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New Opportunities for PA students

Carole McFall
May 09, 2011

melia bensussen of emerson stage

Melia Bensussen, Chair of the Performing Arts Department 

“Working with ArtsEmerson during its inaugural season has been an enriching experience, bringing new opportunities to Performing Arts students, faculty, and staff,” remarked Melia Bensussen, Chair of the Performing Arts Department.

Over the past year, Bensussen and the Performing Arts faculty and staff worked closely with Executive Director of ArtsEmerson Rob Orchard to look for ways in which students and visiting artists could work together. For example, ArtsEmerson’s premiere production of Doug Elkins’ Fraulein Maria gave students a chance to perform alongside professionals, and first-year PA students had a chance to work directly with the show’s famed choreographer to create a “flash mob.”  Additionally, in the professional production of The Color of Rose, the role of Young Rose was played by Emerson PA student Therese Masse ’11, and there were several behind-the-scenes roles for students in that show as well as in other productions.

Visiting artists from ArtsEmerson productions also participated in classroom visits and open forums on campus. The Performing Arts community had opportunities to interact with Academy Award-winning actor F. Murray Abraham, who performed in The Merchant of Venice, and theater ensemble groups Elevator Repair Service and Tectonic Theater Project.

“We’re excited to work even more closely with ArtsEmerson next year,” said Bensussen. Starting in the fall, Anthony Lukas’ Common Ground, which explores the 1970s busing crisis in Boston, will be the basis for a theater piece created within the Performing Arts course. PA students will work alongside The Civilians, who return to Boston to perform in ArtsEmerson’s 2011–2012 season using the theater company’s unique investigative techniques to explore topics, such as the busing crisis, and produce an engaging theater experience.

Bensussen, who just announced Emerson Stage’s upcoming season, said she’s especially looking forward to the New England premiere of plays from Adam Rapp’s Hallway Trilogy in October, which Emerson Stage will produce, and the spring musical, which will be a co-production with ArtsEmerson. Titled Café Variations, the spring musical will be a world premiere directed by acclaimed theatre icon Anne Bogart. Fifteen to eighteen students will perform and many will play a role in the show’s design, music direction, stage management, crew, and other production aspects. Playwright Charles Mee will write the script for the new musical, and members of the world-renowned SITI Company will join the production as additional cast members.

SITI company performing la dispute

SITI Company performance of La Dispute. SITI and Emerson Stage will collaborate on the 2012 spring musical, the world premiere of Café Variations. Photo courtesy of A.R.T.

“With these two shifts to the Emerson Stage season, performing arts at Emerson will reach new heights. I’m thrilled to offer our students access to these world-class professional artists, and these kinds of unparalleled opportunities that will enhance their experience and the quality of their work,” said Bensussen.
 

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