Theater program eager to raise curtain on new semester

By on February 9, 2005

It took more than four years to do, but Quinnipiac’s theater program is finally getting the recognition it deserves. For Associate Professor of Theater Crystal Brian, it is an accomplishment a long time in the making and she has nothing but high hopes for the future. This spring semester is certainly no exception and Brian is eager to invite the QU community to check out the talents her group of student actors possesses.

“The theater program has grown tremendously over the past four and a half years,” Brian said. “When I came here (to begin teaching), we had only one minor. Now we have between forty and fifty and several students have designed independent majors in theater performance and administration.”

One such student pursuing a theater minor is Kathy Grassi, a junior from Painted Post, N.Y. Grassi, active in theater during her high school years, has participated in the QU productions of “The Troubles of Romeo and Juliet” and “Playboy of the Western World.” It is the true-to-life messages that the performances convey that attracted Grassi to the theater program under Brian’s direction.

“”I was really excited to find that there was a (theater) program here, although it was small. I saw “Lydie Breeze” and was amazed at the (cast’s) talent. Once I finally had the opportunity to work with Dr. Brian and the rest of the cast in “Romeo and Juliet,” I was very much in awe at the passion and intensity of the work that goes on here,” Grassi said.

Intensity and passion fueled the group’s recent trip to Providence, R. I., where students Allison Clark, Shawn Grindle and Casey Manning competed at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Regional Festival. The QU contingent’s performance was one of 14 chosen to be staged at the Festival from a pool of more than 50 groups. Closer to home, Brian and her students are excited to continue their partnership this semester with the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, which shares their stage with QU twice annually, when scheduling allows.

Quinnipiac has taken the stage twice previously at the Long Wharf’s Stage II space and when the curtain closes, many students are afforded the opportunity to work behind the scenes at the theater for internships and part-time employment. The University furthers their affiliation with the Long Wharf by employing theater staff to teach QU classes in theater and performance fundamentals, among others. When theater students stage their productions here on campus, the Long Wharf’s technical director helps aid in the technical aspects of the show.

This semester, the QU theater program is excited to bring to life an original play surrounding the American Civil War. Structured around Stephen Crane’s “The Red Badge of Courage,” the performance will open at the Long Wharf in May. According to Brian, the University’s latest production will incorporate primary source documents from Civil War letters and photographs as well as material garnered from student journals kept for Brian’s class on peace, reconciliation and theater.

To further their research for the production, students will spend their spring break in Ireland to examine the workings of two reconciliation centers in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Additionally, the QU performers will present a workshop version of last spring’s “The Troubles of Romeo and Juliet.” During their stay, Associate Professor of Communications Rebecca Abbott will record footage to be included in their spring production.

Theater students like Grassi, who is herself currently studying abroad in Ireland, appreciate the efforts of Brian and QU staff to present performances that appeal to thespians and non-actors alike.

“The shows are both entertaining and well done (and) Dr. Brian really strives to present these performances as a catalyst for social change,” Grassi said. The “Troubles of Romeo and Juliet” was very much centered around the futility of violence and the timeless cycle of destruction that it creates. This is definitely an important message for anyone to listen to, especially when it ties in so well with our nation’s current events.”

To become involved in Quinnipiac’s theater program and experience these events for yourself, contact Dr. Crystal Brian at x8394 or for more information. Look for the group to host a reading of their popular “The Troubles” to raise funds for their spring break trip later this month.


About Allison Corneau