PRESS RELEASE: UMass Lowell Students Help MRT Develop World Premiere

CONTACT: Kate Brandt,
PR CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
BOX OFFICE: 978-654-4678

UMass Lowell Students Help MRT Develop World Premiere

Week-long workshop scheduled for next week

Lowell, MAMerrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) will begin a new phase of its longtime partnership with the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) next week. The two institutions will be working together to workshop a new play. The play, “Home of the Brave,” is written by Boston playwright Lila Rose Kaplan and will be directed by MRT’s artistic director Sean Daniels. University students will be paired with professional theatre artists as they collectively work through the play over the course of the week-long workshop. The project will culminate with an invited reading on Saturday, October 17 at 7:30 pm in O’Leary Library Room 222 on the University’s South Campus.

The workshop will allow the playwright, director and designers to make discoveries about the play and fine tune their plans for the world premiere full production, which closes MRT’s 2015-16 Season (April 20 – May 15, 2016). “Home of the Brave” is a raucous farce about presidential campaigns. It focuses on Senator Bernadette Spence, who is ready to run for president, and now has to get her family on board. She returns to her Iowa home for the holidays with her dashing British campaign manager at her side.

Two UML students will take on the roles of the college-age characters in “Home of the Brave,” while others will serve as the workshop Stage Manager and designers. Additionally, some students will shadow the playwright, director and professional actors, including well-known Boston actor Karen MacDonald, who will be playing the role of the Senator in both the workshop and the full production.

Sean Daniels made deepening the theatre’s connection with UML one of the goals of his first year at the helm of MRT. He said, “The idea that two of the premiere organizations in Lowell are partnering to workshop a local playwright feels like a huge step forward for the region. It's an opportunity for us to share our expertise and processes with the students, to provide them with real world contacts and experiences AND be inspired by them as we all collectively build up the region and develop Lila Rose's hilarious new play.”

Dale Young, Assistant Professor Theatre at UML has been involved in the planning of the workshop from the beginning. He commented, “The Theatre Arts faculty and students at UML are very excited about this expansion of our collaborative relationship with MRT. It's extremely exciting for us to be a part of the changes happening and we look forward to deepening our relationship with MRT with great anticipation.  The workshopping experience is an integral part of the theatrical production process. To have the opportunity for our students to both observe and actively participate in the pre-performance workshop at a professional level is a tremendous way for them to gain further insight into the many, many positions, opportunities and creative processes available to them in the profession of theatre. Students will literally be able to be at the table and play a part in making the magic of theatre happen, then be able to say to fellow audience members ‘I played a part in the creation of what you are seeing here tonight!’ It is a tremendous opportunity!”

UMass Lowell and Merrimack Repertory Theatre have a long history of working together to enhance the cultural landscape Lowell and the surrounding area. UML has been a Production Sponsor of an MRT production each season since 2004, including “I and You” which opens at MRT this week. In addition, MRT staff and visiting artists will be acting as guest speakers in classes throughout the university over the course of the year. In the early days of MRT, the company performed in the now-named Comley-Lane Theatre in UML’s Mahoney Hall.  Comley-Lane is now the main stage of the university’s theatre arts program.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. The company is known for its high production standards and for creating compelling new plays and regional premieres that reflect the lives and emotions of its audiences. MRT is one of just three theatres in Massachusetts that is a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), which has 72 members nationwide.

MRT 2015-16 SEASON
“The Lion”, written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer
August 26 – September 20, 2015

“I and You” by Lauren Gunderson
October 7 – November 1, 2015

“It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” adapted by Joe Landry
November 25 – December 20, 2015

“The White Chip” by Sean Daniels
January 6 – 31, 2015

“Tinker to Evers to Chance by Mat Smart
February 10 – March 6, 2016

“The Realness: a break beat play” by Idris Goodwin
March 16 – April 10, 2016

“Home of the Brave” by Lila Rose Kaplan
April 20 – May 15, 2016

Merrimack Repertory Theatre
Performance Space: The Nancy L. Donahue Theatre
(In Liberty Hall, adjacent to Lowell Memorial Auditorium)
50 E. Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
Box Office: 978-654-4678