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STI promises classic tales, laughs and lots of moves

May 11, 2015

Classic tales, stage combat, comic relief and big musical numbers are all in store for Stephens Summer Theatre audiences this year.

Perhaps the highlight of the season will be the return of Jessica Burr and Matt Opatmy—co-founders of the revolutionary theatre company Blessed Unrest in New York. They’ll be on campus overseeing an original, devised theatre piece.

Summer Theatre Institute produces five public performances while teaching student actors basic stage techniques, said Lamby Hedge, who oversees the program. All performances are free and open to the public at the Warehouse Theatre, 104 Willis Ave., except “Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!,” which will be held in the Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave.

The season kicks off with “More From Story Theatre,” a family-friendly retelling of folk literature from around the globe. Expect imaginative storytelling techniques such as improvisation, pantomime, dance and over-the-top physical theatre.

  • “More From Story Theatre” starts 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 22. It is directed by Carol Estey.

Guest artist John Wilson is also returning to STI this year to direct a wildly entertaining evening of theatre featuring the art of stage combat.

“Stage fights are really important, more and more so among female performers,” Hedge said, citing several productions this past school year that involved stage fights. “This year, he will put emphasis on martial arts.”

  • “Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting” is 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 29.

That work will culminate for the “Blessed Unrest Project,” which will challenge participants to explore and experience new forms of storytelling.

“This is a whole new way to do theatre,” Hedge said. “Devised theatre is a new branch of performing arts. It’s strenuous, physically challenging—a movement-based acting system.”

  • “The Blessed Unrest Project” starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 5.

The following week, students will do their best comedy acts, adapting the best lines, jokes and snippets from America’s funniest ladies. Celebrate the likes of Mae West, Dorothy Parker, Irma Bombeck, Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres and more.

“It’s smarter stuff—sophisticated—but still accessible to youth,” Hedge said.

  • “Adaptation: The Funny Ladies” will be 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 12.

STI will end, as usual, with a musical revue directed by Stephens music faculty Trent Rash and Cheryl Nichols. Expect some of the greatest music from the Broadway repertoire and wonderful dances choreographed by guest artist Millie Garvey.

  • “Gotta Sing! Gotta Dance!” is 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 22.

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