Radhica Ganapathy West Virginia University’s School of Theatre & Dance will welcome a new scholar in the fall of 2016. Radhica Ganapathy will serve as an assistant professor of theatre history and criticism.

“I love the fact that WVU’s is a practice oriented program that offers so much variety via performances toward the study of theatre and dance; thus, contributing to a balance between theory and practice,” Ganapathy said.

She’s eager to collaborate with students on innovative LAB Theatre productions. “I am in constant awe of their passion and hunger to put ideas through experimentation, to create new works, and to expand their current knowledge database in every possible academic capacity for their future,” she said.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Ganapathy join our faculty,” said Jay Malarcher, associate professor and dramaturg for the School.  ”She brings a breadth of knowledge and experience that will enhance the education not only of our own majors, but also of students from all reaches of the University in ways that the School of Theatre & Dance couldn’t before.”

Ganapathy’s research engages in critical representations of race, class, gender, and sexuality in 20th century theatre and performance. She holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from Texas Tech University with a dual focus in history, theory, and criticism and acting and directing.

She began her career in theatre as a professional actor in New Delhi before relocating to the United States. Since then, she has also worked as a director, dramaturg, and producer. She has collaborated with various artists and performers in India and the United States.

Prior to joining WVU’s School of Theatre & Dance, she taught at Penn State Berks and Stockholm University in Sweden. Her current research is about contemporary non-western performance practices in India, exploring notions of performance and performativity in art and everyday life.

General and NWE

A new musical theatre ensemble at West Virginia University will end its first year with a spring concert at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7, in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center.

The New World Ensemble will perform pieces of Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” and Adam Guettel’s “Light in the Piazza,” among others. The concert is free and open to the public.

General McArthur Hambrick, assistant professor of dance in WVU’s School of Theatre and Dance, started the group in the fall semester of 2015 as “a means to give musical theatre students an outlet to perform and hone their crafts, as well as to create a small, self-contained group that can perform at special events on and off campus, acting as ambassadors for the program, the College of Creative Arts, and WVU,” Hambrick said.

The mission of the group is twofold: “preparing students for a professional performance career and educating young and old audiences in the musical theatre repertoire, bringing entertainment to parts of West Virginia that might not see it otherwise,” Hambrick said.

Members of the ensemble have additional opportunities to develop performance skills, hone their sight reading, and become more aware of the wide range of musical theatre. Students work their way to becoming “triple threats,” adept actors, singers and dancers, while building an ensemble with their peers.

Students in the ensemble include Marissa Bailey, Kayla Banks, Alex Brown, Patrick Clarke, Katherine Conklin, Jordan Crow, Michaela Edens, Deja Elliott, Taylor Heath, Haley Hizer, Casey Johnson, Hannah Kitchen, Ashley Koon, Hunter Nolan, Elizabeth Schiffbauer, Lindsay Wayne, and accompanist Julia Kindernect.

New World Ensemble rehearsal

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information about ticketed events, call 304.293.SHOW. For information about any College of Creative Arts events, call the Publicity Office at 304.293.3397. Events on this calendar are subject to change. For the latest information, see our web calendar at http://ccarts.wvu.edu.

All College of Creative Arts programs, services, and activities are accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations, call 304.293.4171.

Saturday, May 7
CONCERT: New World Ensemble
A new musical theatre ensemble at West Virginia University will end its first year with a spring concert at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7, in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center. The New World Ensemble will perform pieces of Jason Robert Brown’s “Songs for a New World,” Stephen Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George,” and Adam Guettel’s “Light in the Piazza,” among others. The concert is free and open to the public.

Through Saturday, May 14
EXHIBITION: Bachelor of Fine Arts Show
Seniors graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree in the WVU College of Creative Arts will exhibit their final projects in the Creative Arts Center’s Mesaros Galleries, April 14 through May 14. The Mesaros Galleries will be open during the College of Creative Arts Commencement ceremony, to be held Friday, May 13, at 4 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre of the Creative Arts Center.

Through June 12
EXHIBITION: “Here to There”
Huntington area art lovers will get a chance to enjoy works by West Virginia University faculty members in an ongoing exhibition. “Here to There: An Exhibition of Work by WVU School of Art & Design Faculty” is on view at the Huntington Museum of Art through June 12.

Mark your calendars:

Ongoing

ART MUSEUM OF WVU: Exhibitions: Visual Conversations: Looking and Listening and Independent Vision: Self-Taught Artists from Appalachia
The Art Museum of WVU is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://artmuseum.wvu.edu.

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
This year, West Virginia University will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Visit http://artsandhumanities.wvu.edu for more information and a calendar of events.

WVU Student Produces Original Work

Joseph | April 28, 2016

This weekend WVU School of Theatre and Dance’s Woody Pond is opening his original play There’s a Darkness Around Me That’s Flooded in Light at the Creative Arts Center in the SLAB classroom.

13002494_997310207050133_8088201698435417352_o There’s a Darkness is a play about three swordsmen in training who are sitting on a couch in the woods waiting to solve their final test. They must solve a riddle in order to pass this test, and as they look forward on what is next they look back on the events in their life that lead them to this point. Because of their disjointed past, they find family and kinship with each other. By exploring their past, future, and relationships they search for the feeling of fulfillment in their lives. Ultimately, these characters find that where they were and where they are going is not important, but rather the journey to get there.

We had a chance to sit down with playwright and director Woody Pond to get some insight into the show, and his writing process.

What gave you the idea for this show? What was your starting point?

Woody: A couple of things actually. I began by watching an anime television show that is about two swordsmen. One is stoic, one is calm, but they are both stubborn about what they want, so they are trying to kill each other. Then this girl come sin and tells them they can’t kill each other, and before they kill each other they have to do complete a task for her. So throughout the story they are working to protect this girl, and eventually they start to protect each other. I originally wanted to write a play based on that. However, as I started writing, it started to change and it became a story about how these people have these flashbacks about why they became swordsmen. I was interested in the swordsman, because they are kind of that legendary hero that we don’t really talk about. So i created everyday, contemporary people that all of us would talk to, but they are these swordsmen that have a sort of antiquity to them, and a sort of fantasy element. Along with all that, I wanted to really examine my experience with not knowing what I am supposed to be doing with my life or where I am supposed to end up. Ultimately it came from creative fantasy as well as personal point of view about life – thus, looking at life from a unique angle that is also relatable to the same way we all look at life.

What is the process you have gone through to get this final script?

Woody: I have touched it so many times. I started writing it sophomore year, and then finished it up this summer. Then I came back fall semester, talked to some faculty, and was kind of interested in producing what I had written. Then, I got cast in a show, and I was unsure of how to go about doing this, so I got some people together to do a reading. That way we could talk about it, get some feedback, and then make adjustments to make it better. A bunch of my peers came in to read the play, and we talked afterward for about an hour. I just took down as many notes as I could while I was listening to the play, and also took down the feedback that my readers were giving me. They told me what felt a little weird about the dialogues, where the story didn’t seem to connect, so I started to find way that the script connected that I hadn’t written that should have been there. So that was the first step. I had to make sure that the play all seemed like one play in one world instead of separated chunks. So I went back and looked at the play as a whole, did a bunch of editing, and then went back and did another reading with the same cast. After the second reading I got a lot of good feedback and decided I definitely wanted to take this to the next step and put it on stage. When I got the people up and moving, I started to see more of who these people were, and then I was able to incorporate that into the show. I was editing throughout the entire rehearsal process, and gave them a final version of the script last week. I am still editing it in my head, but I wanted to give them a final product to work on.

What is your favorite part of the script?

Woody: There’s a scene that I always say is my favorite scene. It used to be a comedic scene with a character called Hero, who is in the the girl swordsman’s (Katana) flashback as her love interest. so when I first did the reading my actress, Rachel Moore, was saying that she would never like this guy as a girl, she would never hit it off with him. So I decided I needed to adjust the character a little bit. I still wanted him to have an arrogant quality, but I toned it back. Now that I’ve kept doing it, and the two actors that I have in it now have help me change and develop it more. It has turned into this beautiful scene that is about two people letting down their guard for the first time and finding someone that they can connect to. They nearly fall in love, but it is just this chance meeting so they don’t want to take it too far, but that relationship spurs her to become a swordsman. It’s just such a great scene it’s sad, it’s happy, it’s funny – it’s lovely and romantic. As a scene, it could stand alone, and that is what I like about it so much.

Why this story now?

Woody: Because I’m watching people that I’m really close with walk into reality and walk into life. They walk on these paths that they don’t know what is going to be on it yet, and they don’t even know what they want to be on it. I felt that so much being around everybody, that I wanted people to see this and to be able to walk away and think “Regardless of what happens at the end, I just want to be able to go, and that it’s worth it.” If the audience walks away with anything it’s that it’s going to be hard to achieve whatever yours dreams are, but the fact that you’re chasing them is so important. That’s what my family always tells me, and that’s what I tell myself. As artists, that’s all we have, so it’s a homage to art and a homage to the people I really care about and respect who have done that. That’s why I want to tell this story.

Woody has put a lot of time and effort into this play that is very personal to him, as well as the actors who are working on it. the show runs April 29th – April 30th at 7:30 p.m. and May 1st at 2:00 p.m. in the SLAB classroom at the Creative Arts Center. Seating is very limited, so be sure to arrive early for a seat.

kathleen_andrea

A pair of West Virginia University dance majors will advance their careers with prestigious summer internships.

Kathleen Sweat, a junior from Cross Lanes, will take part in the Hubbard Street Dance Summer Intensive in Chicago. Ashley Pritchard, a freshman from Cranberry Township, Pa., was accepted into the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes Summer Intensive.

“Kathleen and Ashley competed on a national level to participate in these programs, and this definitely reflects well on the quality of dancers we have in our program,” said Yoav Kaddar, professor of dance in WVU’s School of Theatre and Dance.

Sweat worked with Hubbard Street choreographer Meredith Dincolo for a piece in last fall’s Dance Now! concert.

“I asked Meredith about the program there and how to go about auditioning,” she said. “I’m going to be dancing eight to twelve hours every day.”

Hubbard Street’s intensive offers training in ballet, modern, yoga, pilates, improvisation, choreography, and repertoire classes. “I really just want to expand myself and learn as much as I can and to make myself a well-rounded dancer,” said Sweat, who hopes to dance with a professional company after completing her studies at WVU.

“One great thing about this program is that it has a lot of people my age, and I can make connections,” Sweat said.

The Rockettes almost seem like destiny to Pritchard.

“All through my competitive dance career, attention was always drawn to the fact that I have long legs,” she said. “I was frequently asked if I had considered a career as a Rockette, even as recently as my audition for the WVU dance program.”

A classmate had completed the program last summer and thought it would be a good fit for Pritchard.

“I hope to get a better insight into what it takes to pursue a career as a Rockette,” she said. “It will be a strenuous and intense week of dancing, but I definitely welcome the challenge and will use this experience to my advantage.”

While graduation is still a few years away for Pritchard, she hopes to pursue a career as a dancer “wherever the opportunities take me. I don’t want to restrict myself just New York or Los Angeles, as there are many other cities here and abroad that can offer dance options to showcase my abilities.”

WVU’s dance faculty knows firsthand the importance of augmenting academic dance training with experiences elsewhere during the summer. At some point during his or her training, each faculty member attended numerous summer dance intensives.

“It’s like any other summer internship; it gives you an inside look and feel of the professional world,” said Kaddar. “It’s an opportunity to forge new professional relationships that sometimes last a lifetime, and it’s where you grow the most as a dancer because of the intense focus only on the craft.

“Our goal in the program is to foster this in all our students so they search and go to further their dance training during the summers,” he added. “Like athletes, dancers cannot afford to take the entire summer break off from training.” The program is also looking to support students financially in order to help them meet the financial demands of attending such intensives.

image1 (6) Over the last two weeks WVU’s School of Theatre and dance presented The Arabian Nights by Mary Zimmerman, and of the many highlights in this production were the beautiful design elements. The costumes, lights, sound, and set all created a magical world for the audience and established the perfect setting for this story to be told. The set immediately transported the audience as soon as they walked into the theatre space, and it invited us in and surrounded us with detail and beauty. One begins to wonder how such a beautiful space is created, and how it seems to fit perfectly with the performances as well as the writing. We had the opportunity to sit down the MFA Scenic Designer James Raymond to talk about his process in coming up with a space that would serve the story Zimmerman, and Director Lee Blair, wanted to present.

Where did you begin with this process?

James: Basically everything starts with the script, and then all of the designers meet up with the Director [Lee Blair], and he gives his thoughts about what he envisions the world to be. So he gives us a packet of his research on what he is thinking for the music, costumes, set, and lights. This show is fun because it incorporates all aspects of art such as dance, music, puppetry, thus we were able to really sit down and figure out how far we wanted to go with this all-inclusive world. Because of the way this script is written, the design can be taken in a variety of directions, and there is no limit to what can be done. You have all of these smaller stories given from the perspective of Scheherazade, who is trying to save herself by recounting all of these tales to the king Shahryar. These elements in the show really leave the creative process open to bouncing ideas back and forth between designer and director.

How did all of these elements inform your design?

James: So for me I focused on the king’s world. Because Scheherazade is forced to be in his palace telling these stories to not only save her own life, but also heal his broken heart, I took the opportunity to symbolically represent what he was internally struggling with. The king cannot get past his first wife being unfaithful, and therefore he married and killed a wife every night, so I wanted to reflect the internal torture that he was going through in the set. With that, I created what I was taking from the show from King Shahryar’s point of view, but my hope is that I use my take on the show that will create a world in which the audience takes away their own interpretation – that may be something I didn’t even think of. Since I was looking at his from his perspective, I purposefully created the set to look incomplete as though the building was deteriorating, which directly reflects the deterioration of the kings mind. Then, I actually created the deterioration of the paint where the king is sitting, and the deterioration of the wall that is directly in his line of sight. The design fit the blocking because many of Scheherazade’s stories were focused of the completed part of the set, in the same way that her stories were taking his mind off of his internal pain. So not only is she telling these stories to save her life, but she is directing his vision to the strength and solid qualities of the finished structured part of the set.

How did you implement these ideas and tie them into the director’s vision?

James: I made it so that one side of the set was completed, beautiful, and solid. Then the wall broke down and faded to deterioration as well as the section of the floor where Shahryar sits, and it all just kind of came together with the blocking. The set deterioration ended up showing the tension that was constantly behind those beautiful stories that Scheherazade was using to save her and her sister’s lives. I also created a circular space because a circle is a universal idea. In every culture, we gather into circles to pass on tales. Everybody recognizes the circular form, and it is a way to invite the audience to be a part of those stories. One of the tricks that I like to use as a designer is to watch the director’s hand motions and they talk about their vision. Lee kept talking about this wall and making circular motions with his hands, so I decided to make a wall that wraps around the set. The idea of inviting the audience in was push further by putting hanging lanterns out in the house in order to make the audience feel as though they were sitting in the palace with us.

How did you move forward in this process with research?

James: I started looking up paint patterns, and architecture of palaces in Baghdad and the surrounding areas. I love working on shows that allow me to make the room look massive, and I tried to created a structure with pillars that loomed over the actors and the audiences. So I did a lot of research on those huge structures, and then did a lot of drafting so that my Technical Director, Byron, could successfully reproduce that in the space. The story-telling in this show is bigger than us, it expands into a world of fantasy, so I wanted the set to reflect that scale. I wanted to push the limits and challenge myself as well as my Technical Director, and he did an amazing job at creating my vision. He had to make sure my design would fit into the budget, and there were some elements that were not possible to complete within time and budget limits. Therefore, my design had to adapt throughout the process, but ultimately the decisions we made helped serve how we wanted to tell these stories.

Even though The Arabian Nights is complete, many people remember the beautiful technical elements of this show. MFA James Raymond still has two more years of hard work at WVU School of Theatre and Dance, and we look forward to everything else that he is going to create. Be sure to see more of his designs in our upcoming seasons, as well as the designs and performances of our many talented students and faculty.

Spring Dance Showcase 2016

All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted. For more information about ticketed events, call 304.293.SHOW. For information about any College of Creative Arts events, call the Publicity Office at 304.293.3397. Events on this calendar are subject to change. For the latest information, see our web calendar at http://ccarts.wvu.edu.

All College of Creative Arts programs, services, and activities are accessible to persons with disabilities. To request accommodations, call 304.293.4171.

Monday, April 25
WORKSHOP: The Bennett House
Two dozen students from West Virginia University’s School of Theatre and Dance will get the opportunity to help shepherd “Pride and Prejudice” to Broadway. The students will participate in a workshop production – of “The Bennett House” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, in the Vivian Davis Michael Theatre of the Creative Arts Center. “The Bennett House” is a new musical loosely based on Jane Austen’s beloved comedy of manners. The workshop is free and open to the public. Seating in the Vivian Davis Michael Theatre is limited, so audience members should plan to arrive early.

Tuesday, April 26
ART UP CLOSE: Shoji Satake
What does an Iznik pottery plate made in Asia Minor during the 17th century have in common with a plate made by a Chinese artist in 1999? How are they different? What materials and techniques did the artists use? These two works from the WVU Art Collection will be the subject of the Art Museum of WVU’s next Art Up Close event, to be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26. Shoji Satake, who is coordinator of the Ceramics Program in the WVU School of Art and Design, will compare and contrast the ceramic plate from 17th century Anatolia with a contemporary plate created by artist Yu Yong in 1999.

CONCERT: Chamber Winds
Chamber Winds ensemble will conclude their 2015-16 concert season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center. The concert is free and open to the public. John Weigand, professor of clarinet and director of the ensemble, will lead the woodwind ensemble in works by Carl Reinecke, Andre Caplet, and Antonin Dvořįk.

Wednesday, April 27
LUNCHTIME LOOK: Diego Rivera
Art Museum of WVU docent Art Jacknowitz will discuss a watercolor by Mexican artist Diego Rivera during the next Lunchtime Looks program on Wednesday, April 27. WVU students, faculty and staff, and the general public are invited to bring a brown bag lunch to the Museum Education Center Grand Hall at noon and meet with other art enthusiasts to enjoy their midday meal. At 12:30 p.m., the group will move to the Museum Classroom on the ground floor for a 20-minute, in-depth look at Rivera’s watercolor on rice paper.

SCREENING: Tough Love
A pair of School of Theatre & Dance alumni have taken success into their own hands, and they’re coming back to share their experiences in creating original content and the brave new world of digital distribution with students at their alma mater. They’ll screen all 6 episodes – of Season Three of “Tough Love” and host a question-and-answer session about creating original content and the wide range of new distribution channels at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center.

Thursday, April 28, and Friday, April 29
CONCERT: Spring Dance Showcase
Dance students have been building their Spring Dance Showcase from the ground up. The concerts will be held at 7 and 9 p.m. Thursday, April 28, and 7 and 9 p.m. Friday, April 29, in the Edna Falbo Theatre in WVU’s Creative Arts Center. For tickets and information, please contact the WVU Box Office at 304-293-SHOW.

Friday, April 29, through Sunday, May 1
LAB Theatre: There’s a Darkness Around Me That’s Flooded in Light
WVU’s LAB Theatre program will present a stage reading of School of Theatre and Dance student Woody Pond’s play, which, according to Pond, “tells the story of three swordsmen sitting on a couch, boozing and reminiscing as they attempt to pass the first stage of their final test – solving a SUPER HARD riddle.” Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the SLAB Theatre, 239A Creative Arts Center. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so audiences should arrive early.

Through Saturday, May 14
EXHIBITION: Bachelor of Fine Arts Show
Seniors graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree in the WVU College of Creative Arts will exhibit their final projects in the Creative Arts Center’s Mesaros Galleries, April 14 through May 14. The Mesaros Galleries will be open during the College of Creative Arts Commencement ceremony, to be held Friday, May 13, at 4 p.m. in the Lyell B. Clay Concert Theatre of the Creative Arts Center.

Through June 12
EXHIBITION: “Here to There”
Huntington area art lovers will get a chance to enjoy works by West Virginia University faculty members in an ongoing exhibition. “Here to There: An Exhibition of Work by WVU School of Art & Design Faculty” is on view at the Huntington Museum of Art through June 12.

Mark your calendars:

Ongoing

ART MUSEUM OF WVU: Exhibitions: Visual Conversations: Looking and Listening and Independent Vision: Self-Taught Artists from Appalachia
The Art Museum of WVU is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://artmuseum.wvu.edu.

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
This year, West Virginia University will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Visit http://artsandhumanities.wvu.edu for more information and a calendar of events.

WVU Students are work-shopping The Bennett House under the direction of Faculty Bryce Britton on Monday April 25th at 7:30 p.m.

The Bennett House is a new musical loosely based on Jane Austen’s beloved Pride and Predijuce. The story revolves around the conflict between the girls of Bennett House and the girls of Pemberley House, when the wealthy and handsome Bingley asks Jane of Bennett to the cotillion. Sparks fly between Elizabeth from Bennett House and Darcy or the Derby Academy (with the help of the girls of the House of Pemberley) as he tries to convince his house brother that Jane is not of their class. Book by KC Keene and Eric Dent; lyrics by KC Keene, Eric Dent and David Austin; and Music by David Austin

Eric C. Dente is a founding member of The Watermark ensemble as well as a member of The First Look Theatre Company at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts under the artistic Direction of Gary Garrison. Eric’s plays have been nominated for several awards and produced in theatres around the country. Eric has been a member of the Playwright’s unit at The Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. Eric has directed shows in New York and around the country including: The Denver Civic Theatre, The Nomad Theatre, aTa, New York Theatre Arts Center, The Play Group Theatre, Civic Center, Summerstage and for Compass Theatre Company.

David Austin is a New York based composer/lyricist/playwright, vocal/audition coach and actor. David has supplied the book and score to twenty-six original musicals, including the Broadway-aimed Finishing Arthur, Every Little Vow and (re)Visionist – the musical. He supplied the music to the musical, Beaches (pre-Broadway, Spring of 2015). David has over twenty year’s professional teaching/coaching experience. He has coached many of Broadway’s finest, including this year’s Cindy Lou-Who in Madison Square Garden’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. As a member of Actor’s Equity since age seven, David brings a wealth spring of practical, comprehensive real-world knowledge to help you tap into your unique individuality, enabling you to stand out in every audition. As an actor, he originated the role of Jeff Bennet in the original off-Broadway production and on the cast album of I Love You Because. Other notable roles: The American – Chess, Pippin – Pippin, Jack – Into the Woods, Ben – Rags, Sean -The Wedding Banquet and Charlie – Brigadoon. David has starred opposite Stephanie d’Abruzzo, Eden Espinosa and Kelli O’Hara and has toured the U.S. and China.

23 students from the BFA’s of Musical Theatre, Acting and Design and Technology have been involved work-shopping the book for this new musical. Author and WVU Alumni KC Keene and Eric E. Dente have been in town, rewriting the book and will be coming back this week with a third (or possibly fourth) draft and to see the reading.

A reading of the fresh script will be held on Monday, April 25th at 7:30pm in the VDM, followed by a question and answer session with the writers, director and cast.
Admission is free, but seating is limited so arrive early to catch this fresh new musical in process.

For more information on this show contact – bennett.house.musical@gmail.com

Terese Giobbia

A pair of West Virginia University alumni have taken success into their own hands, and they’re coming back to share their experiences in creating original content and the brave new world of digital distribution with students their alma mater.

Steven Bell and Blaire Wendel, who both earned Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting from WVU’s School of Theatre & Dance in 2011, have been hard at work for the past three years on their web comedy series, ”Tough Love.” After raising over $18,000 on Kickstarter for their third season, Bell and Wendel have been hard at work for the past year on their new season.

Last week, they premiered the season’s first episode on Vimeo, and the response has been incredible. 

“We’ve had over 11,000 views in five days,” said Bell. “There have been features in the Huffington Post, on NewNowNext, and in OUT Magazine.” They’ve also received an invitation to appear in Wicked Queer: The Boston LGBT Film Festival. Let’s just say, these two Mountaineers are slowly taking the New York comedy scene by storm. 

Bell, a Wheeling native, and Wendel, originally from Perry Hall, Md., will visit WVU’s College of Creative Arts April 27-28. They’ll screen all 6 episodes of Season Three of “Tough Love” and host a question-and-answer session about creating original content and the wide range of new distribution channels at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, in the Gladys G. Davis Theatre of the Creative Arts Center. They’ll also meet with acting students during their visit, which is part of the College’s Alumni in Residence series.

“It blows my mind that we’ve come this far,” said Bell. ”Less than five years ago we were packing our bags in Morgantown to move to New York. Now are faces are on OUT.com’s main page.” 

Bell has taken care to make sure the third season is top notch. 

“This season has a ton of guest stars,” he explained. “We had the opportunity to work with actors who have guest starred on shows like Inside Amy Schumer, Broad City, Louie, and Difficult People, to name a few. I used to think that this was just a silly show that Blaire and I did for fun. Now we’re passing our scripts off to agents, and pitching the show to TV networks. It’s all very exciting. We’re not sure where the show is headed next, but we’re so excited and proud of what we’ve created.”

You can check out Tough Love’s Two Part Season Three Premiere on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/159786511 https://vimeo.com/160490133

pemberley-photo Two dozen students from West Virginia University’s School of Theatre and Dance will get the opportunity to help shepherd “Pride and Prejudice” to Broadway. The students will participate in a workshop production of “The Bennett House” at 7:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, in the Vivian Davis Michael Theatre of the Creative Arts Center.

“The Bennett House” is a new musical loosely based on Jane Austen’s beloved comedy of manners.

“The story revolves around the conflict between the girls of Bennett House and the girls of Pemberley House, when the wealthy and handsome Bingley asks Jane Bennett to the cotillion,” said Bryce Britton, assistant professor of musical theatre at WVU.

WVU students in musical theatre, acting, and design and technology have been involved in the workshop process for this new musical. Playwright and WVU alumni K.C. Keene and co-author Eric Dente have visited Morgantown, rewriting the book. They’ll come back Monday with a third draft.

The book of “The Bennett House” is by Keene and Dente, with lyrics by Keene, Dente, and David Austin. Music is by David Austin, and the workshop production will be directed by Britton.

The workshop is free and open to the public. Seating in the Vivian Davis Michael Theatre is limited, so audience members should plan to arrive early.