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New Play Workshop Program showcases work of SU alumni
New Play Workshop Program showcases work of SU alumniFebruary 03, 2009SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Now in its third year, the New Play Workshop Program in the Department of Drama at Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) will present a public workshop performance of “Falling to Earth,” a new musical by alumni Tom Gualtieri ’90 (B.F.A. in musical theater) and David Sisco ’97 (B.A. in vocal performance).
“Falling to Earth” will run Feb. 6-15 at 936 E. Genesee St. Performances are free and open to the public, and seating can be reserved by contacting Marie Kemp, assistant professor in the Department of Drama, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s workshop has been made possible through the financial support of Broadway’s Araca Group, founded by drama alumni Hank Unger ’90 (B.F.A. in drama) and Michael Rego ’90 (B.F.A. in musical theater). Writers Gualtieri and Sisco spearheaded the grassroots campaign for funding, which includes additional support from various drama alumni and friends of the writers.
Kemp began the New Play Workshop Program three years ago, fulfilling a need to contribute to the future of theater while giving students a unique educational opportunity. “Playwrights need safe places to develop their work, and our students need the experience of creating a role from the ground up from which they have no footprint,” says Kemp. “To me, it is obvious that our schools and universities are the places to nurture this work. We are reaching out to the theater community and shaping its future. Professional writers, composers and directors are hearing about SU Drama in a new way.”
This year marks the first time that the writers will be in residence throughout the entire workshop process. Rehearsals began Jan. 13, and there has been significant writing and rewriting in preparation for the public workshop performances.
Gualtieri believes workshops are essential to the writing process. “It would be a rare genius who brought a piece to the stage without rewrites,” he notes. “The benefit of the SU program is that we get away from the stresses of New York City and can focus almost exclusively on the work itself, with the added bonus of having a wonderful cast from the University who are enthusiastic, talented and playful. For me that’s very exciting-to share this experience and mentor the students through the process.”
“Falling to Earth” is a serio-comic retelling of the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea, set in ancient Cyprus, but filtered through a skewed, contemporary lens. The artist Pygmalion finds himself unable to finish a statue of Venus in time for the annual feast day. Frustrated by interference from both his lusty friend and a mysterious serving girl, Pygmalion turns his attention toward the statue and soon discovers that his creation has a life and story of her own. The appearance of a beautiful but neurotic goddess further complicates matters when she brings the statue to life. Soon all the characters, including the artists’ creation, are forced to look deeper into themselves and let go of their once-secure notions of life, love and self.