Eight shows, two weeks, one festival

Gannon University’s Fringe Festival features eight performances in two weeks and helps students get to Scotland.

Posters are up all around campus advertising for the several different performances that will be taking place around Gannon as part of the Fringe Festival.

The festival will include several performances from Gannon students, alumni and Erie residents.

Jax Kubiak, design faculty and technical director for the Schuster Theatre, said this festival, which has happened every year for the past three years, started up when students went to the International Collegiate Theatre Festival – ICTF –  in Scotland.

When the students came back, they were excited because they had the opportunity to experience so much theatre in such a small amount of time.

“This sparked an energy in the department,” Kubiak said. “We wanted to immerse the university with various kinds of performing arts in two weeks.”

A group from Gannon’s Schuster Theatre went to the ICTF in Scotland in the summer of 2011. Kubiak said it was decided after that trip that students would go once every three years, taking whoever wants to go.

Kubiak said anyone who wants to go to the ICTF has to be involved with the production so they can not only experience the festival, but they can be a part of international theater.

It gives them the opportunity to say they went to and performed in a theater fest in Scotland when they were only 20 years old.

When the group went in 2011, Kubiak said it consisted of people who did everything from acting to technical aspects to public relations and some people who did a mix of all of them. She said everyone who goes and helps is important.

The Fringe Festival is one of the many fundraisers done by the theater to help cut the cost of anyone who wants to go to the festival in Scotland. All proceeds go to sending students to the festival.

Kubiak said some of the pieces in the Fringe Festival are usually ones that offer new and invigorating experiences for the students, but also ones that offer directing and acting opportunities.

The Fringe festival has a variety of performances lined up, from full-length classics to student-written shows to spoofs to music and dance performances.

Kubiak said after students apply to work on a show in the fall before the festival, she and the Rev. Shawn Clerkin look over the applications and base their decisions on whether to incorporate the show on cast size, feasibility, affordability and variety between the applicants.

There were a few applicants that Kubiak and Clerkin had to say no to, Kubiak said, as there can only be so many shows in two weeks.

In coordination with the Fringe Festival, Dramashop, Cathedral Preparatory School and a former Gannon University student will also be a part of the festival, Kubiak said.

Dramashop will be performing “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead,” which features some Gannon alumni, a faculty member and a student.

Kubiak said Cathedral Prep will be doing a performance of “Our Town,” which the school is producing on its own, but the Schuster Theatre will be providing publicity.

“The Glass Menagerie,” originally an Alex Clemente fundraiser, falls in the middle of the festival, Kubiak said. Traditionally the fundraiser show is a cast composed of Gannon alumni.

The show will be playing four different times, once for the fundraiser and three times for the festival.

Gannon alum Nick Kikola is directing “True West,” in which freshman occupational therapy major Mary Stephens is involved.

Stephens, as part of her second show at the Schuster Theatre, will be playing the mom in “True West.”

Stephens said she originally auditioned for the Fringe Festival because she got a text message from a friend who said more women needed to audition. She rolled out of bed, and when she was at auditions, Kikola asked her to do a cold reading for “True West” and she got the part.

Stephens only briefly heard of the ICTF in Scotland beforehand, but she said she would love to go if she got the opportunity.

Stephens said rehearsals are going really well and coming along really nicely. She said “True West” will particularly appeal to college men who can empathize with the brothers in the show.

Fringe is an interesting concept because there is so much variety in the shows, Stephens said. She’s particularly interested in seeing “Dancing with the Moon,” “Dog Sees God,” “The Under-a-minutemen Present: Literary Cannon Fodder” and “Glow Show.”

Stephens said she was involved in theatre for her first few years in high school, but she’s really glad she became involved with it at Gannon and she’ll definitely continue to audition for shows throughout her college career.

“I really like the theater department at Gannon because it feels as though my ideas are valued,” Stephens said. “In high school, you’re supposed to keep your ideas inside your head, but here the director asks how you feel about a character and it’s a lot more inviting.”

Kubiak said Gannon’s Fringe Festival is getting bigger and bigger as the years go on. There’s already a buzz in the air and people asking Kubiak about “theater week” at Gannon.

Gannon’s Fringe Festival will run from March 11-24. The eight shows that compose the festival include “Dancing with the Moon,” “The Under-a-minutemen Present: Literary Canon Fodder,” “The Glass Menagerie,” “Red,” “Glow Show,” “True West,” “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead” and “Our Town.” Check posters around campus for show times and locations.



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