Third annual Theater Capstone Festival features 12 theater majors performing in seven capstone works, late April and early May

The Department of Theater presents its third annual Theater Capstone Festival, featuring twelve senior theater majors performing in an unprecedented seven works, including three original plays, “an interactive experience” and “a self-revelatory performance.” All will take place in Tansill Theater or an intimate theater studio in Palmer Auditorium in late April and early May, and are free and open to the public. The dates, times and locations of the presentations are listed below.

“This year, twelve students undertook projects that took risks and deepened their work as actors, designers, directors, scholars, and writers. They have collaborated with faculty mentors, and more importantly, their peers,” said David Jaffe, professor of theater and department chair.

The Theater Capstone Festival represents a collective opportunity for senior theater majors to finish their college careers with a major creative and/or scholarly project. Seniors are invited to propose projects that represent a culmination of their explorations both in the department at Connecticut College and their experiences beyond the campus. They may either work with a faculty mentor on a one-semester capstone project or a two-semester honors study in writing, performing, directing or design. The sheer number of interested students this year allowed the department to offer, for the first time, a Senior Capstone Seminar under the guidance of Ken Prestininzi, associate professor of theater.

“At our first festival three years ago, these twelve theater majors, then sophomores, first saw the opportunity to do a senior capstone project,” said Jaffe, who states that the large number of theater projects this year reflects the department’s growth in recent years and its encouragement of the senior capstone project.

For more information on the Festival, contact Donna Holman,, or call 860-439-2605.

The dates, times and locations of the presentations:

“That’s Crazy”
April 30, 1 p.m.
Display in Tansill Theater Lobby (The installation will be open to the public throughout the Festival)
Modern Theatre Representations of Mental Health and the Mental Health Industry
An interactive experience by Molly Shea ‘16

“What if you were given a card with a word that told everyone your mental state? What if that card said: Psychotic. Insane. Crazy. Mad. Normal. Or next to normal? This interactive experience will ask each participant to look at how words create an otherness when the fact is, what’s mad, crazy or abnormal is a universal human experience. How does the language we use to describe mental illness shape the way we conceptualize the experience of treating mental illness? What makes us think of the world in binaries of crazy and normal, mad and not mad, me and not me.

“Authentic depictions of mental illness on stage are relatively new to the theater repertoire, and even some of the so-called ‘best’ plays still seem to reflect our negative cultural perception around mental illness. This interactive experience takes the language of treatment in 4.48 Psychosis, Next to Normal, and Equus and puts you in their world. What does it feel like to be Diana or Alan? What does it feel like to be the Psycho-pharmacologist or Dr. Dysart? Does being in their position feel comfortable? Safe? Do their words make you want to seek treatment? Do they make you feel crazy?” - Molly Shea

April 28, 7:30 p.m., and April 30, 3 p.m.
The Phoenix
A new play by Charlotte Weber ‘16; capstone costume design by Summer Irving ‘16
Featuring capstone acting performance by Brittany Baltay ‘16
Directed by Mary McWilliams ‘17
Tansill Theater

“The Phoenix is a new play that explores the turbulence of human relationships at the end of the American Revolutionary War. It explores family dynamics, sexuality and personal identity. Throughout The Phoenix, the characters’ relationships continue to shift while the norms and expectations begin to deviate as well. It soon becomes clear that mundane and revolutionary appearances are not always what they seem to be, and a suppressed and evocative narrative lives just beneath the surface. An underlying love, lust and yearning charges towards the forefront of this unpredictable yet utterly human story, bending our stereotypical view of the Revolutionary War.” - Charlotte Weber

April 29, 7:30 p.m,. and May 1, 3 p.m.
A new play by Emma Weisberg ‘16; directed by Emily Ultan ‘17
Tansill Theater
"Strange, strange place this is..."
“un.spoke.n, a new play, explores sexual assault and trauma in a fantastical world never before visited, but it's always been here in our dreams and our wildest nightmares. The play’s story centers around the relationships of three sisters who are stuck in a garden with a war zone right outside the gates. The women are not allowed to say why they’re here in this garden—or where they've come from—but when one sister voices the ugly truth, the world turns.” - Emma Weisberg ‘16

April 30, and May 1, 5 p.m
Destructive Behaviors
A new play by Rachel Maddox ‘16. Directed by Hannah Boal ‘17
Palmer Auditorium 202

“The capstone process has been twofold. First, it is about my growth and my journey as a playwright. I started putting my mental conceptualizations of this play to paper last spring during my playwriting seminar, and it was through this process that I was able to think in a deeper way about the nuances and facets of the story that I wanted to tell. The themes of Destructive Behaviors have to do with the implications of being a student of color in predominantly white classrooms. What assumptions are made? What is expected of you or not expected of you? This new play explores how those expectations can be internalized while also informing a student’s opinion of themselves. Furthermore, this effect on self-esteem can result in a small personal violence, which could ultimately lead to an unspeakable act of external violence.” - Rachel Maddox

May 1, 2 p.m.
Everything the Light Touches Is . . . White
A capstone research project and talk by Leise Trueblood ‘16
Tansill Theater

What does the Lion King have to do with race? Leise Trueblood shares her investigation of the role of race in modern theatrical casting. Her talk examines racial representations in theater and why they matter to our nation’s cultural storybook. What does it mean when everything the light touches white? Or no longer only white?

May 1, 1 p.m.
It’s Okay Not to be Okay
A self-revelatory performance by Leah Shapiro ‘16
Tansill Theater

“This performance, ‘It’s Okay Not to be Okay,’ is a portion of the work I completed as part of my Honors Study titled, ‘Self-Revelatory Performance: The Intentional Use of Theatre’s Therapeutic Nature.’ Self-Revelatory Performance, considered both a form of drama therapy and a unique type of theatre, is defined as a form in which a performer creates an original piece of theatre based on existing life issues in need of therapeutic exploration (Emunah, 2015). Self-Revelatory Performance walks the line between therapy and theatre because it is an experience that offers transformation, understanding, transcendence, and often healing, while ultimately creating a captivating and moving performance worthy of being put before a witnessing audience. Theatre in its very nature is therapeutic as it raises awareness to emotions, attitudes, and issues (both personally and socially). The purpose of this Honors Study is to explore Self-Revelatory Performance as a form that explores the intentional use of theatre’s therapeutic nature. My exploration has taken place through traditional research but also through praxis-based research and experiential learning. For this reason, this Honors Study has both a written component and an original performance component, my own Self-Revelatory Performance, ‘It’s Okay Not to be Okay.’ ” - Leah Shapiro

May 5 and 6, 7:30 p.m.
Mud, by Maria Irene Fornes
A directing and acting capstone project by Mattie Barber-Bockelman ‘16, Teresa Cruz ‘16,
Spencer Lutvak ’16 and David Socolar ‘16
Tansill Theater

Mae lives in bleak poverty with her childhood playmate, pig-farmer Lloyd. She attempts schooling herself in reading and arithmetic, because she wants to believe there is more to life than struggling to survive. When Lloyd becomes ill, Mae brings Henry home with her to read a health clinic pamphlet’s difficult medical language. The ensuing love / hate triangle that brews between the three creates a toxic environment that is exasperated when Henry is rendered dependent by an accident. Mae realizes she must escape the men who depend upon her if she is to rise above common baseness and not die in the mud. Maria Irene Fornes has written an grotesque comedy and uncompromising tender drama in Mud; self-improvement is a quixotic far-off goal and the bleak nature of everyday selfishness is always ready to pounce.


April 25, 2016