Nov 23

A Confused Classic: A Christmas Carol

Brian McEleney as Ebenezer Scrooge and the cast of the 35th annual production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming, directed by Christopher Windom, presented by Cardi’s Furniture with supporting sponsor Amica Insurance. Performances will be November 18 - December 30 in the Chace Theater. Set design: Michael McGarty; Costume Design: William Lane; Lighting Design: John Eckert. Photo by: Mark Turek.

A Christmas Carol, adapted from Charles Dickens’ novel by Adrian Hall and Richard Cumming, original music by Richard Cumming, Trinity Repertory Company, 11/18/11-12/30/11, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/ACC.php.

Reviewed by Craig Idlebrook

(Providence, RI) At first glance, it seems easy to perform A Christmas Carol; just round up the usual characters from last year and dust off the crutch.  But staging a play that everyone knows can present a challenge because of audience dogma; everyone has an idea of the way the play should go. A director can be ridden out on a rail if s(he) strays too far from the collective idea of the play.

Confronted with such a double-edged sword, directors have two options.  They may either decide to stage the play faithfully, trying to bring out bits of nuance to keep theater-goers and actors from falling asleep, or stage the play in a new way that helps the audience examine why it has become such a cultural icon.  Continue reading

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Sep 17

His Girl Friday: Justifiable Laughter

Left to right: Angela Brazil as Hildy Johnson, Stephen Thorne as McCue, Lovell Holder (Brown/Trinity

His Girl Friday by John Guare, adapted from The Front Page by Ben Hecht/Charles McArthur & Columbia Pictures Film, Trinity Repertory Company, 9/9/11-10/9/11, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/CAB.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

(Providence, RI) John Guare lends his wry wit to his newest creation: His Girl Friday. With the talented cast, masterful direction, and clever design, the pre-World War II press room. With the black and white realities mixed in with the comedy, the play shines a light on the present ambiguities of justice, media manipulation, and political diversion. Continue reading

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May 18

Poe’s Existentialism by Gaslight

(L To R) Resident acting company members Brian McEleney and and Phyllis Kay with Brown/Trinity Rep MFA ’12 actor Charlie Thurston as Young Edgar Poe.in the world premiere of Stephen Thorne’s The Completely Fictional – Utterly True – Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe. Set Design by Susan Zeeman Rogers, Costume Design by William Lane and Lighting Design by Keith Parham. Photo by Mark Turek.

The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe by Stephen Thorne, Trinity Repertory Company, Dowling Theater, 5/6/11-6/11/11, http://www.trinityrep.com/on_stage/current_season/ST.php.

Reviewed by Becca Kidwell

Something delightfully macabre is happening at Trinity Rep.  Even Edgar Allan Poe is beside himself–literally.  Stephen Thorne spins an atmospheric tale that combines true facts, speculation, and gothic fiction in his new play The Completely Fictional-Utterly True-Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe. Trinity Rep’s world premiere entices the senses, questions reality, questions meaning, and ushers in a new form of ghost story.

Thorne’s play begins with Edgar Allan Poe in the hospital–unsure of how he got there but the attendants tell him he is dying.  Poe explores his own demise and tries to find meaning through the senses.  In the first act, he denies that he is dying and tries to discover Continue reading

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Nov 09

THE FARCE IS WITH HIM: An Interview with Brian McEleney

www.trinityrep.com

pictured (left to right): Fred Sullivan Jr., Brian McEleney, Anne Scurria and Mauro Hantman in Twelfth Night, directed by Brian McEleney at Trinity Rep. Set designs by Eugene Lee, costumes by William Lane, lighting by John Ambrosone. (Photo: Mark Turek)

by Becca Kidwell

In these harsh economic times, it is difficult to imagine having the same job at the same company for twenty-six years.  It is even more difficult to imagine having a theatre job for longer than the run of one show.  Brian McEleney of Trinity Rep has done both.  This year, he continues his joyful romp through life as director of Trinity Rep’s productions of Absurd Person Singular and The Crucible and actor in The Completely Fictional—Utterly True—Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe.

Although he did a few plays in high school, it was not until college when he started to think about a theatrical career.  As a senior at Trinity College (where one of his classmates was Anne Scurria—now a fellow company member), McEleney was accepted to Yale and “that convinced me that this could be a serious career, and I’ve done almost nothing else ever since.”  He first taught at Princeton University and The Bread Loaf School of English.  Since 1981, he has taught at Trinity Rep and is currently the head of acting for the Brown/Trinity M.F.A. Program.

With successful productions both in acting and directing, I ask him which he prefers:

“Hard to say which I like more; it’s kind of like asking which of your children is your favorite…  However, preproduction work as a director is tremendous fun — thinking about the play, imagining what the production should look and feel like, finding big ideas that will tie the whole thing together.  And also, when you’re directing, the dreaded labor of learning lines isn’t an issue.  However, after the play opens you’re pretty much done.  As an actor, I love the performing aspect — the fact that you get to do it eight times a week that you get a new chance every day to make it better and deeper.  I love the athletic aspect of acting that you always have to be doing your absolute best and giving the play to a new audience every night.” Continue reading

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