themes as Orlando: The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall (Brain Pickings).
However, instead of ending up on the banned book list, Orlando became a best-seller.
Why? Some claim it was Woolf’s writing style that allowed her to avoid censorship, others argue that instead of reinforcing stereotypes, Orlando “exploded all the stereotypes” about gender and same-sex desire.

In preparation for opening night, be sure to loan out a copy of Orlando from Falvey. Not in the mood to read? You can rent the 2010 movie with Tilda Swinton.

Want to know more about Woolf? We have access to Virginia Woolf Miscellany, The Virginia Woolf Review, and The Woolf Studies Annual.

Finally, Sarah Wingo, liaison librarian for English Literature, Theatre, and Romance Languages and Literature, wants to remind you about the Orlando database located in Databases A-Z. It provides entries on authors’ lives and writing careers, contextual material, timelines, sets of internal links, and bibliographies. Interacting with these materials creates a dynamic inquiry from any number of perspectives into centuries of women’s writing.


Daniella Snyder Headshot

Daniella Snyder is a Graduate Assistant in the Communication and Marketing Department of Falvey Library.Her favorite Virginia Woolf book is To the Lighthouse.


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Villanova Now Has Access to the Full Drama Online Collection

Villanova now has access to the full Drama Online collection, and an access link can be found in Databases A-Z.  Once logged in, Drama Online includes full texts of plays from across the history of the theatre, ranging from Aeschylus to the present day. It also includes non-English-language works in translation, scholarly and critical editions, first night program texts, and critical analysis and contextual information. Critical interpretations, theatre history surveys and major reference works on authors, movements, practitioners, periods, and genres are included alongside performance and practitioner texts, acting, and backstage guides.

You can browse by plays, playwrights, genres, periods, context, and criticism, and by theatre craft. Advanced search options also allow you to search by type, playwrights, genre, period, theme, and setting.

Each play in the collection includes the either the full script or sound recording of the play and a production enquiry, which gives helpful information on who to contact to get performance rights for the play.

Many plays also include useful tools, like a Character Grid that can be used to see only the lines of a given character.

In addition to the Core Collection (www.dramaonlinelibrary.com) our subscription includes full access to the following individual collections housed within Drama Online.

All of the collections listed below can be accessed through Drama Online. They have been provided here with links to detailed descriptions of their contents if you wish to further explore:


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Last Modified: May 20, 2019