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Theatre RC: The Last Four Years

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Written by Charissa Roberson

Over the past four years, Theatre RC has experienced important milestones and participated in some outstanding events. In 2017, Theatre RC hosted artist-in-residence Doug Berky, an expert in an early form of Italian comedic theatre known as Commedia dell’Arte. During his time at Roanoke College, Berky instructed the students in performing physical stunts and making elaborate masks for their production “The Trickeries of Scapin,” which drew upon many elements of Commedia dell’Arte. Then, in 2018, Roanoke said goodbye to one of their own as Dr. Partin directed his final show before retirement. Entitled “An Albee Evening,” the performance featured two plays by Edward Albee: “The American Dream” and “The Zoo Story.”

Not only has Theatre RC put on fantastic shows in recent years, including the classic “Our Town” and new hits like “Becky Shaw,” but they have also welcomed talented visitors. In March 2019, a quintet of British artists with Actors From The London Stage put on a magnificent performance of “King Lear.” Their highly entertaining interpretation featured a bare stage and few props; even the casting was minimalistic, with each actor playing multiple roles, often within the same scene. Later that same semester, Theatre RC had another exciting visitor—this time an entirely unexpected one…In April, a small ensemble of students put on a lively musical-comedy called “[title of show].” This “meta” production, a musical about creating a musical, was written by Hunter Bell, who also played himself in the original cast. Unbeknownst to the Theatre RC students, Bell heard about the production from a family member in Roanoke and flew all the way down from New York City to see the final show. After the curtain call, Bell came up on stage and gave the cast the surprise of their lives, including shaking hands with the stage-version of himself, played by Ryan Bennet.

2019 also saw the college’s first ever trip to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF). A small group of four students attended the festival, including Adeline Huggins and Sarah Jane Ruppert, two actresses nominated for the prestigious Irene Ryan acting scholarship. After a wonderful experience, the group tripled in size the next year, with 12 students representing Roanoke at the 2020 KCACTF. In addition to acting, dramaturgy, and stage management nominations for the students, RC professors have also received nominations for their skillful direction of Theatre RC’s many colorful shows.

These last four years have been filled with amazing accomplishments and experiences for the theatre students at Roanoke College. For those leaving us this year, we wish you all the best and thank you dearly for the many memories we will hold in our hearts.