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New Theatre Production, \'Standing Stone\' Focuses on Connections to Land

(Posted February 14, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The next production from Juniata College's theatre department is "Standing Stone," an accessible tale of a son's search for connections to the land he grew up on, as he struggles to find common ground with his past family relationships and with the people who live in his old hometown, to be staged at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 24-26 in Rosenberger Auditorium in Oller Hall on the Juniata campus.

Tickets for all performances are available at the information desk in the Ellis College Center lobby or at the door before each night's performances. Tickets are $5 for general admission and $3 for students. For tickets, please call (814) 641-3333.

The narrative of the play, conceived and directed by Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre, centers on a wanderer, the son of a rural farmer. When the father passes on, the son returns home to claim his inheritance, the family farm, only to learn that his father has willed the property to the town. "The story was inspired by the culture and heritage of Huntingdon," Belser explains.

The play, which premieres at Juniata, will be the first production to be staged by The Gravity Project, a professional theatre group based at Juniata. "Standing Stone" will tour at regional and university theatres next year.

The drama of these family-based scenes is heightened by cutting-edge staging and choreography. The play will use a variety of devices, including video projections and shadow puppets to comment on the narrative while inter-cutting popular culture references into the story. The shadow puppets were designed by Stephen Kaplan, a puppeteer whose work has been used in a variety of Broadway productions, including "The Lion King."

Two members of The Gravity Project ensemble have lent their expertise to the production. Stephanie Skura, a choreographer, worked with the cast on movement. Marika Becz, an actress, provided expertise on voice projection and other theatrical skills.

The cast of Juniata students includes: Tricia Bitetto, a freshman from Ringoes, N.J.; Adam Vachon, a freshman from Gray, Maine; Adam Stanley, a freshman from Huntingtown, Md.; Mandi Yeager, a freshman from Curwensville, Pa.; Paul Blore, a senior from Lancaster, Pa.; and Winnie Wong, a junior international student from Hong Kong.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.