Berea College Theatre Celebrates 125 Years

BC Theatre, Celebrating 125 Years

The Berea College Theatre is celebrating its 125th Anniversary during the 2017-18 season. What began with a reading of Hamlet in 1892, the Theatre’s presence at Berea College has been a critical element to the academic and co-curricular lives of students.

From memories of the old Tab Theatre, to the Phoenix Theatre after the Tab’s fire, to the current Jelkyl Drama Center, the Theatre has endured and flourished.

“The theme for this year is ‘standing on the shoulders of Giants,’ taken from a quote by Sir Isaac Newton in a letter he wrote to Robert Hooke,” said Deborah Martin, Chair of the Theatre Department. “This year, we celebrate the Giants who have come before us, specifically our alumni, previous faculty and staff, and administrators, who have contributed immeasurable talent, support, and creativity so that we can enjoy a strong, vibrant, and still-growing Theatre program.”

Save the Date

Enjoy the theatrical talents of fellow alumni during Homecoming weekend (Nov. 17-19) and catch a show of Green Day’s rock opera, American Idiot,  Fri. and Sat., Nov. 17-18, both at 8 p.m. in the McGaw Theatre in the Jelkyl Drama Center. American Idiot is directed by Jessica Slaton Green ’07 and Emmanuel Stokes ’08, scenery and costumes by Ami Shupe ‘91, lighting by Lacey Gresham ’11 and stage managed by Sam Jenkins ’09.  To reserve or purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 859-985-3300. See the most up-to-date Homecoming schedule, register and pre-order your T-shirt here!

This season of plays have been selected to be worthy of such a celebration. The season opens with George C. Wolfe’s satiric and powerful The Colored Museum. This play has agitated and delighted audiences of all colors, redefining our ideas of what it means to be black in contemporary America. Its eleven “exhibits” unearth black stereotypes old and new, and return to the facts of what being black means. Said Frank Rich of The New York Times, “Mr. Wolfe is the kind of satirist who takes no prisoners. The shackles of the past have been defied by Mr. Wolfe’s fearless humor, and it’s a most liberating revolt!” Performances of The Colored Museum are 8:00 pm October 13, 14, 15-18.

American Idiot, the rock musical that “gives voice to the disenfranchised suburban underclass of Americans who feel wholly unrepresented by the current leadership” (Joe Colapinto, Rolling Stone), opens November 10. A critical success on Broadway and in London, the two-time 2010 Tony Award winning musical tells the story of three lifelong friends, forced to choose between their dreams and the safety of suburbia. Based on Green Day’s Grammy Award-winning multi-platinum album, American Idiot boldly takes the American musical where it’s never gone before. Performances are 8:00 pm November 10, 11, 15-18.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which both celebrates a musical legend while also calling attention to the racist conditions in which she flourished, opens February 16 for a limited run. Featuring an all-alumni cast of current theatre professionals, this story takes place in 1927 in a rundown studio in Chicago. Famed blues singer Ma Rainey is recording a new version of an old favorite. What really happens in this musical session is a riveting portrayal of rage, racism, self-loathing, and exploitation. “Wilson has lighted a dramatic fuse that snakes and hisses through several anguished eras of American life.” Frank Rich, The New York Times. Berea’s performances of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom runs 8:00 pm February 16 and 17; and 2:00 pm February 18.

Concluding Berea’s Mainstage season is William Shakespeare’s magical play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a play filled with fantasy and wonder. One of the most produced of Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is complete with love, fancy, betrayal, and misdirected affection – all controlled by the fairies who populate the forest. This is a play for lovers and dreamers. A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens 8:00 pm April 13, and runs 8:00 pm April 14, 18-21.

All performances take place in the McGaw Theatre, Jelkyl Drama Center.

Season tickets are on sale now at $25 each – a savings of nearly 40 percent off the single ticket price. Season and single tickets are available by calling the Box Office at 859-985-3300.

Categories: News, Places, Programs and Initiatives
Tags: alumni, faculty, homecoming, Theatre Department

Berea College, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor and service. The College only admits academically promising students with limited financial resources—primarily from Kentucky and Appalachia—but welcomes students from 41 states and 76 countries. Every Berea student receives a Tuition Promise Scholarship, which means no Berea student pays for tuition. Berea is one of nine federally recognized Work Colleges, so students work 10 hours or more weekly to earn money for books, housing and meals. The College’s motto, “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth,” speaks to its inclusive Christian character.