BRIT Research and New Work
“The seeds planted by the BRIT founders have borne fruit…”
Research and collaboration are hallmarks of the BRIT Program. Since its beginning, students and guest artists have worked together to create exciting new work. Together they have devised original plays and workshopped musicals adapted from classic stories.
Notes from the director of Ravens, a new devised work by the playwright (Kate Kerrow), the director (Helen Tennison)
and the student cast of the 2013-14 BRIT Program show:
“When I was approached with the initial brief for Ravens I was hugely excited for three reasons. The first reason was that I was absolutely delighted to be able to work with all the students and faculty at USF again. The second reason was the opportunity to make a piece about women’s experience. The theatrical cannon offers greater visibility and diversity in its portrayal of the male meaning that there is a wealth of unexplored female experience just waiting to be staged.
Finally, the devising process is inspiring, deeply creative, and particularly empowering for young actors. You begin with no script and the piece emerges gradually through the collaborative work of all involved--anything could happen! All of the themes explored and characters created came from the ideas of the group as a whole and all the choreography and scenes that you see in Ravens are based on improvisations created with the actors over the last six weeks. During these improvisations we found a collective interest in the symbolic nature of the bird. We loved that birds captured the essence of freedom, yet we wanted to challenge the traditional image of women as fragile, beautiful birds – just as the characters in our stories challenge or are challenged by the traditional gender identities assigned to them. We chose to call the show Ravens because in Native American lore, the raven symbolizes transgression, transformation and empowerment.”
Filter Theatre Company, USF School of Theatre & Dance’s 2012 British International Theatre Program guest artists, collaborated with our students to create an original work of theatre inspired by the students’ own stories, Body Stories. This theatre piece was written, choreographed, and sound designed in rehearsal each day with our guest artists and students -- the script refined until days before opening night. Our students--actors, stage managers, sound technicians--who were involved with the show explain best the experience of working on this new, collaborative piece:
Michelle Moracco (actor): “I felt like this type of theatre flooded me. It forced me to accept what was going on. It formed me to say, like, screw it if you look stupid, screw all your insecurities, just do it here and now.”
Kendell McNay (actor): “The thing about the space, that is so cool, is you strip all scenic and costume elements and it's just actors acting and that is what is left. And you know, that's kind of the good stuff.”
Savannah Richmond (stage manager): “Everyone who came from Filter managed to keep the level of leadership, but at the same time they were a part of us too. Filter was just amazing and creative and crazy.”
Bobby and the Chimps
TheatreUSF workshop production of Bobby and the Chimps, 2009.
Former BRIT guests and USF faculty have engineered new professional theatre projects.
Award-winning playwright and director James Phillips workshopped his new play, Bobby and the Chimps, at USF in the winter of 2009.
The Three Musketeers and The Old Curiosity Shop
The musical, The Three Musketeers, and Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop were developed at USF and have found professional afterlives in the United States and Europe. School of Theatre & Dance Assistant Professor David Mann has been cast as Rochefort in the East Coast premiere of The Three Musketeers (August 2007) at the North Shore Musical Theatre. The Three Musketeers is a classic tale and now a swashbuckling musical originated at the University of South Florida. This production was directed by former BRIT artist, Francis Matthews, with music by George Stiles, award-winning composer of Honk! and Broadway's Mary Poppins. TheatreUSF and the BRIT Program will continue to integrate masterclass training and new theatre development into its research endeavors. Thanks to John W. Holloway and Werner and Ann Von Rosenthiel for supporting these BRIT Program spin-offs!