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Masters-in-the-Making Series Spotlights Talents of New Directors

New Northwestern TIC series allows audiences to see the directors of tomorrow today

February 1, 2010 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The Theatre and Interpretation Center (TIC) at Northwestern University will present three productions in its new Masters-in-the-Making series staged by the theatre directors of tomorrow. The winter plays, part of TIC's 2009-10 mainstage season, represent the final thesis productions of third-year students in the Northwestern School of Communication's MFA Directing Program.

Running from Jan. 29 through March 14, the series will include productions of David Greig's emotive fable "The American Pilot" (Jan. 29 to Feb. 7); Pete Townshend's rock-and-roll adventure "The Who's Tommy" (Feb. 18 to March 7); and an adaptation of Margaret Atwood's acclaimed novel "The Handmaid's Tale" (March 5 to 14). The productions are, respectively, directed by Brant Russell, Geoff Button and Catherine Miller Hardy. Miller Hardy also adapted "The Handmaid's Tale" for her staging.

All ticketed performances are open to the public and will take place on Northwestern's Evanston campus.

TIC Artistic Director Henry Godinez and Tony Award-winning director Anna Shapiro, associate professor of theatre and director of the MFA Directing Program in the School of Communication, are among the faculty members working with students on the Masters-in-the-Making initiative.

"These stagings are the culmination of three years of vision and training," said Godinez, who also is resident artistic associate of the Goodman Theatre. "These young talents are likely to be the new voices in American theatre. Masters-in-the-Making is intended to open the door to future projects and collaborations."

Each directing student worked closely with award-winning theatre faculty, students and staff to fully realize their production. Leaders in the local and regional theatre field are expected to be in attendance at the Masters-in-the-Making performances.

Shapiro, affiliated with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company since 1995, views the Masters-in-the-Making initiative as a way to enhance the artistic experience for TIC patrons. "Theatre people love being involved in all aspects of the creative process," said Shapiro. "They enjoy watching a well-executed story, but they also want to feel a part of the initial glow, or kernel, of an idea. Masters-in-the-Making is an opportunity for our audiences to get in on the ‘ground floor' of the artistic careers of up-and-coming directors."

Post-show discussions with members of the cast and creative team will follow select Sunday matinee and Thursday evening performances during each production's run. In addition, Borders bookstore and TIC will host two discussions, titled "In the Spotlight," with Hardy on her premiere stage adaptation of "The Handmaid's Tale." The discussions will take place from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, and from 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21, at Borders upstairs cafe, 1700 Maple Ave., in Evanston. Both discussions are free and open to the public.

Tickets for each production are $15 for the general public; $12 for seniors 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for full-time students. Single tickets may be purchased through the TIC Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or online at www.tic.northwestern.edu.

Masters-in-the-Making Series Winter 2010 Productions

"The American Pilot" by David Greig, 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29; 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30; 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31; 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 4; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6; and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. After crashing in the hills of a war-torn foreign country, an injured American bomber pilot finds shelter in a farmer's barn. Unable to speak the local language, he is left with only the music on his iPod to communicate. His fate -- ransom, death or freedom -- will be determined by the conflicting agendas of the farmer, his family and the local militia. Directed by Brant Russell, Greig's fable illuminates how a simple connection between two people can be the key to survival and how these connections often are lost by an inability to rise above circumstances.

"The Who's Tommy," 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 18; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21; 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25; 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 26; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27; 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28; 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 3; 8 p.m. Thursday, March 4; 2 p.m. Saturday, March 6; and 8 p.m. Sunday, March 7, Josephine Louis Theater, 20 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Based on "Tommy," the iconic 1969 rock opera by The Who,  "The Who's Tommy" chronicles the story of a young man whose life is forever altered by an act of violence. With rock-concert staging, Jeff nominated director Geoff Button brings the story of "Tommy" to light in a new, electrifying way.

"The Handmaid's Tale," 8 p.m. Friday, March 5; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 6; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 7; 8 p.m. Thursday, March 11; 8 p.m. Friday, March 12; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 13; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 14, Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus. Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood and adapted and directed by Catherine Miller Hardy, "The Handmaid's Tale" is the story of a woman living under an authoritarian regime in the not-too-distant future. One of few remaining fertile women, she is given to a wealthy and powerful couple to bear "their" children. As weeks stretch into months and this strange new world becomes the norm, the woman must find a way to preserve the life she knew and face her own complicity in the situation she finds herself.

Topics: Campus Life