Gannon University to Perform at Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 2
Posted: January 5, 2018
Gannon University's Schuster Theatre troupe will take the stage
at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Region 2
for the first time in more than 20 years.
The festival, on January 20 on the campus of Indiana University
of Pennsylvania, features invited productions from theater programs
at colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania, New York, New
Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Washington, D.C. Gannon will perform
"APE/ESSENCE," a production that garnered rave reviews during the
Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, earlier this
"I compare it to being in the 'Elite 8'" of an athletic
championship, Jax Vadney, technical director of the Schuster
Theatre, said of securing an invitation to the festival. "We're
excited to perform."
"APE/ESSENCE," based on Aldous Huxley's dystopic 1948 novel,
"Ape and Essence," originated at the Schuster Theatre and was
largely created by student actors based on an adaptation written by
the Rev. Shawn Clerkin, associate professor of theatre. Erie-area
theater-lovers who missed the 10-performance run at the Schuster
Theatre in April will have another chance to see the show before
the festival during a one-night-only performance at
Dramashop, 1001 State St., Suite 210, at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan.
13. Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for the general
public and can be purchased online at
Eleven students and two alumni, Ali Leng and Tom Barton,
will be involved in the show.
The invitation is evidence that something special is happening
in the Gannon theatre program, said Assistant Professor of Theatre
Alaina Manchester, who co-wrote and directs "APE/ESSENCE."
"it is just such an honor to showcase what we've been on,"
Manchester said. "Here at Gannon, we strive to explore the process
as well as the product. Our students are here to learn how to
do the thing. Not only are they learning how to do
the thing, they're cultivating their own actor
The festival is a chance for student actors to not only showcase
their efforts but to learn from peers at other schools, Clerkin
"They're going to see some of the best productions" from schools
throughout the region, Clerkin said. "And it's an opportunity for
them to share their work. I'm always impressed because sometimes
they realize how special their (Gannon) program is and how
universal theatre is."
The invitation to perform on the the Kennedy Center American
College Theatre Festival Region 2 stage caps a season of praise for
"APE/ESSENCE" and the theatre program. Following an August
performance at the International Collegiate Theatre Festival
(ICTF), part of the renowned Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the
British Theatre Guide awarded the show four of five stars - the
highest rating given to any of the four colleges that performed at
Reviewer Graeme Strachan wrote of the production, "The players
lope and whoop, while flinging themselves around the stage in
energetic glee, bedecked in Mad Max-like war paint, khaki clothes
and furs, managing to milk every drop of humour out of the
ridiculousness of the situation, while allowing the uncomfortable
undercurrent of violence and horror to bubble just below the
surface, erupting periodically." He added, "Indeed, the tragedy of
this show is that it will only appear for a mere 4 showings, each
of which is at a different time of day-a state of affairs that will
probably ensure it isn't seen by nearly enough Fringe patrons."