Department of Performing Arts

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  Simmons Spring 1999 Residency

Eastern Connecticut State University is pleased to announce the Spring 1999 residency of guest director, James Simmons. James has just completed presenting ECSU's second annual series of Shakespeare Acting Workshops for students and is presently directing William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (which will take place in ECSU's Harry Hope Theatre April 15th-18th).

James trained at the National Youth Theatre and L.A.M.D.A. He spent three years with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford, in London and on tour, in the U.K. and in Australia. He toured Britain and the Far East playing Benedick in Alexandru. Darie's acclaimed production of Much Ado About Nothing; played the Narrator in Mr. A's Amazing Maze Plays by Alan Ayckbourn at the Royal National Theatre; has worked with Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Theatre Company playing Aguecheek in Twelfth Night; played Jack Absolute in The Rivals at Chichester; played Kipps in The Woman In Black at the Fortune Theatre; and just appeared in Joe Harmston's production of Beckett's Play at the Riverside Studios to name just a few of his extensive theatre acting credits.

Scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream
Directed by James Simmons Spring 1999

On T.V. his many appearances include The Professionals, Rumpole, Hannay, The Bill, Soldier Soldier, Chancer and as Jim in the B.B.C. sit-com Grown Ups. He can be seen playing vet Adam Hope in C.I.T.V.'s Animal Ark and in the TV drama The Alchemist. Films include The Whistleblower and Blue Ice with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh's Henry V in which he played the Duke of York. James has broadcast extensively and was a member of the BBC Radio Repertory Company. He was in War and Peace earlier this year playing Anatole Kuragin.

James is an assistant director of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and Artistic Director of Tour de Force of England which recently produced Vortigern at the Bridewell Theatre where he played the title role. James conducts theatre workshops at schools and unversities both in England and in the USA.

Director James Simmons states that "this production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is intended to be exciting and accessible to any audience. It's a high octane romp from beginning to end with a dynamic modern physical interpretation." Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream is being presented in ECSU's Harry Hope Theatre, a state-of-the-art blackbox theatre. The staging, sets, costumes, original score and lighting will thrill and enthrall an audience of all ages. Set Designer Bob Ritz has created "an urban constructivist forest" which will form the dangerous and challenging world in which the characters come alive.

Performances run Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8pm with a Sunday matinee at 2pm. Admission is $8 for Students and Senior Citizens; $10 for the General Public. In addition, there will be a Mid-day Matinee performance for schools on Friday, April 16th at noon.

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