Theatre UMF presents premier of original play “Staring Up at Giants,” March 1-4

FARMINGTON, ME  (February 21, 2018)—The University of Maine at Farmington is proud to present the world premier performance of “Staring Up at Giants,” as the spring Theatre UMF production. Performances are at 7:30 p.m., Thursday–Saturday, March 1–3, and 2 p.m., Sunday, March 4, in the UMF Alumni Theater.

(Top to bottom) Chloe Woodward and Lizzie Mitchell rehearse for Staring Up at Giants.

(Top to bottom) Chloe Woodward and Lizzie Mitchell rehearse for Staring Up at Giants.

An original, never-before-seen performance, this play is created by the performance ensemble and director, Melissa C. Thompson, UMF assistant professor of performing arts, as they explored the concept of resistance in all of its facets—physical, scientific, social and political.

The ensemble dove into questions such as: what does resistance look, sound and feel like? As individuals, what moves us to resist? Are there ways we resist that are based in our cultures, regions or personalities? What kind of things do we fight for, what do we fight over and how do we resolve conflict? How do we find the bravery to resist when facing problems that affect the entire community? With these questions as an inspiration and employing experimental physical theatre techniques, the resulting performance is in turn funny, poignant and compelling.

Created using “devised performance” techniques, the show began only with an ensemble, a set design and a concept to explore. Before approaching any content creation, the ensemble trained together in physical theatre and composition work as a way to get the group on the same aesthetic page—taking the focus away from traditional character creation and instead putting focus on the ways people communicate with each other physically.

The director and ensemble then went through a process of “devising”—creating content, combining it with other content, editing, revising, etc.—resulting in a performance that the whole group had a significant hand in crafting.

“Devised performance is probably my favorite way to work,” stated director Melissa C. Thompson. “It gets students thinking in new ways, reaching for ideas they wouldn’t have considered when first auditioning, and really taking ownership over the work they end up producing.  They come out of the process really feeling that the work belonged to all of them.”

Thompson is an artist, a scholar, and a co-founder of the multi-disciplinary arts project The Sacred Heart Archive. She has performed and conducted devised physical theatre workshops both nationally and internationally working with a diverse group of artists from Richard Gough of the Center for Performance Research to Elevator Repair Service to Tim Miller of the “NEA Four.”

Her original piece, “The Key Said Run and the Door Said Fly,” has been featured at many spaces across the U.S., including the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and Highways Performance Space.

Thompson has two current multi-disciplinary performance collaborations:  “Ask the Ambien Cassandra”—a collaboration with New Media designer Alison Dobbins, and “All Night Check: Beautiful Young Ladies to Perform for You—a collaboration with Victoria Petterson Lantz and Angela Swiegart-Gallagher of The Wandering Uterus Project.

She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The Cast:
(Students with hometowns)

Julia Allen – Cromwell, Conn.
Gail Bello – Waltham, Mass.
Charles Lang – Norway
Elizabeth Mitchell – Turner
Maddison Whittington – Farmington
Chloe Woodward – Augusta

Stage Manager:  Brittany Paradis – Jay
Assistant Stage Manager:  Michaela Carney – Richmond
Set Design: Stan Spilecki
Sound Design: Michael Diffin

# # #

 

Media Contact: Melissa C. Thompson, UMF assistant professor of performing arts, melissa.thompson@maine.edu

EDITOR’S NOTE: Image can be found at:
http://www2.umf.maine.edu/inside/wp-content/uploads/sites/159/2018/02/RP178-040.jpg
Photo Credit: UMF photo
Photo Caption: (Top to bottom) Chloe Woodward and Lizzie Mitchell rehearse for Staring Up at Giants.