Kathy Pryor
University Theatre

‘Alums Come Home’ will bring theatre alumni, students together to network

Thu, 02/28/2013

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas Department of Theatre and University Theatre expect more than 120 alumni to return to campus Feb. 28-March 2 for the sixth edition of “Alums Come Home.” The turnout is the biggest so far in the series.

“Alums Come Home VI” will include productions of alumni works, workshops for students led by alumni with established careers, and receptions for alumni and students to connect.

Among the notable alumni attending:

  • Bill Russell, an award-winning playwright whose “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens” will be staged this weekend;
  • Terre Jones, an arts administrator who served as president of the foundation for Wolf Trap, America’s National Park for the Performing Arts;
  • Mary-Pat Green, an actress with credits on Broadway, film, television, and regional and touring performances.

Workshops will include sessions on auditions, voice over, improvisation and combat. There will also be a script reading of “Dracula” and a celebration of life service to remember alumni, faculty, staff and other members of the theatre family who have passed.

“Our alums are extraordinary at serving as mentors and role models,” said Kathy Pryor, managing director of University Theatre. “They take their time to teach our current students by conducting workshops and master classes. They share their gifts by being in our productions, and they get to know our students so they can help them when they get out of school. People get hired for jobs during the weekend or make connections that make a huge difference in their future.”

The featured productions for the weekend are award-winning works written by alumni Bill Russell and Jaimie Carswell. The public is invited to attend.

Russell will direct a production of his acclaimed poetry and song cycle, “Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens.” Developed in the late 1980s as a theatrical response to the AIDS crisis, this piece celebrates those whose lives were lost to the disease. “Elegies” performances are presented as a benefit for the Douglas County AIDS Project.

First produced in New York City in 1989 and now performed around the world, “Elegies” was inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’ “Spoon River Anthology” and the “Names Project,” the enormous collective AIDS quilt begun in 1987. This dramatic and musical piece, featuring music by Janet Hood, combines 30 free-verse monologues spoken by characters who have died from the disease with 10 blues, jazz and rock songs reflecting the point of view of the living. Students, alumni and community actors are cast in this moving and inspirational tribute

Carswell will present his “Cirque de Légume,” an award-winning physical theatre show. “Cirque de Légume” finds a hidden beauty in cast-off vegetables and shows us how beautiful life can be if we only stop to play with it. It is a love story between two clowns, their vegetables and us. The production and performance troupe were set up in Ireland in 2009 by Carswell, Pablo Ibarluzea and Nancy Trotter-Landry. All three also act as performers in the show. The production has toured to the Dublin Fringe Festival, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Montreal Completement Cirque Festival, as well as widespread touring in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Europe. This year, the troupe is the Theatre Artists in Residence at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

“Elegies” performances are at Crafton-Preyer Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, and Saturday, March 2, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 3. Reserved seat tickets are available at the University Theatre ticket office, (785) 864-3982 and online at Tickets are $18 for the public, $10 for all students, and $17 for senior citizens and KU faculty and staff.

“Cirque de Legume” performances are at the Lawrence Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 2. Tickets are available at the Lawrence Arts Center, (785) 843-2787, or online through the LAC website. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and students.

For a complete schedule of events and a list of alumni participating in "Alums Come Home VI," read more here.

The Department of Theatre is one of four departments in the School of the Arts. As part of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts offers fresh possibilities for collaboration between the arts and the humanities, sciences, social sciences, international and interdisciplinary studies.

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