Art for Our Sake
This small town offers big culture.
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If you talk to Joann Browning about the arts in Newark, be prepared to set aside some time. There is a lot to talk about.
Browning is associate dean for the arts in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware. University programs are open to the public. Yet the city’s artistic offerings are not limited to campus. Newark itself has more arts organizations and events than many urban centers.
All the World is a Stage
At UD, Professional Theatre Training Program students are currently in the second year of the three-year program. (No new students come into the program during the three-year cycle.) Last year, the university incorporated the Resident Ensemble Players into the program. In their third year, the students will merge with the 10 resident, professional actors to form a larger troupe of about 20 performers.
The actors next year will benefit from the work of a visiting playwright. “The playwright will create an original play that will incorporate all 20 actors,” Browning says. “At a time when productions can only afford plays for a small cast, this is unusual and very exciting. We expect national attention.”
When the cycle repeats, the resident actors perform plays in the Thompson Theatre of the Roselle Center for the Arts. The graduate students perform separately in Hartshorn Theatre, until they merge once again.
Undergraduate student theater groups generally perform in Pearson Hall, which has been outfitted with lighting and sound. The groups include E-52, the Harrington Theatre Arts Company and the Khulamani Theater Troupe for African-American students.
Originally a university theater group, the Chapel Street Players is now the “official community theater for the city of Newark.” The all-volunteer group, which is celebrating its 75th season, features four main stage productions a year, along with a one-act showcase. Its annual FUNraiser is held each June, and for 47 years, Renee O’Leary has participated—in some shape or form. You might see just a hand, an arm or her whole presence on the stage. “We are a superstitious group,” says Scott Mason, president of the theater’s board. “The directors are terrified not to put her in.”
Apparently, their good luck charm is holding.
Page 2: Can't Stop the Music