Dramashop performs play ‘Third’

Dramashop+performs+play+%27Third%27

In Dramashop’s upcoming production of “Third,” Gannon University’s theatre program shows its impact on the Erie community.

Paula Barrett, a theatre instructor at Gannon, plays Laurie Jameson, a professor at a small liberal arts college in New England.

Jessica Flock, an alumna of Gannon’s English master’s program, is also in the cast, playing Barrett’s daughter, Emily.

Beyond simply the cast, alumni and staff are participating behind the scenes. The director of Nash Library, Ken Brundage, is directing the show. Lacey Johnson, a Gannon alumna, is stage managing the production.

“Third,” written by Wendy Wasserstein, centers on a plagiarism dispute between Woodson Bull and Professor Jameson. The show takes place in the 2002-03 academic year and deals with themes of power, privilege and perception. Wasserstein, best known for “The Heidi Chronicles,” is sentimental for Barrett. “She speaks my language,” Barrett said.

Lauren Loop is a senior theatre and communication arts major and is currently enrolled in several of Barrett’s courses.

“I’m excited to see Paula as a performer instead of a director or teacher like I’m used to,” Loop said. “The stage is a much different setting than the classroom.”

When Woodson Bull submits an essay to Professor Jameson that she doesn’t think he has the capacity to write, she accuses him of plagiarism.

Yet, Professor Jameson has her own demons to grapple with, including a close friend, Professor Gordon, played by Tracy Hall – who is dying of cancer – and a father, played by Dan Pruyn – with Alzheimer’s.

“She [Wendy Wasserstein] wrote some really juicy stuff for women and it’s not all just complimentary and showing how fabulous we are,” said Barrett. “She allows for the weaknesses to show through and demonstrates that no matter what we believe, there is always room for reevaluation and renewal and hope.”

Barrett said that Wasserstein plays with the ideas of strength and vulnerability in the text, as Professor Jameson deals with this preppy student whom she “accuses of being a Republican.”

“She [Barrett] has been an educator and director to me since I began theater in grade school,” Loop said.

“I’ve worked with her on many shows, taken every class she has offered and was lucky to work beside her on ‘A Little Nonsense.’”

Barrett commented on the relationship between her position at Gannon and her character in the show.

“It’s kind of weird because I’m retiring at the end of the year, and I’m playing a professor who is taking a sabbatical at the end of the show.”

It’s atypical to see the past, present and future of the Gannon’s Schuster Theatre collaborating on a show, especially one focusing on the complexities of higher education.

Zach Flock, director of enroll ment communications and technology, leads Dramashop as artistic director and is also a graduate of Gannon University’s theatre and communication arts program. He says that it’s exciting to have so many Gannon people involved with this production.

“It’s where we learned the craft,” Flock said. “For me personally, it’s humbling to have Paula Barrett in the cast. I studied under Paula at Gannon, and so much of our ‘theatre in process’ approach comes from that Gannon education.

“Paula, along with Shawn Clerkin, instilled in me – and many of us – an enthusiasm for collaboration and hard work. That’s the kind of work we do at Dramashop.”

“Third” will run at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays March 13-14, 20-21, and 27-28. More information on the production can be found at www.dramashop.org.

 

MICHAEL HAAS

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