NEW PALTZ – The Department of Theatre Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz presents The Wakeville Stories, a staged reading marking the premiere of the New Play Series schedule for the 2010-2011 academic year. Written by Laurence Carr, directed by Stephen Kitsakos, and read by the esteemed actor Brendan Burke, student performers and faculty, The Wakeville Stories will be performed on October 23 and 24 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. in Parker Theatre.
The Wakeville Stories, a four act play set in a small town in Ohio, during the late summer of post-war 1945, shows the lives of five residents, and how love, sex and memory bring change to each of them after four long years of war. The residents converge at the community cemetery where they confront their enemies – from the war overseas as well as from their own backyard. Carr’s sweet and compelling play about WWII presents timeless characters that an audience of any time period can relate to. If in retrospect we paint the soldiers of “the greatest generation” on a heroic canvas, these men and women themselves lived in the midst of ordinary problems and anxieties caused by separation from friends, sons and daughters, husbands and wives.
Commenting about the reading, director Stephen Kitsakos says, “The objective of a staged reading is to serve the playwright’s ears, and the public audience is there as an eavesdropper, so to speak, on a private collaboration. We are simply trying to help Carr’s characters take their journeys by invoking an organic sensibility and texture of the play and the time period it is set in. The expectation is to engage the audiences in the world of the play and to serve the playwright.”
As part of the play series, in April 2011 the Department of Theatre Arts is hosting a New Play Festival that will consider works: short, long and in-between, by young playwrights, and directed by theatre students. The inaugural weekend of new plays is part of a cross-disciplinary project between faculty and students from the Departments of Theatre Arts, English and Communication & Media.
Laurence Carr works as a writer, editor and educator in the Hudson Valley of New York State and in New York City. Over 30 of his plays and theatre pieces have been performed throughout the United States including New York City, and in Europe. He has received numerous grants and commissions to develop and produce new works. Additionally, Carr’s prose and poetry have been performed and published throughout the country. He currently teaches Dramatic and Creative Writing at New Paltz where he heads the SUNY Playwrights’ Project.
Actor Brendan Patrick Burke has just finished his sixth season as producing Artistic Director of the Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, N.Y. Twice named “Best Actor” in Hudson Valley Magazine’s “Best of the Valley” awards, Burke has been acting professionally for over 15 years. Most recently, he filmed the independent feature Francine with Melissa Leo. At Shadowland he has directed, acted in and produced shows with talents such as Judd Hirsch, Orson Bean, Stephanie Zimbalist, Michele Pawk, John Astin, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss and others. In addition to his acting and directing, Burke is an adjunct instructor in the Department of Theatre Arts at New Paltz.
Director Stephen Kitsakos has been involved in a variety of roles in the professional and academic theatre for the past 30 years. A permanent member of the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and a graduate of New York University, he received training initially as a theatre writer. Since then he has worked as a writer, music director, stage director and sound designer. A member of ASCAP, Kitsakos has received commissions from the BMI Foundation, Catskill Watershed Corp, Episcopal Diocese of New York, Fourth Wall Musical Theatre, U.Conn/Beverly & Raymond Sackler and the Smithsonian Institution. At SUNY New Paltz he directed the 2009 production of Red Masquerade by Jack Wade which was a regional finalist for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival.
Tickets for The Wakeville Stories are $5 general admission available on line at www.newpaltz.edu/theatre or at the Parker Theatre door beginning one hour prior to performance. For additional information call (845) 257-3936.