August 26 – PITTSBURG, Kan. — Pitt State Theater kicks off its 2022-23 season this fall with a literary fairy tale musical and is holding auditions next week for “Once Upon a Mattress.”
The theater company, based at Pittsburg State University, is under the direction of the Department of Communication and is housed at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, located at 1711 S. Homer St. in Pittsburg.
Megan Westhoff, assistant professor and director of theater at PSU, said she is excited about this upcoming season as it contains a good mix of productions that will provide students with learning opportunities and the experience they need. after graduation.
“Students are going to go out and work in theater, and they’re not always going to do a specific type,” she said. “We want to give them a variety of experiences – technical and acting challenges. We try to balance that throughout the season.”
This year’s season kicks off with the musical ‘Once Upon a Mattress’, a comedic take on the fairy tale ‘The Princess and the Pea’. The play follows Winnifred the Woebegone, a shy and clumsy girl who wants to win the heart of Prince Dauntless, the son of Queen Aggravaine. But there is a problem. Queen Aggravaine sabotaged the efforts of every young princess who hoped to marry Dauntless.
The production will be directed by Megan Westhoff, with musical direction by Kimberly Arzoian and choreography by Elizabeth Hayes.
“We collaborate with our dance minor program, and one of the graduate students choreographs for us,” Westhoff said. “A choir teacher in middle school does the music for us. We enjoy collaborating with other people in the community, which makes it bigger and introduces more people to theater. Everyone has these different skills in which we can draw.”
The Pitt State Theater is holding auditions for “Once Upon a Mattress” at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the PSU Studio Theater, Room 108 at Grubbs Hall, 311 E. Cleveland Ave.
Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 27 through Saturday, October 29 and matinee performances at 2 p.m. Saturday, October 29 and Sunday, October 30 at the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater, located inside the Bicknell Center.
Students enrolled in the COMM 544 Stage Direction Class will conduct one-act plays, which will be their final public examination. Westhoff said this is the last class theater and communication education students need to teach acting, speaking, debate or forensics in K-12 settings.
“They choose a one-act play,” she said. “They read a lot and talk about director practices and communication skills, like how to get along with actors and how to collaborate with other directors. They hold auditions, run them, hold rehearsals, and their final exam is open to the public.”
The shows are free and will be different every night. Showtimes are at 7 p.m. Thursday, December 1 and Friday, December 2 at the PSU Studio Theater in Grubbs Hall. Members of the public may use the Joplin Street entrance.
Emilia Bassano was a pioneer 400 years ago, but her story is almost completely lost to history. She is considered the first woman to publish a collection of poetry, but most remember her for potentially being the “Dark Lady” in Shakespeare’s sonnets. In this contemporary piece on a historical period, she struggles to show her work and make her voice heard. The play is directed by Gil Cooper and Jenna Russell. It will also feature an all-female cast.
“It’s a take on what Shakespeare and Emilia’s life would have been like,” Westhoff said. “There’s music involved in that.”
Westhoff said it was a relatively new play and one of the first times it was performed in the United States.
“He’s looking at Shakespeare through a completely different lens because in Shakespeare’s time all characters were played by men, even female characters,” Westhoff said. “Women weren’t allowed on stage. Now it tells their lives and their stories from the perspective of these characters.”
Auditions must be announced. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 23, 2023 through Saturday, February 25 and 2 p.m. Saturday, February 25 and Sunday, February 26 at the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater.
This production is based on George Orwell’s 1945 novel “Animal Farm”. The animals on Mr. Jones’ farm have been overworked and abused, so Major the pig inspires the tired animals to get up and knock Jones down.
For a time the animals lived in a paradise of idealism, but the corrupt leadership of Napoleon the Pig threatened the very livelihood the animals worked for. The tale serves as a warning parable against totalitarianism. The production is directed by Linden Little.
“It’s really cool because they’re going through the French Revolution, and it’s all mimicked, so there’s a lot of physical performance that’s part of it,” Westhoff said. “It takes the story to a different level.”
Auditions must be announced. Showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, 2023 through Saturday, April 22 and at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23 at the Dotty and Bill Miller Theater.