Southwestern Theatre Professor, Students to Put on Performance in Bulgaria This Summer
A Southwestern University theatre professor and eight students will travel to Bulgaria this summer to participate in a unique theatre-training program called the Rhodopi International Theater Collective (R.I.T.C.). While there, the group will perform an original multimedia piece titled “Eggther” that they have been researching and studying for the past year.
R.I.T.C. is held in Smolyan, a town in the Rhodopi Mountains near Bulgaria’s border with Greece. The Rhodopi Mountains are considered to be the origin of Western theater, music and performance. The group will be there July 11-Aug. 11.
Students participating in the program include English major Delilah Dominguez and theatre majors Edward Coles, Emily Everidge, Evam Faram, Cassidy Fritz, Kinsey Keck, George Pena and Rebecca Plunkett. Accompanying them will be Sergio Costola, assistant professor of theatre, and Rick Roemer, chair of the Theatre Department.
R.I.T.C. was created to advance theater technique through international collaboration. It was started by Jared Stein, who spent last year as a visiting professor at Southwestern. The program attracts theater practitioners, scholars and students from around the world. Universities represented at the program this year in addition to Southwestern include California State University - Monterey, Carnegie Mellon University, Iowa State University, Northern Illinois University, UCLA, the University of Puget Sound, UT Austin, the University of Sofia, and the Dramatic Academy in Sofia. This is the third year that students from Southwestern have participated in the program.
This year, Costola was commissioned to produce a play for the program. “Our performance piece will be the result of adaptations of a variety of sources ranging from the medieval time up to the 18th century and focusing on the subversive activities of jesters, buffoons and servants,” he said. “These sources will include, but will not be limited to, medieval farces, excerpts from Italian commedia erudite and commedia dell’arte tradition, and from plays by Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, Calderon de la Barca, Gozzi and Goldoni.”
Dominguez, who recently helped with the dramaturgy for Southwestern’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof,” said she was enthusiastic about working on the production of “Eggther.” “After I read the proposal, I was intrigued by several of the ideas that the project deals with. I jumped into researching as many sources as I could,” she said.
Dominguez said she is excited about getting the opportunity to collaborate with professional artists and scholars of international reputation who are as passionate about their work as she is. “I plan on approaching everything in the collective with an open mind,” she said. “We’ve been told not to be afraid of trying new things or failing, so I’m going to take that to heart and really allow myself to try out and learn new approaches to theatre. I think collaborating with such a diverse group of people provides an opportunity to really open one’s eyes to different ways of seeing the world. It should be a very exciting experience.”
Dominguez hopes to pursue a career in playwriting and eventually dabble in screen writing.
“Eggther” will be directed by Jed Harris from Carnegie Mellon University, with choreography led by Alexandar Iliev from the National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts in Sofia, Bulgaria, and media done by Jeff Burke from by the Center for Research in Engineering, Media and Performance at UCLA.
Costola said that in addition to giving students the opportunity to collaborate with students and theatre professionals from around the world, the trip will give them the opportunity perform their work in a country which has been − and is about to become once again − one of the most important points of contact between Eastern and Western cultures.
Costola received several grants from Southwestern to fund the production of Eggther as well as the travel to Bulgaria. These included a $3,900 grant from the Fleming Collaborative Research and Creative Activity Program and a $9,100 Mundy Fellowship.
“Southwestern has been very generous in supporting our efforts, and I thank them whole-heartedly for this opportunity,” Dominguez said.
Roemer received a Cullen grant to fund his travel to Bulgaria. He will be working with professional Bulgarian actors on a Christopher Durang production titled “For Whom The Southern Belle Tolls,” as well as working with the students on “Eggther.”
Stein, who will be at Southwestern again this year, is directing a major production called “The Virgin and the Unicorn: A canvas for street carnival in 7 episodes, a prologue, and an epilogue,” which is based partly on a Bulgarian myth. Costolo is serving as dramaturg on that project.