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Acting Company taps SUNY Oswego for lead role in performance-education project

SUNY Oswego theater students work with crew from The Acting Company in February on the set shared by productions of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Tom Stoppard's tragicomedy "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." The Acting Company has chosen SUNY Oswego to lead one of four regional consortiums in the famed touring troupe's new three-year performance and education initiative, featuring the Bard's "Julius Caesar" and a new play by Marcus Gardley based on the assassination of Malcolm X.

SUNY Oswego theater students work with crew from The Acting Company in February on the set shared by productions of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Tom Stoppard's tragicomedy "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." The Acting Company has chosen SUNY Oswego to lead one of four regional consortiums in the famed touring troupe's new three-year performance and education initiative, featuring the Bard's "Julius Caesar" and a new play by Marcus Gardley based on the assassination of Malcolm X.

OSWEGO — The Acting Company has chosen SUNY Oswego as one of four lead institutions to participate in a new national performance and education initiative made up of colleges and universities, high schools and community organizations.

SUNY Oswego theater students work with crew from The Acting Company in February on the set shared by productions of Shakespeare's "Hamlet" and Tom Stoppard's tragicomedy "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead." The Acting Company has chosen SUNY Oswego to lead one of four regional consortiums in the famed touring troupe's new three-year performance and education initiative, featuring the Bard's "Julius Caesar" and a new play by Marcus Gardley based on the assassination of Malcolm X.
SUNY Oswego theater students work with crew from The Acting Company in February on the set shared by productions of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and Tom Stoppard’s tragicomedy “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” The Acting Company has chosen SUNY Oswego to lead one of four regional consortiums in the famed touring troupe’s new three-year performance and education initiative, featuring the Bard’s “Julius Caesar” and a new play by Marcus Gardley based on the assassination of Malcolm X.

Under the lead of SUNY Oswego, Arizona State University, Towson University and University of Missouri-Kansas City, each consortium will offer professional development opportunities with playwrights, actors, designers, directors and educators over the next three years.

Partnering with SUNY Oswego in the Northeastern consortium are Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith colleges and Le Moyne College.

They are among 26 schools taking part in four regions.

“We’re delighted that our partnering colleges have been selected to participate in this groundbreaking regional residency model,” said John Shaffer, director of arts presentation at SUNY Oswego. “Over three years, there will be many opportunities to support both theater education and a broad range of initiatives in the humanities. The energy comes from the intentional pairing of plays — one classic and the other newly commissioned.”

Shaffer said representatives of The Acting Company and the four collegiate partners in the Northeast consortium are scheduled to gather for a planning conference Oct. 20 in SUNY Oswego’s Marano Campus Center, as part of the first year’s design and development process.

Oswego audiences will remember February’s residency and performances by The Acting Company — “Hamlet” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” — at Waterman Theatre on campus.

The new consortiums’ initial performance and educational activities will focus on Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and a new play by Marcus Gardley based on the assassination of Malcolm X. The Acting Company commissioned the new play to launch the project.

“Race, religion, power, politics and rhetoric are central to both plays,” said Margot Harley, co-founder and producer of The Acting Company. “Ian Belknap, our artistic director, chose this repertory to encourage faculty to examine the causes and repercussions of assassination from historical, political and philosophical perspectives.”

Gardley is a multiple award-winning poet and playwright and a professor at Brown University. His play “On the Levee” was nominated for 11 Audelco Awards, including outstanding playwright, when it premiered at Lincoln Center in 2010.

The new initiative is designed to forge long-term relationships among The Acting Company, colleges and communities-at-large.

“This new initiative continues The Acting Company’s 42-year history as America’s leading national-touring repertory theater while adding new emphasis on developing concentrated and sustained relationships with schools and communities,” according to Earl D. Weiner, the company’s board chair.

Founded by Harley and the late John Houseman in 1972, the New York-based Acting Company has toured to 48 states and 10 foreign countries, earning a Tony Award for Excellence in Theater, Obies, Audelcos and Los Angeles Critics Circle Awards.

Actors Kevin Kline, Rainn Wilson, Patti LuPone, Cristin Milioti, David Ogden Stiers and Jesse L. Martin are among the hundreds of performers who began their careers on tour with The Acting Company.