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The Magic of Monomoy
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Support

In recent years, individuals and groups like the Friends of Monomoy have provided resources for the theater, allowing upgrades to be made to its electrical systems, seating, sound and lighting systems, air conditioning and for other needed maintenance projects. If you're interested in supporting Ohio University's continued commitment to the Monomoy Theatre, please choose one of the following options:

Over the Phone:
1-800-592-FUND (3863)

Through E-mail:giving@ohio.edu

On the Web:
Campaign Giving

By Mail:
The Ohio University Foundation
P.O Box 869
Athens, OH 45701-0869

Artwork

Watercolor (above) by Jan Lange Miller

 

May 19, 2003
Cape Cod landmark is an Ohio University tradition
By Joseph Hughes

While Ohio University officially boasts five regional campuses, the nearly 200-year-old institution transcends traditional, brick-and-mortar learning centers. In fact, students receive their "Ohio University education" around the globe, around the clock.

A perfect example of the University's efforts outside the classroom is the College of Fine Arts and School of Theater's relationship with the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham, Mass., a picturesque Cape Cod destination. Each summer - for the last 46 summers - the Ohio University Players produce eight shows, ranging from Shakespeare to Neil Simon.

Video - Click to PlayEach year, the Monomoy Theatre houses a group of graduate and undergraduate students comprising the Players. One of the nation's few remaining university-run seasonal theaters - and also the Cape's second-oldest summer theater - the Monomoy allows students to gain professional experience by acting, directing, set design, technical work and box-office management.

"The Monomoy is very strongly related to Ohio University," says School of Theater director Paul Castagno. "It is treated with a great deal of respect, not only in the area, but also by professionals in the industry. Our students receive invaluable professional training there. Many of our alumni spend each summer enjoying the plays."

It was 46 summers ago the Monomoy Theatre first became linked to Ohio University. In 1958, Elizabeth Baker - wife of then-President John C. Baker - purchased the Monomoy Theatre property, leasing it to the University for use as an educational training center.

Prior to the purchase, the Monomoy had been a community arts center in the 1930s. Under owner Mary Winslow's guidance, the Monomoy Theatre became home to a highly regarded professional company during the 1940s and 1950s.

When Winslow died in 1957, the theater's future was cloudy at best - until Baker's purchase one year later, a decision highlighted in A History of the Monomoy Theatre, written by Robert Hannon Davis, MFA '84.

Since their birth in 1958, the Ohio University Players have delighted audiences with their diverse selection of summer performances. The 2003 season is no different, as the Players' summer season begins with Cole Porter's "Kiss Me Kate." Other highlights include Agatha Christie's "The Mouse Trap," Simon's "Biloxi Blues" and Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."

"When (Monomoy artistic director) Alan Rust pitched this summer's season to the Friends of Monomoy (a local support organization for the theater), he did so by first using the authors rather than the titles," Castagno says. "And he got a great reaction. This is a real winner for the students who have to move quickly from style to style and still make it happen for audiences with a minimum of rehearsal time."

Each of the Players' eight shows enjoys a five-day run, beginning Tuesdays and ending Saturdays - complete with select matinees. Eight shows in 12 weeks means an extremely rigorous schedule. The Players have two weeks to rehearse a show; moreover, they must prepare for the next two works while performing the current selection.

To that end, becoming an Ohio University Player is quite an honor. Each winter, Rust, MFA '73, holds tryouts on the Athens campus. Those selected to spend the summer in Massachusetts spend the spring preparing for their roles or designing sets or costumes for their productions. When summer comes, they live and eat in a theater compound on Chatham's Main Street.

"I'm looking for someone who is committed to their craft, ready to do intensive work and continue building at Ohio University," Rust says. "The Monomoy Theatre is their summer school - they will be graded. However, they will also receive invaluable hands-on training in a unique setting."

Each Player usually plays six or seven roles over the summer, while designers and costumers typically work on four shows per season. Everyone also benefits from working with accomplished theater professionals.

John Hashop is one such individual. Hashop, MFA '04, will be spending his second straight summer in Chatham. "It's a great opportunity for a developing actor to be able to work with established, professional actors and directors from New York," Hashop says. "Not only for the experience we gain on stage, but also for the little things you learn. How to find an agent. Or a place to live in New York City.

"It's an invaluable experience."

Noted alumni who have shared the Monomoy experience include Michael John McGann, BFA '73 (Broadway's "Annie"), Matthew Glave, 'BFA '87, (NBC's "ER") and Fred Duer, BGS '77 and MFA '82, (set design for "Fresh Prince of Bel Air"). Each cut their teeth during a summer spent at the Monomoy Theatre, which itself benefits from its Chatham location.

"The Monomoy Theatre benefits from being in a community comprising many patrons of the arts," Rust says. "They really enjoy the classic material we assemble. We sell out most every performance. It's a marvelous marriage between town and gown in Chatham. There is no place in the country that does this kind of work in an educational setting."

Hashop, an actor playing the lead role in Moliere's "Tartuffe" this summer, agrees.

"It's amazing there," he says, beaming. "The weather is so beautiful. Everyone in Chatham is so happy to have us there, especially the Friends of Monomoy. They often invite the entire company to their houses for lunch!"

The Friends of Monomoy help in other ways, too, such as providing fellowships to performers intended to attract top talent to Chatham. In the past, the Friends have also helped raise money for refurbishments made to the theater itself.

"The Monomoy is a really unique venue," says Castagno. "It has become a very important part of the fabric of the School of Theater and also Ohio University."

Thanks to the foresight of Elizabeth Baker - and the talented Players who bring each work to life - the Monomoy Theatre promises to remain important to the University for years to come.

Joseph Hughes is a writer for University Communications and Marketing

 

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