World Premiere of ALISON SHIELDS by Joe Tracz
Festival Playhouse Fall Production ALISON SHIELDS Going to the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival at Michigan State University
-- Fundraising Performance To Be Held January 4, 2011--
-- Written by Kalamazoo College alum Joe Tracz --
December 13, 2010: Kalamazoo (Mich.) – Festival Playhouse of Kalamazoo College is proud to announce that it’s Fall production of Alison Shields has been selected to be performed at the prestigious Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region III) at Michigan State University on January 6, 2011. To help raise funds to take 34 students and 2 faculty members to the festival there will be a performance on Tuesday, January 4 at 7:30 in the Nelda K. Balch Playhouse on the campus of Kalamazoo College. The suggested donation is $10.00.
The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is a nationwide leading year-round theatre education program with a long and distinguished tradition of recognizing and rewarding the best in university and college theatre. There are eight different regional festivals across the nation. Region III comprises Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Alison Shields was one of over 50 productions considered for invitation to the Festival, and one of a handful that was selected. In addition it is also worth noting that, unlike athletic competitions, in ACTF, small schools compete head to head with larger programs, such as University of Michigan, Illinois, etc.
Who is this puzzling figure called Alison Shields? Inspired by strange-but-true events, Alison Shields is a mystery, a memory play, a high school romance, and a coming-of-age story about a young woman unable, or unwilling to grow up.
Playwright Joe Tracz (’04) has his BA in English from Kalamazoo College and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. His ACTF award-winning play Phenomenon of Decline was produced at K in 2006, and has since been seen in Chicago, California, and at Connecticut’s Long Wharf Theatre. This past year, his play Song for a Future Generation had its world premiere in Chicago and its New York premiere with The Management. TV credits include a teleplay for the upcoming FX boxing drama Lights Out and an independent sitcom pilot, Fang! Joe is currently developing his play Boy Wonders with director Jason Moore (Avenue Q) at NY’s Roundabout Theatre, and his play Death Comes for a Wedding will be published in this year’s “Best American Short Plays”. Joe is a former Playwrights Realm writing fellow and a member of the writer’s group at Ars Nova, where his short play Mario & Sonic At the Olympic Winter Games will be staged in January.
Alison Shields is Tracz’s first play, which he originally wrote for his Senior Project in 2003. Since then, he has revised it several times, and it has been produced as a staged reading at the first Student Playwriting Festival at Kalamazoo College in 2005 (where it received a citation from the New Playwrights Program of the American College Theatre Festival) and also at The New Theatre Collective in Chicago in 2006.
In addition to having his play fully produced for the first time, Tracz also visited rehearsals, working with the cast on fine-tuning several scenes.
Director Ed Menta describes working with his former student as “a distinct honor and a pleasure. Our students have benefited tremendously by having the playwright at their side as an active agent in the rehearsal process – a rarity in academic theatre.”
Technical Director, Jon Reeves described the production design as being “inspired by the text of the play and the images it provoked in my mind. The simple and universal look of the school locker and the emptiness of an unending highway; using these two items I was able to create a world for the director and actors to work that has a universal appeal and helps to tell the story.”