Grad Students Head to Provincetown, MA
The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, founded in 2006 by Dr. Jerry Scally, Alix Ritchie, Patrick Falco, and David Kaplan, is an annual four-day festival which presents performances of Tennessee Williams' plays from around the country and the world. Using the entire town as a stage, well-known masterpieces, little-known experimental works, and new works inspired by Williams, are creatively performed by contemporary artists. This is the second time that Texas Tech theatre graduate students have made the trip to Provincetown for the festival. Upon returning to Lubbock, TX the students reflected back on the experience. Read how the trip was, in many ways, a transformative experience:
Almost everything I thought I understood about Tennessee Williams was completely subverted. I have long been a fan of his best-known plays, in addition to having read his memoirs, the biographies and many of his short stories. I count The Glass Menagerie as one of my favorite plays. After the educational symposia with Thomas Keith, David Kaplan, David Savrin and Annette Saddick I realized how little I understood the genius behind the continual theatrical exploration in which Williams excelled. This knowledge enabled me to view the festival stage productions in a whole new light - in particular the work of Abrahamse & Meyer Productions, which stunned and profoundly moved me. The humor, the theatrical invention and the fine acting and directing revealed in their productions of two of his later, lesser-known plays were beyond inspiring - they have led me to reevaluate my personal relationship to acting and directing. The opportunity to immerse myself in learning, to absorb new ideas from masters during the day and then see those new ideas put into practice at night is a unique and invaluable experience. I cannot adequately express my appreciation to Dr. Charney, Dean Edwards and The TTU Department of Theatre & Dance for providing me the opportunity to learn and grow while surrounded by some of the most beautiful geography (and delicious seafood!) in the country. I never would have imagined my educational experience in this Department would be so rich and meaningful. I say without hyperbole that my experience at the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival changed my relationship to my art and career.
The annual Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown is an unparalleled opportunity to learn more about the playwright, meet some of the leading Williams scholars, and experience his plays first hand. I had a wonderful time and now have a totally different understanding of Williams and the stories he shared because of this exposure to his life and later works. The best performances of the festival came all the way from South Africa: Kingdom of Earth was a wonderful production to experience and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore was my favorite, both in the performances given and the design of the show. I would highly recommend this trip to any student of theatre.
I am fortunate and grateful to have been able to attend the Tennessee Williams Theatre Festival two consecutive years. Each experience has broadened my artistic aesthetic as a director and challenged my thinking as a student. I can think of no other educational experience that has been so impacting and invaluable. What I have gain in a few short days will stay with me for a lifetime.
The Tennessee Williams Festival was a fantastic opportunity to interact with scholars, artists, and fellow theatre practitioners. The scholarly discussion, coupled with the ability to experience theatrical performances that were staged in a myriad of venues and performed in a variety of styles, allowed us to see the erudite discourse "play out" practically and viscerally. The educational advantage of interacting directly and earnestly with actors, directors, and designers, who were presenting their work, cannot be understated. Along with the informed conversation of festival presenters there was also occasion for analysis, dialogue, and sometimes lively debate amongst our departmental colleagues. I found that the assorted plays and discussions provided an invaluable source of dramatic and aesthetic inspiration for future projects. Overall, it was an immensely prodigious and illuminating experience and anyone who revels in the discipline of theatre and is granted an opportunity to attend, certainly should.
Going to Provincetown to see several of Tennessee Williams 'later works staged was fascinating. Seeing plays that are not the "standard fare" by this playwright causes one to wonder if the traditional view of his popular plays paint him in an inaccurate light. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to speak with scholars and experts on Tennessee Williams about the plays we read, the plays that were presented, and other research done prior to the festival. This "total learning experience" which brings research, theory, and practice/performance together was exciting.
The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival was a wonderful experience for both the performance and scholarly aspects of my studies here at Texas Tech University. The institution portion of the festival, which the Theatre Department here at TTU spearheaded last year, allowed us to have small group lectures with three of the top Tennessee Williams specialist in the nation, discuss our personal research topics one-on-one with these specialist and make both personal and academic connections that will prove to be invaluable, both at our time at TTU and beyond. Being able to discuss theories and concepts surrounding Williams' work in the morning and then just hours later watching wonderful productions (eight total, including two outstanding and groundbreaking productions from a South African theatre company) was the most thrilling way to learn. I thank both the Theatre and Dance Department here at Texas Tech University, along with the university as a whole for their support in making this trip possible!
The Tennessee Williams and Women Festival in Provincetown, was an eye opening experience for myself not only as an artist, but as an individual. Each lecturer and performance was educational to me as an artist by exploring Williams' work and life. The festival not only honored Williams' past, but is continuing to inspire his future significance as a playwright by introducing many of his unknown works and new ways of bringing his plays from the page to the stage. What I found moving as an individual was that the festival brings together people from all walks of life, but what ties us all together in Provincetown is the spirit of Williams' words and life. From Texas to South Africa his work has inspired and cultivated new creative work. Though the festival was only a week long, it will forever remain with me as I continue my studies and life in the theatre. I am grateful to Dr. Mark Charney and the Texas Tech Theatre Department for this educational and cultural inspiring trip.
The past week was filled with excitement and adventure! Thrills, chills, and daring escapes that none would imagine possible. Stay tuned for... ...or I just went to Provincetown, Massachusetts (think Cape Cod, affectionately known as "P-Town") for the Tennessee Williams Festival with several of my classmates and professors. It was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot, and I am very glad that I went. We saw eight shows. Some were phenomenal! Others...I could have really gone the whole rest of my life and been just fine having never seen those particular productions - but perhaps I learned something from them too. It was all part of the experience. I really learned to appreciate, once again how important it is to SEE a play, as opposed to reading, or reading ABOUT a play. Learning from the scholars who presented at our three hour seminars and then watching the things they talked about take place on the stage was really a highlight. I learned to appreciate Tennessee Williams for the person he presented himself to be, not necessarily as the person others attempted to frame him as.
To say that the Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown Massachusetts was eye opening would be a vast understatement. As a MFA candidate with a focus in directing, this conference not only helped me gain insight and inspiration from a vast array of William's work it also clarified what I have been trying to define as my particular mode of directing as a whole. Seeing William's work approached through a lens of "expressionist" both in discussions and in the two productions by the Abrahamse-Meyer company. While I could have said before that they share many conventions and elements that I see in my work as a director, I could not have told you what that was. I now can confidently say that the theater I thrive on creating is non-realism performed with absolute truth. I could also show particular instances, like the transformation of Lot into the angel of death in "Kingdom of Earth" personifies this style. I do not think that in the fifteen plus years I have worked in theater, that one week has ever been so inspiring and reaffirming as this one was. I am truly a better theater artist for it.
--Clay B. Martin
Energizing. Inspiring. Educational. These three words describe the time I spent learning, observing, and experiencing theatre scholarship and performance at the 2013 Tennessee Williams Festival in Provincetown. It was a unique experience of experiential learning, moving education and inspiration from outside the classroom to a living community of scholars and artists. I particularly enjoyed meeting and watching the troupe of South African performers in their visually-stimulating and creative interpretations of Williams' Kingdom of Earth and The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Their performances were excellent models of cultural diversity and interpretation with these more expressionistic, non-realistic and lesser-known plays of Williams. The trip has inspired me to pursue venues of scholarship and performance with Williams' works.
If you would like to see more about the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Festival, Click Here!
US dance troupe for Coco's 5th annual dance showcase
The contemporary choreographer's collective, better known as Coco, will host the Texas Tech's University Dance Company under the direction of Genevieve Durham DeCesaro, head of the Dance programme, and Nicole Wesley, Associate Professor at Texas Tech.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for artistic exchange," said Durham DeCesaro in a release from Coco. "The dancers are excited and the choreographers, Nicole Wesley and Ali Duffy are equally excited about seeing their work on the T&T stage."
Wesley, a former Associate Professor of Dance at the UTT, is no stranger to the local dance scene. "It's a little bit like coming home, since I had been so involved with the dance community here over several years."
Wesley and DeCesaro will also conduct master classes during the course of the festival.
The technical side of things will also be highlighted as Texas Tech master lighting designer Matt Schlief will accompany the group and will also conduct master classes in lighting design.
Coco Dance Festival was founded by Sonja Dumas, Dave Williams, Nancy Herrera and Nicole Wesley in 2009 and serves as the premier festival for contemporary dance in the country.
The festival has hosted guests from Jamaica, Canada and the United States in the past. The aim of the festival is to provide talented local choreographers with a platform for experimental and cutting edge choreography as well as for artistic exchange with groups from elsewhere.
--from The Trinidad Guardian Newspaper, October 8, 2013