Visiting artists direct upcoming Saint Mary’s production
Observer Staff Report | Monday, November 6, 2017
Saint Mary’s department of communication studies, dance and theatre welcomed the 2017 Margaret Hill Guest Artists, Barbara Pitts McAdams and Meyung Kim, of New York City’s Tectonic Theater Project, according to a College press release. Pitts McAdams currently resides in Hayes Lodge in Moreau Center for the Arts and is directing the College’s fall production of “Once a Belle … ?” which will premiere Thursday.
The play aims to portray members of the Saint Mary’s community’s experiences relating to diversity and inclusion, the release states.
Over the past 10 months, Pitts McAdams and Kim have conducted workshops to explain the purpose of their proposed project and to recruit students, faculty and staff who could serve as “story gatherers” and interview their peers. Relayed experiences from over 50 students, faculty, staff and alumnae were compiled in the drafting of the production.
Associate professor of theatre Mark Abram-Copenhaver said “Once a Belle … ?” highlights prevalent tensions in modern society.
“I do not remember any time when our nation and world have been more challenged by our differing views about who we feel is ‘us’ and who we regard as ‘them,’” Abram-Copenhaver said. “Once a Belle ... ?” is an attempt to wrestle with this divisive question in our community at Saint Mary’s in a way that is compelling, creative and theatrically exciting.”
Pitts McAdams recruited a student cast comprised of both theatre students and less experienced participants, according to the release. Under her guidance and expertise, students wrote, choreographed, designed and applied their musical skills to adapt recounted instances of homophobia, racism, loneliness and exclusion into theatrical productions that can spark dialogue about such issues.
Pitts McAdams co-authored the forthcoming book “Moment Work,” which documents the the Tectonic Theatre Project’s process of creating some of its best-known plays, including “The Laramie Project.”
“Pitts McAdams appears in the HBO film of ‘The Laramie Project’ and shares an Emmy nomination for the screenplay,” the release said. “She has devised original plays on social issues with students nationwide.”
Meyung Kim’s primary interest involves creating poignant musical theater. She has worked on original experimental works with theater artists and companies in New York City, the release states.
The Margaret M. Hill Endowed Visiting Artist Series is an annual event. It is funded by a gift from Hill, a Saint Mary’s College alumna and a Broadway producer. Recent artists to visit the College as part of the series include Casey Whitaker from spring 2017, Anna Deavere Smith from spring 2016, The Second City from spring 2015 and Audra McDonald from spring 2013.
“Saint Mary’s is forever grateful to Peggy Hill for her gift to the College which allows us to, year after year, host artists who coach and instruct our students,” professor of theatre Katie Sullivan said. “The students receive advice about how to make their way in the professional theatre world. They also have the opportunity to ask the artists various questions about their technique, particular roles or scripts or shows, how to balance career and personal life and how to take the first steps after college.”