by Grayson Lazarus
The packed schedule of early fall at Purchase College makes scheduling events a problem. The Conservatory of Theater Arts has decided to embrace it, however—even if it means asking its audiences to choose one play over another.
For the first time in Purchase’s history, the conservatory will premiere four small-scale shows (“Blacktop Sky,” “The Anitgone Project,” “The Aliens,” “The Maids”), beginning this Sunday, Oct. 1.
“It is the first annual Fall Festival,” said Rebecca Rugg, director of the Theatre Arts Conservatory. “I wanted to start to do some things from a contemporary repertoire.”
A festival format is in contrast to previous years, where only two, comparatively larger shows, would open in tandem. Audiences could easily see one, and then the other. Starting Oct. 1, the Durst Humanities Theatre in the Humanities Building will host the opening of “The Aiens” at 1:30 p.m. and “The Maids” at 7:30 p.m. “Blacktop Sky” and “The Antigone Project” will premiere at the same times at the Underground Theatre, respectively. From Oct. 3 to Oct. 6, one play from each venue will begin at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 7, audiences will be able to see all four in one day. (See show times, below.) This brings up the question: How will this structure affect audience turnout for each play?
“We are very production-heavy campus wide.” Peter Sprague, manager of the Humanities Theatre, conceded. “It’s a challenge. On this campus, if you look at a campus-wide calendar, you would have to decide to not see a dance concert or a music performance… That audience has to think more about it.”
Lucas Yudman, a Theater & Performance major who considers himself a more-than-casual attendee of on-campus productions, spoke on this new schedule format. “It’s a little weird, but it’s not that weird considering that’s how it works in the theater world,” he said. “It’s not out of the question.” Firmly falling into the definition of the audience of the festival, Lucas’ attitude toward the shift is both reassuring and considerate of the more realistic venue of more hectic arts environments outside of Purchase.
“I imagine that there will be some competition, but sometimes that’s a good thing,” says Seth Soloway, the interim director of the PAC. “Certainly when you do a festival, the hope is that people are going to get hooked and come back to see more or everything.”
Soloway, who himself has experience scheduling festivals outside of Purchase College, stresses the appeal of this new formatting choice.
Rugg concurred. “Considering that Purchase is so focused on the arts, its audience has been given the opportunity to view and experience even more theater in a convenient manner,” she added in reference to the easy access of on-campus theater.
“Think of a big music festival,” Rugg said. “You have several stages. You’ll have to pick. Unlike those festivals, where bands will probably not be coming back, we will definitely be presenting our shows again.”
The most amusing and optimistic view came from Professor Sprague. “That audience may say, ‘May all my problems be so big?’ ”
Hopefully, the Fall Festival will function as the embarrassment of riches that Sprague describes.
PURCHASE REPERTORY THEATRE FALL FESTIVAL
SUNDAY, OCT. 1, 1:30 P.M.
“The Aliens,” by Annie Baker; directed by Alex Correia. Durst Humanities Theatre, Humanities Building.
“Blacktop Sky,” by Christina Anderson; directed by Maggie Surovell. The Underground Theatre, PAC.
SUNDAY, OCT. 1, 7:30 P.M.
“The Maids,” by Jean Genet; translated by Benedict Andrews and Andrew Upton; directed by David Bassuk. Durst Humanities Theatre.
“The Antigone Project,” by Tanya Barfield, Karen Hartfield, Chiori Miyagawa, Lynn Nottage, and Cardidad Svich; directed by Bonnie Metzgar. The Underground Theatre.
TUESDAY, OCT. 3, 7:30 P.M.
“Blacktop Sky,” Underground. “The Aliens,” Humanities.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 4, 7:30 P.M.
“The Maids,” Humanities. “The Antigone Project,” Underground.
THURSDAY, OCT. 5, 7:30 P.M.
“Blacktop Sky,” Underground.
“The Aliens,” Humanities.
FRIDAY, OCT. 6, 7:30 P.M.
“The Maids,” Humanities.
“The Antigone Project,” Underground.
SATURDAY, OCT. 7 (See times below)
“The Maids,” noon, Humanities.
“The Antigone Project,” 2:30 p.m., Underground.
“The Aliens,” 6p.m., Humanities.
“Blacktop Sky,” 8p.m., Underground.