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EU Theatre collaborates with directors, actors, designers, and playwrights at the Performing Arts Living Room

For its last event of the school year, EU Theatre will present The Performing Arts Living Room on May 1-2 at 8 p.m. and May 3 at 3 p.m.

For just five dollars, students can come to the McInnis auditorium to see a collection of ten-minute plays and monologues with “subjects ranging from marriage, family and friendship to adultery, grief and nightmares.”

Crew members describe the assortment of performances as a balanced mix of comedies and tragedies. “It’s a little bit of a roller coaster because you only have ten minutes with each cast, but at the end you’re left a little bit breathless,” said Rachel Lambert, senior playwright and lighting designer.

As an entirely student and alumni-initiated production, PALR is a dynamic shift for all parties involved. It puts everyone on equal footing. As Theater Director Mark Hallen put it, “There’s no god in the room.”

Like the New Play Workshop produced last December, PALR features brand-new works that showcase the talent of Eastern’s playwrights, a developing part of the collaborative process for EU Theatre.

“We’ve gotten good over the years at collaborating with actors, directors and now designers … We really haven’t gotten the ball rolling with playwrights, until last year,” Hallen said. “That kind of stirring is a big challenge.”

Nevertheless, the challenge of giving so many creative minds a say in how a piece turns out can be rewarding. “Part of the fun of theater is that other people get their hands in it,” senior Tara Quinn said. Quinn has her hands in several different aspects of the production: She is serving as a writer, actress and director, all on different pieces.

Lambert, who has already premiered two of her own plays produced at Eastern, agreed that collaboration is an important driving force behind theater.

“It’s always a little terrifying to hand your work over to somebody else, but part of the beauty of theater is that it’s not an isolated thing,” she said. “You have to be able to trust people to make your work come alive.”

Perhaps the strongest indicator of the EU Theatre’s success is that its protégés keep coming back for more. The 2008 New Play Workshop featured 11 alumni participants. This included Asia Prophet, who graduated in 2006 and is returning once again as the director for the three monologues premiering at PALR.

Prophet got her directorial debut in Dr. Munro’s drama writing class. “It was really tough, but I got through it and now I can do anything,” she said of the experience.

Another notable alumna is Liz Carlson, the theatre department’s director-in-residence. Carlson has worked on many Eastern productions over the past several years and developed all eight of the plays for PALR.

Hallen praised Carlson’s work at getting students involved in the creative process.

“What Liz has introduced us to, and helped us with, is relatively young directors, young actors and young writers all working together,” he said. “That’s why it’s been such a strong year.”

For more information, check out EU Theatre’s MySpace page at http://www.myspace.com/easternuniversitytheatre.

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