Department of Performing Arts

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  International Guest Artists at The Harry Hope Theatre

The Performing Arts Department Theatre program regularly invites professionals to work with students and staff at ECSU and in the field. The 2002-2003 academic year featured guest artists as directors, designers (lighting, costumes, props), acting coaches and teachers. The following two international guest artists were in residence during the fall and spring semesters and joined an impressive list of artists-in-residence of past years (i.e.James Simmons, Nora Cole, and Henry Darrow). Following is a summation of their achievements and contributions to the ECSU community-at-large.

The Harry Hope Theatre offered an extraordinary glimpse into the past with Australian Guest Artist Felix Nobis as Beowulf. Felix had been touring Europe and the United States with Beowulf as actor/translator/adaptor of the famous and fabulous Medieval epic poem. His show was coined "an energetic, passionate rendition of this tale.;" ".a truly spellbinding experience;" a ".beguiling performance.;" and ".a masterly performance. ." In fact, Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney wholeheartedly endorsed this translation and presentation of Beowulf and called it "enthralling to a contemporary audience." In fact, after seeing Felix's performance of Beowulf (the whole bloody story!), Mr. Heaney took Felix out for food and drink to compare their experiences working on this monumental text.

Ellen Brodie, Director of Theatre, had the opportunity to take students to Edinburgh to see this production of Beowulf when it premiered there two summers ago and took students to NYC to see it there when it ran off-Broadway in April 2002. Felix then came to ECSU for a week that spring to work with ECSU students (as an acting coach for Spoon River) and for a longer residency in Fall 2002 to work as acting coach for A Dream Play directed by David Pellegrini.

Born in Germany, raised in Australia, Felix was in residence in Ireland while he earned his Masters in Medieval Theatre and became a scholar of note. Felix is an excellent example of putting theory into practice, for as a scholar and actor he combines the critical analysis necessary to prepare the text for performance and then the doing of it. He had extensive training in Australia as an actor and playwright. In fact, he starred in film (i.e. with Nicole Kidman); has an extensive TV and Theatre resume and is an award-winning poet. His decision to pursue his graduate degree in Ireland and to focus on university teaching/performance along with his writing gave him a unique perspective and considerable talents to share with the ECSU community-at-large.

Mr. Nobis also presented a University Hour in the Betty Tipton Room of the Student Center as the perfect introduction to Beowulf as he shared the process of translation, adaptation and performance. It was an introduction to the evening performances which followed in the Harry Hope Theatre. Mr. Nobis is now back in Australia starring in the TV legal / medical drama called MDA. He has just been awarded a grant to return to Ireland this fall to write a new show which will span 3 generations of one family in Australia and Ireland. The piece is to look at immigration and the movement of stories and tales across continents and across generations. He hopes to visit ECSU sometime after shooting the TV series and before returning to Ireland to write his new "modern epic."

In Spring 2003 British actor/director Christopher Ettridge directed The Visit by Friedrich Durrenmatt in the Harry Hope Theatre. Mr. Ettridge has enjoyed a thirty year acting career in theatre, film and BBC television. He has performed in London's West End; at the Royal National Theatre; in Regents Park; and for the Royal Shakespeare Company to name but a few venues in his long, established career. He is well-known as Reg in the BBC's Goodnight Sweetheart and for the villainous Graeme in East Enders as well as for Samson Brass in Disney's The Old Curiosity Shop. He will soon be seen in TNT's Julius Caesar as Apollonius and was in the recent mini-series, Hitler with Peter O'Toole.

In addition, Mr. Ettridge co-taught Advanced Acting with Ellen Brodie and also presented a University Hour in the Betty Tipton room in which the cast of the show demonstrated rehearsal techniques that led to The Visit which ran in the Harry Hope Theatre in April. Mr. Ettridge is now back in England performing in Democracy at the Royal National Theatre. In summation, both Felix Nobis and Chris Ettridge brought an international perspective to Theatre which they shared with the ECSU community-at-large.

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