(Posted September 24, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The classic theatrical elements of mistaken identity, a boy seeking his true self, friendship (and even juggling) will be on display in the premiere of a new play staged by the Juniata College theatre department and the college\'s Gravity Project called \"Crispin,\" which will debut at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 4 through Saturday, Oct. 6 in the Suzanne von Liebig Theatre on the Juniata campus. The play is free and open to the public. \"Crispin\" is set in 14th century England (1377, to be exact) and tells the story of a young serf living on an immense feudal manor. When Crispin\'s mother dies, the young boy becomes hunted, sought after by the steward of the manor. The boy goes on the run, befriends a priest, and then meets a singer named Bear. The singer, whose talents include juggling, dancing and wise counsel, teaches Crispin how to survive in the world. The tale of friendship and survival balances on the drama and humor of Crispin\'s journey, but also on the question of why Crispin is being pursued. The play, by Russell Davis, is based on \"Crispin: The Cross of Lead,\" the Newbury Award-winning young adult novel by Avi. Davis created the play as part of a National Endowment for the Arts project asking noted playwrights to adapt Newbury Award books to the stage. \"It\'s really a family-oriented play,\" says Andrew Belser, professor of theatre and director of \"Crispin.\" The production and development of the play started at Juniata as playwright Davis worked in residence on campus, shaping the play in collaboration with Belser, Juniata students and members of The Gravity Project, which is Juniata\'s professional theatre ensemble. In January, a professional theatre company, People\'s Light Theatre Company, of Malvern, Pa. outside Philadelphia, will stage the Juniata production of \"Crispin\" for four weeks in 2008 from Jan. 17 through Feb. 17. Juniata student Joshua Beckel, of Hollidaysburg, Pa., who has a featured role in the college production, will reprise his role in the professional production. Director Belser also will direct the People\'s Light production. Several other Juniata students will work on the technical crew for both productions. The production also features collaborations with members of The Gravity Project. The scenic design is created by Randy Ward, head of the design program at Virginia Tech University; the lighting design is by John Ambrosone, assistant professor of lighting design at Virginia Tech; original music composed by John Nuhn, a New York-based theatre composer; and movement choreographed by Stephanie Skura, a master teacher. Belser says that \"Crispin\" also will be staged in other professional theatres throughout the United States, following its professional debut.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.