The University of Delaware’s professional acting troupe is going online and on the radio, starting on Friday with the first production of its 2020-21 theater season. All of it will be free.
“Theatremakers are, above all else, storytellers,” said Sandy Robbins, producing director for the Resident Ensemble Players. “Until we are able to safely come together to experience the transformational magic of live performance, we are committed to bring you that storytelling on different platforms.”
The REP joins the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Delaware Shakespeare in offering digital programming
The REP season opens meta, on Zoom with a comedy about performing on Zoom.
“Who’s in Charge” was written for the REP by Theresa Rebeck, who’s had several plays done at UD by the REP resident acting company.
Next is a five-part adaptation of “Dracula,” and “A Christmas Carol” closes this online half-season.
In between is a thought-provoking drama called “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been …”
The productions feature all eight members of the company, seven from their homes in Delaware and the eighth, Hassan El-Amin, from California, where he contracted coronavirus. He’s fine now.
To produce the shows, the REP had to get equipment to the performers’ home, work with a new union (the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and create soundscapes under the leadership of REP sound designer Eileen Smitheimer.
“In designing our offerings for 2020-21, we have diligently sought ways to provide you with gratifying entertainment and engagement, while making our organization more equitable, diverse and inclusive on stage and off, all inside our unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our community,” Robbins said.
The REP plans to announce the season’s spring half by the start of November.
Here’s the schedule:
“Who’s in Charge” is a fictionalized one-act, directed by Stephen Pelinski, about the eight REP members gathering “to plan what and how to perform during this topsy-turvy season of creativity and adaptation.” It will be available Friday through Sept. 27.
“Dracula,” a five-part radio drama written and directed by Michael Gotch from the Bram Stoker novel, will run at 7 p.m. every Friday in October on WVUD/91.3. It will be available later on the REP’s website via SoundCloud.
“Are You Now or Have You Ever Been …” focuses on Black poet Langston Hughes, who has been called before the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities “to answer questions about perceived Communist influences in his writing. “On the eve of his testimony, Hughes grapples with his own fears, beliefs, and demons as he attempts to put his thoughts to paper in a new poem.” It will stream on WVUD in November. The presentation is directed by El-Amin and will be available on the REP’s website Nov. 12-22. The Carlyle Brown play debuted in 2012.
“A Christmas Carol,” Dickens’ famous and frequently adapted story about the true meaning of Christmas, will stream on WVUD in December, dates and times to be announced. The presentation will also be available on the REP’s website Dec. 10-31. The Sara Valentine and Michael Boudewyns adaptation is directed by Kathleen Pirkl Tague.
The DSO season will feature three chamber music programs and six performances in its Classic Series. While the chamber programs, which features up to five musicians, will have already sold-out audiences in the DuPont Country Club’s Crystal Ballroom, the Classic performances will be done without an audience. They’ll be filmed by a camera crew on a Friday, edited and mastered and then released to subscribers on a Tuesday. Digital season subscriptions and single tickets are available for purchase on the symphony’s website.
DelShakes’ “Play On!” will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 2. Tickets start at $90, with ticket holders sent a link. The competition, styled after “The Voice,” will ask Delaware celebrities to perform scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and try to raise the most donations for Delaware Shakespeare.
- Tina and Rick Betz will compete as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, coached by Newton Buchanan, seen as Master Page in “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in 2019.
- Guillermina Gonzalez and Charles Sobrero will showcase their control of Spanish and English in a reading of Viola and Orsino from “Twelfth Night,” assisted by coach Liz Filios, who is writing Del Shakes’ bilingual musical adaptation of “Twelfth Night.”
- Sarah McBride will take on Shakespeare heroine Rosalind from “As You Like It,” coached by Danielle Leneé, who played Rosalind in 2017.
- Michelle Mitchell and Chuck Lewis will brawl as the inhospitable lovers Kate and Petruchio from “The Taming of the Shrew.” J Hernandez, Benedick in “Much Ado About Nothing,” will coach them.