WPI Theatre Makes a Triumphant Return to the Big Apple

Plays by Three Graduates Chosen as Semifinalists in a Major Playwriting Competition in June

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5609

WORCESTER, Mass. - For the third straight year, WPI will be represented in the semifinals of the Samuel French Off-Off-Broadway Original Short Play Festival in New York City, when two works by WPI artists are performed by all-WPI casts and crews in early June. And once again this year, a benefit preview performance has been scheduled to help fund the cost of the productions and the New York trip.

The Samuel French festival is an invitation-only competition featuring works from some of the nation's best theatre companies, professional schools, and universities. Typically, more than 300 plays are nominated, from which festival organizers choose 100 or so to be performed. Of those, 11 are selected by judges to be performed again on the last day of the festival. One of the finalists will win the right to be published by French, one of the world's largest theatrical publishers.

Catherine Darensbourg '02 will make her third trip to the festival in as many years with her play Public Policy, which will make its debut in New York on Thursday, June 8. Passing, accepted to the festival last year, and Dreams Abridged, performed in 2004, debuted during New Voices, WPI's annual new plays festival (Dreams Abridged was a shortened version of The Dreamery). The New Voices Festival was founded in 1982 by Susan Vick, professor of drama/theatre and director of theatre at WPI, who also been the driving force behind WPI's entries in the Samuel French Festival.

Public Policy will be directed by Jessica Sands '98, instructor and administrator of drama/theatre at WPI, and performed by Elliot Field '02, Sarah Pavis '06, and John Remby '07. The play's tagline is: "When candy is outlawed, only outlaws will have candy."

The other WPI entry this year is Treasures by Sarah Pavis '06 and Dan Gilbreath '06, both of whom received their bachelor's degrees at WPI's Commencement on May 20. The play, in which "two children and their imaginary friend battle Martians, wizards, and divorce," premiered in December 2005 at "A Show in 24 Hours," organized by Alpha Psi Omega, the drama honor society. It was performed for the WPI Board of Trustees in February 2006 as part of a student arts review.

Treasure's festival performance is set for Friday, June 2, directed by Sarah Pavis and acted by Thomas Collins '01, Michael Crouch '06, Dan Gilbreath, and Amanda Jean Nowack '06. Susan Vick will serve as dramaturg for both shows.

The plays (which are each 10 minutes long and family friendly) will be performed for the WPI community on Wednesday, May 31, at 8 p.m. in the Little Theatre. A reception will follow in Riley Commons. A donation of $20 is suggested; all of the proceeds will go towards subsidizing travel and housing costs for the cast and crew. For reservations, please call the Little Theatre line, 508-831-6407, or e-mail littletheatrereservationline@gmail.com.

Tickets are also on sale for the New York performances. The shows will be performed at the Chernuchin, American Theatre of Actors, 314 W. 54th Street in New York. Tickets ($15) may be reserved by calling 212-769-7973, ext. 3. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m.; the box office opens at 7. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

More information about WPI's return to the Samuel French festival...

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Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the first engineering and technology universities in the nation. WPI's 18 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to the BS, MS, ME, MBA and PhD. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, nanotechnology, and information security. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through our innovative Global Perspectives program. There are over 20 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.