The Theatre Arts Program (TAP) at Sacred Heart University will have no summer lull this year. Instead, for the first time in TAP’s history, it is offering a robust summer showcase with performances, readings and workshops.
Students, faculty and staff will begin the season in July with the laugh-out-loud comedy Avenue Q in the University’s Little Theatre and the classic Shakespeare play Macbeth in the University’s outdoor amphitheater, both through July 30. Later in the season, SHU students will learn and collaborate with pre-Broadway composers and National High School Playwright winners, who all have created unique work.
“We tried for many years to have a summer theater program,” said Jerry Goehring, director of performing arts. “It’s expensive, and we had to make sure we had enough momentum to do it annually.”
Goehring, a Tony- and Grammy-nominated producer, has been with SHU for 11 years. He became director of performing arts seven years ago and was tasked with establishing a theater program. At the time there was no TAP, only a club called SHU Players that had about 12 participants. Since TAP’s first production, RENT, in 2010, the program has thrived and now has 180 members. Theater also became a major at SHU two years ago, allowing the program to merge with academia.
Summer theater camps were once in high demand, but nowadays very few exist, Goehring said. Those that have been successful allow students to create, explore and develop their own productions, as SHU is doing. Along with performing what Goehring refers to as the “saucy” Avenue Q and an abridged version of Macbeth, SHU is welcoming pre-Broadway composers to campus to share their works and experiences with students.
New shows have to start somewhere, said Goehring, who also produces plays in New York City. In that light, SHU hosted a national high school playwright competition earlier this year, asking high school students from across the nation to submit their works. The two winners will join SHU students for workshops and readings this summer.
“It’s really exciting to be at the inception of something,” said Ali Roach ’10, assistant director of performing arts. She worked as costume designer on SHU’s performance of RENT and has seen TAP’s evolution.
Both Roach and Goehring credit the program’s growth on its ability to take on thought-provoking productions, whether it be something a student wrote or a show that has been around for decades. Goehring said students enjoy discussing the messages and themes associated with productions; it gives them a voice and the opportunity to express themselves.
For more information on TAP and its summer line-up, visit: http://edgertoncenter.org/theatre_arts.php