A photo of the entrance to the CCM Atrium on UC's campus. Photo/UC Creative + Brand.

CCM Acting Faculty, Alumni and Students Embrace Local and National Digital Theatre

A photo of the entrance to the CCM Atrium on UC's campus. Photo/UC Creative + Brand.

Cincinnati Playhouse and the One-Minute Play Festival share creative monologues and short-plays featuring CCM Acting faculty, alumni and students

The pandemic isn’t stopping theatre artists from connecting and sharing their work. Although they can’t gather on stage or perform in front of an in-person audience right now, actors and directors are creating digital spaces to share theatre online.

CCM Acting Professor Brant Russell recently participated in two digital theatre efforts through Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s Monologues of Hope series and the national One-Minute Play Festival (1MPF).

“A bunch of us have refused to allow the lack of sanctioned or safe traditional theatre methods to hamper our practice. We can’t gather, we can’t even be near each other, but the need to make work still exists, and the audiences for it are there,” Russell says. “Zoom/digital theatre is a burgeoning practice, and I’m proud CCM is in the mix.”

The Playhouse’s series commissioned 10 local playwrights to write monologues on the theme of hope during the pandemic. Each monologue is performed by a local actor and shared on the Playhouse’s website and social media accounts. So far, the Monologues of Hope Series has shared nine new works, including Russell’s Play for Our Time and Hope Deconstructed by CCM Acting alumna Torie Wiggins (BFA, ’02).

In Play for Our Time, Russell travels back in time to the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1878 to get some advice from Cincinnati Chief Health Administrator Dr. Thomas C. Minor, portrayed by actor Barry Mulholland. The 19th-century doctor is a bit uncomfortable with Russell’s “rectangle device” (smart phone), but he manages to share some timely words of wisdom.

Wiggins’ Hope Deconstructed features actor Ernaisja Curry in a comedic monologue that examines how “we’ve been getting hope all wrong” by associating it with negativity. “Hope should be hopeful. It should sound hopeful; it should look hopeful. It should start in the eyes like smizing, then the rest of the face follows suit, then the tone of voice, then the positive words with a burst of energy,” the actor exclaims in the monologue.

Hope and creativity fuel these digital theatre projects and various online performances across the country. It is evident in the commitment of these teachers, students, actors, directors and theatre companies who are determined to stay connected and share their work in new ways.

“Theatre develops and strengthens community,” says CCM Acting student Anastasia Jacques. “Digital theatre and live performances over Zoom have made me feel so connected to people very far away.”

Jacques participated in the One Minute Play Festival’s (1MPF) Coronavirus Plays Project, which presented 625 plays via Zoom over 11 days. Russell directed 62 of the one-minute plays, which ranged in topic from “old married couples dealing with quarantine to pigeons deciding on whom they should poop,” he says.

Dominic D’Andrea is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the 1MPF, which is the country’s largest and longest consistently running community-engaged theatre project. Russell directed 1MPF plays when it came to Chicago in 2011 and wrote/directed for the IMPF when it came to Cincinnati in 2015. He cast CCM students for the project and passed his directing duties to a CCM Acting student the next year. A CCM Acting student has been directing for the Cincinnati 1MPF each year ever since, and Russell continues to write plays for it.

“We produce about 1,000 plays a year in 15-20 cities and communities, in real life. We just moved what we do online, so it wasn’t that hard for us,” D’Andrea says of the 1MPF Coronavirus Plays Project. “In this case we did a partnership with The Dramatists Guild of America and, for the first time ever, did an open call. We had about 1,300 emails and 625 useable plays from that. We offered the work up to our partnering orgs and alumni directors to stage some of it. So we built a little online coalition.”

Brant Russell directs CCM Acting students, alumni and other actors through Zoom in the 1MPF's Coronavirus Plays Project. Photo/1MPF

Brant Russell directs CCM Acting students, alumni and other actors through Zoom in the 1MPF’s Coronavirus Plays Project. Photo/1MPF

Russell and D’Andrea have known each other for around 15 years, dating back to when they met at the Lincoln Center Director’s Lab. When D’Andrea launched 1MPF’s Coronavirus Plays Project, he enlisted Russell to direct 62 of them.

D’Andrea estimates that a couple thousand audience members watched the plays through Zoom, and the project involved about 14 directors, 120 actors and 625 writers from 14 different countries.

Russell’s casts included Jacques as well as CCM Acting alumni Ella Eggold (BFA, ’19), Gabriella DiVincenzo (BFA, ’19) and Paige Jordan (BFA, ’20).

Jacques played various roles during the 1MPF project including a loving spouse, a poetic farmer and — her favorite — a doting New Jersey mother. This was the first digital theatre project she has worked on, but it won’t be the last. Jacques is planning to be a guest speaker on “Reliving Childhood,” a YouTube channel launched by CCM Acting students Carlee Coulehan, Sierra Coachman and Noah Buyak. “Reliving Childhood” centers around re-watching TV shows from the students’ youth, and the idea was brought to life when students were separated during quarantine.

“We are taught that live theatre is magical because the audience and the actors are in the same room breathing the same air, but I think it is important to recognize that storytelling is the best medicine — period,” Jacques says. “If we can’t breathe the same air at least we can see each other’s faces and see each other’s hearts.”

Featured image at top: The entrance to the CCM Atrium on UC’s campus. Photo/UC Creative + Brand.

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CCM Acting Presents Annual Senior Showcase on March 29

Enjoy the talents of the CCM Acting Class of 2019 in its exciting senior showcase in Cincinnati prior to its professional debut in New York and Los Angeles.

Graduating students from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music’s Acting program present the annual Senior Showcase at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. this Friday, March 29, 2019, in CCM’s Robert J. Werner Recital Hall.

CCM Acting’s Class of 2019 will also present the showcase at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on April 2, 2019, at New York’s Griffin Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center. The showcase will also be performed at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on April 16, 2019 at Los Angeles’ Garry Marshall Theatre.

The showcase performance features a variety of scenes by CCM Acting’s Class of 2019, demonstrating the depth and breadth of the acting skills they have honed during their undergraduate training at CCM.

The evening performance in Cincinnati will be followed by the annual DOLLY awards recognizing excellence by students in CCM Acting, as well as a reception in the CCM Baur Room. Event details are below.

Meet CCM Acting’s Class of 2019

Jacqueline Daaleman is a graduate of the BFA Acting program at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Born and raised in northern New Jersey, no, she still does not know how to pump gas. At CCM, she played Phoebe in Gracie Gardner’s world premiere of Very Dumb Kids, Voltaire in Candide with CCM Opera and Dabby Bryant in Our Country’s Good. Other favorite credits include: Launce in The Two Gentleman of Verona with RADA (London, UK), Linda in Charlie’s Girls at the Boulder Fringe Festival and Pearl Bryan in Pearl Bryan with InBocca Performance (KY). Film credits and voice over credits include: “Poetry Girl” (Amazon), “CRAIG” and “A Model Friendship”. In addition to theatre, Jacqueline loves to sing, make people laugh, travel around the world and foster puppies. Learn more at jacquelinedaaleman.com.

Gabriella DiVincenzo is a Massachusetts native and is filled with joy to be graduating with a BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). She was seen on the CCM stage in Hamlet as Horatio and The Government Inspector as Anna Andreyevna. She made her professional debut at the Know Theatre of Cincinnati as Amanda in Darkest Night at the Gnarly Stump. Her favorite film experience in was “You’ve Met Your Match when she played a feisty femme fatale. She is wildly passionate about theatre and has worked as a director/producer on many of her own projects, including LUNGS and Men on Boats at the Liberty Exhibition Hall in Cincinnati. Gabriella is also an accomplished voice over artist. Learn more at gabrielladivincenzo.com.

Sarah Durham is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) with a BFA in Acting, and minor in Directing and Filmmaking. She has acted in many film festival winning shorts, and acts, writes, directs and produces for film and theatre. She is certified in Rapier and Dagger, Single Sword, Broadsword and Recommended in Unarmed Combat by the SAFD. Some of her favorite roles include Men on Boats (William Dunn), Di and Viv and Rose (Diane), and Shakespeare’s Fine Wit (Hermia). When she’s not busy with theatre and film, she loves running ultra-marathons, painting, reading comic books, playing tennis and basketball, paddle-boarding, kayaking and cuddling her adorable cat, Robin (named after Batman’s Tim Drake). Learn more at sarahdurhamactor.com.

James Egbert earned his BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, James has always enjoyed Shakespeare and the classics. Some of his favorite roles on stage include the Lead in the one man show Every Brilliant Thing, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet and the Father in Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. Some of his favorite film credits include his hero in the award winning Casper (produced by HighSock Productions), and his comedic relief in the horror film House of Hell (Directed by Jacob Berry). He is accomplished in Stage Combat, and specializes in Rapier and Dagger, Unarmed, Single Sword and Broadsword. In addition to acting, James loves playing chess, writing and all things Star Wars. Learn more at jamesfrancisegbert.com.

Ella Eggold is a young artist who is passionate about using theater as a way to bring light and connection to places that do not have enough of either. Ella has earned a BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and is also a classically trained vocalist. Favorite credits include Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Purdue University), Gertrude in Hamlet (CCM), Lanie in God’s Ear (Purdue University), Rose in Di and Viv and Rose (Whoville Theater) and Bottom in Shakespeare’s Fine Wit (CCM). Although the majority of Ella’s training has been in acting, she has experience in producing, stage managing, set design/set building and lighting. When Ella is not doing theater, she enjoys making (and eating) ice cream, reading books and watching movies. Learn more at ellaeggold.com.

Carter LaCava is an actor, writer, producer and painter with a BFA in acting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory (CCM). Some of his favorite credits from CCM include: The Ghost/Gravedigger in Hamlet, Ivan Alexandrovich Hlestakov in The Government Inspector and Robert Sideway in Our Country’s Good. Some credits outside CCM include: Notwet in the New Stroke Ensemble’s Twothousandelever, Even in The Aliens at Rohs Street Café, and he performed in a reinterpretation of John Cage’s Theatre Piece No. 1 with the SITI company in Saratoga Springs, NY. In 2017 he trained at Skidmore College for the month-long SITI summer theatre workshop, and has since continued his individual physical theatre practice. He is also an actor-combatant with the SAFD, with a certificate in Rapier and Dagger and in Unarmed. Outside of the theater he enjoys long walks in the local park, playing RuneScape and painting. Learn more at carterlacava.com.

Madeleine Page-Schmit is thrilled to have earned her BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Her favorite CCM credits include: Our Country’s Good (Mary Brenham), Di and Viv and Rose (Viv), Con Amore: A Romeo and Juliet Selection (Juliet) and Eurydice (Little Stone). Madeleine wrote, produced and performed an original one-woman show, Casquette Girl, which premiered at the Clifton Performance Theatre in Cincinnati. Casquette Girl is based on the life of her 18th century French ancestor and is charged with forgotten history and themes of female disempowerment and immigrant resilience. Madeleine has studied global health and Buddhism in Thailand, visited the Chinese village where her grandmother was raised, lived with a host family in rural Senegal and written and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She is passionate about building relationships cross-culturally, and also about cheese. A Denver native, Madeleine adores spending time in the mountains hiking and rock climbing. Learn more at madeleinepageschmit.com.

R. Graham Rogers is an actor, writer, director and producer who recently earned his BFA in Acting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). Some of Graham’s CCM highlights include: The Mayor in The Government Inspector, Various Men (eight!) in the world premiere of The Earth is Flat and Landscaper/Attendant/Man on Date in Middletown by Will Eno. Graham’s film highlights include: the Joker in You’ve Met Your Match, a Batman gay fanfic; College Boys and HighSock Productions’ The Update. Graham loves being a part of and creating new works. He’s been a part of at least eight theatrical world premieres to date, plus more than 20 student films, thanks, in large part, to three years as co-Artistic Director of a small production company he and his roommate ran while in school. In addition to art Graham enjoys meditation and dad jokes. Nothing else! If you haven’t heard Graham laugh, you’re missing out. Learn more at rgrahamrogers.com.

New York Acting Showcase

Students from CCM and Otterbein University present their showcases to industry professionals. Visit ohioactorshowcase.com to reserve seats.

Performance Times
1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Tuesday, April 2

The Alice Griffin Jewel Box theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street, New York, New York 10036

Los Angeles Acting Showcase

Students from CCM and Missouri State University present their showcases to industry professionals. Visit theatreanddance.missouristate.edu/showcases/LA.htm to reserve seats.

Performance Times
1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 16

Garry Marshall Theatre
4252 Riverside Drive, Los Angeles, California 91505

Cincinnati Acting Showcase

Performance Times
2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Friday, March 29

Robert J. Werner Recital Hall, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati

Admission to the CCM Acting Senior Showcase on March 29 is FREE; reservations are not required.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.

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