Resident ensemble players
Published: Monday, September 30, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 30, 2013 21:09
One of my first exposures to the arts at the university was a theater course I took during the fall of my freshman year. I switched majors two weeks into the semester and changed all of my classes. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up for THEA 241, Western Theatre: Live on Stage. I soon learned that this class is a large survey course of the history of theater from the ancient Greeks to the late 20th century. I didn’t have a required textbook, but, to my happy surprise, I was required to see multiple plays by the Resident Ensemble Players.
Before taking the class I had no idea the university had its own theater company on campus. The REP makes professional theater accessible, especially for students. According to the REP, the company consists of some of the most respected and experienced actors in the country. In addition, it features actors from the Professional Theatre Training Program (when the program is running) and has incorporated undergraduate student actors into show casts. Discounted student tickets are available (for about $12), and the main venue the group occupies this season, the Thompson Theatre in the Roselle Center for the Arts, is within walking distance from all residence halls.
Believe it or not, I actually lost my breath when I first visited the Thompson Theatre with my class. The Thompson is stunning. We’re not talking about your high school auditorium or local community theater—not that those venues and productions don’t have merit, because they do. I felt as though I had been transported from Delaware to Broadway during my walk across campus to class.
I’ve continued to see the REP’s productions for all four years of my college career. I’ve gone to satisfy class requirements, to see live theater with fellow thespians in Harrington Theatre Arts Company and to share the REP’s excellence with my friends.
I became so enthralled with the REP that I jumped on the chance to apply to work there when my friend mentioned a job opening in the box office. I’ve worked in the box office for more than a year now, and I love interacting with patrons who enthusiastically support the company. The passion for the arts the REP patrons possess is just as strong (if not stronger) as the passion the actors have for presenting, preserving and performing great works.
The REP is producing five plays this season, which spans the academic year. The first show is Tennessee Williams’ “The Night of the Iguana,” directed by Ed Stern. I’m familiar with Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Glass Menagerie,” but I’d never heard of “The Night of the Iguana” before this semester. The play takes place in a coastal jungle of 1940s Mexico, and it has a wide range of characters from a “defrocked priest with a tormented spirit,” a “lustful young girl” and a “penniless artist of heartbreaking dignity and courage” and “the world’s oldest living poet struggl[ing] to complete his final work,” according to the REP. The characters “join together in this engrossing story of dying dreams, frustrated sexuality, and lost-souls shaped and changed by the turgid, tropical heat that surrounds them.”
“The Night of the Iguana” officially opened on Saturday, and it runs for two more weeks, ending on Oct. 13.