The journey through Theatre history continues at Eastern Connecticut State University's  Harry Hope Theatre (Shafer Hall, corner of High and Valley Streets in Willimantic). Audiences last semester witnessed the roots of Theatre in African storytelling (Flying Home )  and Greek drama (Alcestis). This spring, the trip through time takes us beyond the Classical era into the Medieval period as ECSU presents  Tony Harrison's The Mysteries: Part 1  directed by James Simmons, British guest artist-in-residence to run April 12-16, Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8pm and Sunday at 2pm.


     Written by the renowned British poet, The Mysteries  premiered at the National Theatre in London in 1985. Harrison collected, translated, adapted and revised original Medieval texts to create the trilogy of which Part I: The Nativity  will be presented at the Harry Hope. Harrison's work was so successful that the famous British director, Peter Hall, "rejoiced with reference to Harrison, 'we have a great poet back in the theatre'."

The play has been restaged over the years with its most recent incarnation this winter once again at the National Theatre in London.


     Audiences may remember James Simmons as the guest director of ECSU's  A Midsummer Night's Dream  which played at the Harry Hope and in NYC last spring.

Mr. Simmons returns this spring to lead workshops and guest lecture as well as direct. Bob Ritz, Technical Director and Scene Designer at ECSU, is creating a set which will allow the audiences to experience the text much in the same manner as the Medieval folk of yesteryear did. Be prepared to be on the move as the actors create the characters of the Bible (Old and New) and imaginatively set the many scenes before your eyes. Deb Warren returns as Costumer and Deb Siegel as Lighting Designer to the delight of all who saw last semester's Alcestis. Bob Ritz has designed props, puppets and set pieces which will playfully transform the characters and scenes in full view of the audience.


     In addition to the Millennium Milestones of Theatre series, ECSU will continue to present contemporary works in the Harry Hope Theatre. Professional actress/playwright Nora Cole returns to ECSU to perform Olivia's Opus  on March 1 at 3pm (a University Hour; Admission free) and at 8pm (Tickets: $8 for Students and Senior Citizens; $10 for the General Public). Audiences will remember Ms. Cole for her outstanding performances at the Hartford Stage (Love, Langston  and Olivia's Opus)  as well as on Broadway  (On the Town)  to name some recent shows . She has just completed a run in Strindberg's A Dream Play  at the Cleveland Playhouse. Directed by Imani, Olivia's Opus  is a multi-media piece which portrays the commonalities and peculiarities of black life in the mid-sixties seen through the eyes of an adolescent. "Olivia reflects on the excitement and trauma, the fun and the trials, and the history-making events of the time that weave in and around her life. Some touch her deeply, others barely brush her existence . . . and growing up is hard to do."  Olivia's Opus  has been appropriately timed to crossover the celebrations of Black History and Women's History months yet is truly universal. For reservations,  please call the Harry Hope Box Office at (860) 465-5123.