Connecticut College Magazine · Spring 2005

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The world´s a stage for these seven alumni



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The world´s a stage for these seven alumni

The world´s a stage for these seven alumni
Eastcheap Rep is (from left) Chris Chaberski ´00, Peter Chenot ´00, Sally Jackson ´01, Philip Easley ´00, Luke Rosen ´02, Juliet (Guzzetta) Fara ´02 and Molly Kidder ´02.

Eastcheap Rep, New York, N.Y.

by Mary V. Howard


The seven young alumni who make up New York City’s Eastcheap Rep are artists who do not compromise. “We want to create theater on our own terms,” says Luke Rosen ’02, one of three founding members of the theater company.

In 2001 — at the suggestion of their mentor J Ranelli, visiting professor in CC’s theater department — Rosen, Chris Chaberski ’00 and Peter Chenot ’00 launched Eastcheap Rep (the name comes from a tavern in Shakespeare’s “Henry IV”). The goal of the company is to create theater for a new audience, “an audience of our peers,” says Chaberski.

The group — which now includes Philip Easley ’00, Juliet (Guzzetta) Fara ’02, Molly Kidder ’02 and Sally Jackson ’01 — writes, produces, directs and performs in their own material. “We are completely collaborative,” says Rosen. “We all have equal responsibility and the freedom to write whatever we want. We try to find one voice through seven different voices.” Eastcheap Rep has produced and written two plays, “Jumpers” and “Friction.”

Created by the company from newspaper articles, personal experiences and improvisation, “Jumpers,” a play about one family’s breakdown after September 11, premiered at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, the world’s largest theater festival, garnering excellent reviews from the U.K. press. The Scotsman wrote, “Gives you that shuddering sense that your mind is being shifted to an entirely new place.”

The play was the best-selling show at the 2003 Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City. Backstage called “Jumpers” the “most compelling original drama” of the season in its 2003 Theatrical Year in Review issue.

Though each of the company members hold day jobs — Jackson has the most interesting as personal assistant to celebrity chef Bobby Flay — they manage to meet several times each week for rehearsals and to develop new work. When they are in the middle of a show, their schedules are very intense. “I average about four hours of sleep during production,” says Easley.

Several times each year, the group retreats to the Dragon’s Egg, a rehearsal space in Ledyard, Conn., owned by Marya Ursin, a visiting instructor of yoga at the College, and her husband, Dan Potter. Ursin and Potter let Eastcheap Rep use their space at no charge. “Marya, Dan and J are amazingly supportive of us,” says Rosen. “They are there at all of our productions. They have mentored us every step of the way.” Ursin, Potter and Ranelli even flew to Scotland to see the company’s premiere of “Jumpers” at the Edinburgh festival.

At the Dragon’s Egg, the group refines and develops their work. Their second play “Friction,” a drama about troubled young adults in south Florida, was edited from 500 to 190 pages during a session at the Dragon’s Egg. Billed by the company as a Southern gothic drama, “Friction” premiered last September at the Pantheon Theater in New York City.

In February, the company produced, directed and acted in three one-act plays (by other authors) at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York City.

Eastcheap was recently back in Ledyard, brainstorming their third play. “We have three different ideas right now, and we’re going to see which one we can make less vague,” says Easley.

The company does all of their own business management — “sadly, none of us are business majors,” says Easley — and are very grateful for the support, both financial and otherwise, that they have received from the Connecticut College community. They have a loyal base of Camel fans who attend their performances. Ned deBary ’02, and Ian Knox ’02, with their Boston-based band Oneside, performed pro bono at a fundraiser for “Friction” last summer. And Eastcheap Rep makes it a point to hire young alumni to help with their productions.

In their fourth year, Eastcheap Rep hopes eventually to be a self-sustaining company with their own space in New York City. “We want Eastcheap to be our day jobs,” says Easley. Though they work hard, this close-knit group of friends have their priorities straight. “Ultimately at the end of the day, it doesn’t work unless we’re having fun,” says Chenot.

Eastcheap would love to hear from fellow alumni at info@eastcheap.com. For more information, and to read company member bios, visit www.eastcheap.com.


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