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Juniata Theatre and Gravity Project Collaborate on 'Return,' a Play of Family, Home

(Posted February 9, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Grounded within a story of a man returning home to claim an inheritance of the family farm where he grew up, the new play "Return" will premiere at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, Feb. 19-21 and Feb. 23-26 in the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts on the Juniata campus.

"Return" is a new piece conceived by The Gravity Project, Juniata's professional theatre ensemble, in collaboration with Juniata's Theatre Department.
Tickets for the production are $3 for students with I.D and $7 for adults. Tickets are available at the box office on the day of the performance, or at Juniata's information desk at Ellis Hall one week before opening night. Tickets also can be ordered by calling (814) 641-3771.

"Return is a story of a man returning home for a reckoning with family and with home."
Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre and artistic director of The Gravity Project


"Return is a story of a man returning home for a reckoning with family and with home," explains Andrew Belser, associate professor of theatre and artistic director of The Gravity Project. "Whether we want to return, or would never consider it, the pull of a 'growing-up place' is inescapable, enchanted by the ghosts we experienced there."

"Return" is staged using The Gravity Project's trademark multimedia approach to theatrical design. Using a vibrant mix of video imagery, shadow puppets and a soundscape comprised of recorded music and ambient sound, the play will create a visually stunning theatrical world that seems at times alien and yet familiar.

The play is still in its workshop phase, meaning the Gravity Project may make changes to the structure and design before staging it professionally. Belser anticipates "Return" returning to Juniata in 2010 and then touring the production at several professional theatres.

"Return" features contributions from many theatre professionals associated with The Gravity Project. Belser, who wrote the play along with contributions from the student cast, also will co-direct the production with Stephanie Skura.

Nate Dryden, a choreographer and movement specialist noted for his work with trapeze, will design movement and puppet sequences for "Return." Dryden, based in Seattle, Wash., is an independent choreographer and teacher who creates pieces for two Tucson, Ariz.-based dance companies: Zuzi and New ARTiculations.

The shadow box used in the production is designed by Randy Ward and the lighting is designed by John Ambrosone, both charter members of The Gravity Project.

Kate Clarke, a director and actor for the group will act in "Return." She has been a member of the Gravity Project since 2007 and directed the college's production of "Pippin" in 2007 and directed "Angels in America" in fall 2008. As an actress, she has appeared in such plays as "But I'm a Cheerleader," "Bitter Suite" and "Stop."

The Juniata students in the cast are as follows: Nate Frieswyk, a freshman from Bel Air, Md.; Suzanne Makosky, a freshman from Greensburg, Pa.; Brenna Fredrickson, a freshman from Fairfax Station, Va.; Skye Hatton-Hopkins, a senior from Bellefonte, Pa.; Kevin Whitmire, a freshman from Enola, Pa.; Josh Beckel, a senior from Hollidaysburg, Pa.; and Melissa Mellon, a sophomore from Patton, Pa. Frances Ku, a sophomore from Nashua, N.H.; and Sara Pilchman, a freshman from Long Beach, Calif., will perform as puppeteers.



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