Alumni, Students Unite to Create Lovecraftian Halloween Experience, ‘The Other Rhine’

Each year CCM graduates thousands of students who go on to work across the country in all facets of the arts. But it sure is nice when our stars return home to share their craft.

The Other Rhine, a haunting theatrical collaboration by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights! Theater Co., features the work of CCM alumni and even some current students as they unite to create an intriguing Halloween spectacle that is unique to the Queen City.

CCM students and alumni in co-production of 'The Other Rhine' by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights.

CCM students and alumni in co-production of ‘The Other Rhine’ by Know Theatre and Hit The Lights.

Part walking tour and part haunted house, The Other Rhine guides audience members through The Mockabee and the Reliance Metal building in Cincinnati’s Brewery District to create an immersive theater experience. The show opened Friday night and runs though Halloween. It begins with an invitation:

Join us for the Bring Bellevue Brewery and Beerhall Back tour! Our Executive Director Scott Kaufman will lead you on a journey back into Cincinnati history to learn about brewing and the intriguing story of those who made beer at the old brewery.

With your help, we can bring the Bellevue Brewery back to its former glory!

“Audiences should expect to have fun, be thrilled, uncover some dark secrets of Cincinnati history and have nightmares,” said Mikayla Stanley (BFA Drama, 2011), of The Other Rhine.

Stanley founded Hit the Lights with Casey Scott Leach (BFA Drama ’10) and Kristopher Dean (BFA Drama ‘12) in 2013. The group also includes Claron Hayden (BFA Drama, 2012) and Carli Rhoades (BFA Drama, 2015). Hit The Lights’ productions typically center around shadow puppetry and use darkness and light to tell stories.

“We were interested in building an artistic agreement using the tools we learned at CCM, specifically those learned in Transmigration, the CCM student-led theatre festival held each winter that began while we were in school,” Stanley said.

After Hit the Lights’ production, “dungeon,” won Audience Pick at Know Theatre’s Cincy Fringe Festival in 2015, the two groups began to develop The Other Rhine. “The Know Theatre has created such an engaging and welcoming community atmosphere with their Fringe that we soon became friends and colleagues,” Stanley said.

Know’s Artistic Director, Andrew Hungerford (MFA Lighting Design and Technology, 2005), approached Hit the Lights with the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired concept for The Other Rhine. Neither group has done a show quite like it before.

“It’s an immersive theatrical experience that will really blur the lines between the world of the show and reality,” said Michaela Tropeano, a senior CCM Acting student involved with the show. “No two experiences at The Other Rhine will be alike. The audience is truly a piece of the puzzle.”

Like Hit the Lights, Know Theatre has several CCM alumni in its ranks including Hungerford, Design & Production Associate Sarah Beth Hall (BFA Scenic Design, 2014), Managing Director Alice Flanders (BFA Stage Management 2012) and Technical Director Nick Koehlke (CCM, 2007-12).

 There are also seven current CCM students that are cast in The Other Rhine: Tropeano and her fellow Acting majors Sarah Durham, Ryan Garrett, Spencer Lackey, Julia Netzer and Josh Reiter, as well as Musical Theatre major Marissa Hecker.

“Working with CCM students is always amazing, particularly since we all went through the same training and have the same theatrical vocabulary,” Stanley said. “The students, mainly due to the training given to them by powerhouse instructor Richard Hess, have an incredible work ethic and are game to try anything. This is especially important in a project like this, given that it is so experimental.”

Tropeano felt the same kinship with the CCM alumni that Stanley experienced with the current students.

“Our similar training and kindred dispositions make it all come together very organically,” she said. “Working with Hit the Lights has been an invaluable opportunity to see how these four years of training fare outside of CCM, and witnessing the brilliance of Hit the Lights makes me excited to know that this is only the start.”

You can see these CCM students and alumni in The Other Rhine through Halloween. For performance and ticket information, visit Know Theatre’s website at http://knowtheatre.com/the-other-rhine/.

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Story by CCM graduate student Alexandra Doyle

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Know Theatre Co-production “Runaways” Opens CCM’s Studio Series

Students from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music are taking over the stage at the Know Theatre for a free public preview performance of Elizabeth Swados’ Runaways at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Runaways, created in the 1970s, is based on hundreds of interviews with teenagers who had run away from home, from predators or from themselves. It blends musical styles from pop to hip-hop, jazz to reggae, while asking why children can’t remain children.

CCM Musical Theatre students in "Runaways", co-produced by the Know Theatre.

CCM Musical Theatre students in “Runaways”, co-produced by the Know Theatre.

Co-produced by CCM and Know Theatre, Runaways is directed and choreographed by CCM Professor Vince DeGeorge with musical direction from first-year Masters of Music student, Luke Flood. The cast is made entirely of CCM Musical Theatre students and the stage management team is comprised of students from CCM’s Theatre Design and Production Department. It will run at the Know Theatre Wednesday, Sept.21-Sunday, Sept. 25.

The Know Theatre and CCM have worked to co-produce multiple productions that give students opportunities to perform on a professional stage and showcase their talents outside of the CCM campus community. This partnership began shortly after CCM alumnus Andrew Hungerford (MFA Lighting Design and Technology, 2005) became the Producing Artistic Director at the Know.

“I am continually amazed at how invested the students are in this very unique musical,” DeGeorge said of the Runaways cast. “Every rehearsal these young actors are challenging themselves to physically, psychologically and emotionally live through the songs and monologues of this show – telling stories that, for the most part, may be very far away from their own personal experiences.”

“The challenging and life-affirming work that is being done in this show is testament to the genius of Elizabeth Swados and the courage of the students that we have here at CCM.”

To prepare for their performances, students have received additional training from Maria Fernanda Del Real, a junior in CCM’s Acting Department who is working as the Spanish-language coach for the production. Additionally, Elizabeth Jean-Baptise, an assistant professor in field service at UC, has taught sign language to student Kyle Pollack, who plays a deaf character named Hubble in the musical.

“Learning the ins and outs of a deaf character has strengthened my understanding of the text, the use of my body in space, my relationships with others in the show, and the way I view, accept and understand others in daily life,” Pollack said. “Runaways has continued to challenge me as an actor and instill even more love for our craft with each day.”

Student Tyler Sodoma added: “Runaways was written almost 40 years ago and contains social issues and material that are still such a huge part of society today. The fact that this work of art still speaks to us young adults and audience members today proves how brilliant the writing is.  I am so excited to open this production and bring it to Cincinnati, especially in the heart of downtown, OTR.  The Know Theatre is the perfect venue for this intimate and extremely personal show.”

CCM's Studio Series opens with Elizabeth Swados' RUNAWAYS, co-produced with Know Theatre of Cincinnati.

CCM’s Studio Series opens with Elizabeth Swados’ RUNAWAYS, co-produced with Know Theatre of Cincinnati.

Runaways will run at the Know Theatre, located at 1120 Jackson St. in Over-the-Rhine, with performances at 8 p.m. on Sept. 21-24. The musical has additional performances at 3 p.m. on Sept. 24-25 and a final 7:30 p.m. show on Sept. 25. Tickets range from $15 to $25 and are available on Know Theatre’s website, https://knowtheatre.vbotickets.com/event/Runaways/15327.

Runaways Creative Team:
Vince DeGeorge, director
Luke Flood, music director*
k. Jenny Jones, fight director
Foster Johns, dialect coach
Maria Fernanda Del Real, Spanish-language coach*
Elizabeth Jean-Baptiste, ASL coach
Jenny Mollet, assistant director/choreographer*
Scott Slucher, production stage manager*
Courtney Hickenlooper, assistant stage manager*
Kate Pozner, production assistant*
Kat Miller, props master/coordinator
* CCM Student

Runaways Cast:
Delaney Guyer
Ciara Harris
Marissa Hecker
Kendall McCarthy
Emily Ashton Meredith
Jenny Mollet
Gabriela Rodrigues
Emily Royer
Shauna Topian
Amanda Valenzuela
Bryce Baxter
Dylan Dougal
Zach Erhardt
Louis Griffin
Tyler Jent
Jordan Miller
Dylan Mulvaney
Kyle Pollak
Tyler Sodoma
Alex Stone
Donelvan Thigpen
Zack Triska

The KNOW Staff:
Andrew Hungerford, Producing Artistic Director
Tamara Winters, Associate Artistic Director
Emily James, Resident Stage Manager
Nick Koehlke, Technical Director
Alice Flanders, Managing Director
Sarah Beth Hall, Production and Design Associate

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CCM's Mainstage Series production of 'Macbeth.' Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM Presents Inaugural Playwrights Conference, May 9 – 14, 2016

CCM's Mainstage Series production of 'Macbeth.' Photo by Mark Lyons.

CCM proudly presents its inaugural Playwrights Conference from May 9 – 14, 2016. Organized by CCM Assistant Professor of Drama Brant Russell, this summer program is open to aspiring and experienced playwrights alike.

This year’s conference will welcome up to 15 playwrights, who will spend the week writing, participating in master classes with industry professionals and attending readings of their works.

“Ten minute play festivals are a huge way for playwrights to get their work seen,” Russell explains, “so we have designed this program as a professional preparatory conference, which will provide writers with an intensive setting in which to hone their craft.”

At the conclusion of the conference, participants will have a workshopped 10-minute play in hand.

The week-long program offers a Development Track for participants who already have a play that they want to work on during the conference, along with a Fundamentals Track for participants who want to learn the nuts and bolts of playwriting.

Conference participants will have an opportunity to work with a host of renowned theatre professionals, including composer/lyricist/playwright Todd Almond, Huntington Theatre Company director of new work Lisa Timmel, CCM Professor of Stage Direction Emma Griffin, Know Theatre of Cincinnati producing artistic director Andrew Hungerford, Actors Theatre resident dramaturg Hannah Rae Montgomery and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park artistic director and c0-CEO Blake Robinson.

Timmel will serve as the conference’s lead instructor and resident dramaturg, while Almond will serve as playwright-in-residence. Almond has been commissioned to write a new play for this year’s conference, which will allow participants to witness his new work develop over the course of the program. “Our playwrights will benefit from being in the room during the early stages of this new play’s development,” Russell suggests.

Participants will also get to hear their work read aloud by CCM’s resident actors. Russell explains, “An ensemble of CCM actors led by Richard Hess will bring our students’ plays to life every night, and at the end of the week we’ll have a 10-Minute Play Festival performed for the public in the Cohen Family Studio Theater.”

CCM’s 2016 Playwrights Conference is now accepting applications.

To learn more about how you can bring your ideas from page to stage, please visit ccm.uc.edu/summer/playwrights.

CCM News

CCM Alumnus Andrew Hungerford Named Incoming Artistic Director of Cincinnati’s Know Theatre

CCM alumnus Andrew Hungerford.

CCM alumnus Andrew Hungerford.

CCM alumnus Andrew Hungerford (MFA ’05) was officially introduced as Know Theatre of Cincinnati’s incoming artistic director at a special meet-and-greet event last night (Feb. 12). Over the next few months, Hungerford will be working closely with Know Theatre’s current artistic director Eric Vosmeier to ensure a seamless transition.

A graduate of CCM’s Lighting Design and Technology program, Hungerford is also a stage director, playwright, actor, scenic designer and sound designer.

He has served as Know Theatre’s scenic and lighting designer for the past seven seasons and scenic and lighting designer for Cincinnati Shakespeare Company for the last four seasons. He also spent eight seasons as lighting designer for the Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati.

You can learn more about Hungerford’s new position courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer here and Cincinnati CityBeat here.

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