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July 12, 2012
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SRU adds Edinburgh Festival Fringe play

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. -The Slippery Rock University theatre presence will be twice as large this year when 15 students fly to Scotland to present two plays Aug. 4-11 at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. While SRU has participated in the festival since 2006, the University has never been invited to perform two plays.

"They really like us and feel that we produce really good work each time," said David Skeele, SRU professor of theatre, who is traveling with students to Scotland. He said participation offers a once-in-a lifetime educational opportunity.

"There is so much about this that is life changing for the students," he said. "Once they do this, students start looking at their lives in terms of before Scotland and after Scotland. They're going to a new place and culture, not as a tourist, but as a performing artist who has something to share with people, and they are getting to see all these theatre companies from around the world. It's pretty mind blowing."

Students will perform "The Barwell Prophecy," written by Skeele, and "Acts of Contrition," written by Patricia Montley. Montley has taught playwriting at colleges and universities in Pittsburgh and Baltimore and has placed in more than 20 playwriting competitions. She won the playwriting contest for the Kaleidoscope Arts Festival, SRU's annual arts festival.

Laura Smiley, SRU associate professor of theatre, will direct "Acts of Contrition."

This year's Festival Fringe runs Aug. 3-27 and will include theatre, comedy, opera, dance, musicals and art exhibitions. It is expected to draw more than a million people.

One of the challenges for SRU students is organizing their own personal belongings as well as costumes, lighting grids and set items.

"Everything has to be brought over in boxes. It is part of the big challenge," Skeele said. "Every second suitcase contains show items; students are told to bring one bag of their own and one bag of show stuff."

Skeele said students would perform "The Barwell Prophecy" in the basement of a church. They made 60 fliers they will hand out to help build an audience.

Steele said the supernatural horror play takes place in the office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Terror and paranoia erupt as something ancient and malignant begins to stir behind the walls. This forces federal agents trapped in the building to do battle with a new kind of terror.

"It is one of the most terrifying things I have ever written," Skeele said.

Aniela Schaefer, a theatre major from Greensburg, said she has always dreamed of going to Scotland and appreciates the educational value of the experience. She is the costume designer for "The Barwell Prophecy."

"The Festival Fringe is one of those experiences that can make or break you in the theatre world, so to be able to go and present your work as a professional in the field while still a student is an amazing opportunity," she said. "We will be able to go and watch performances from around the world and observe different styles and types of theatre covered in class."

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, one of the largest arts festivals in the world, takes place for three weeks every August. The fringe dates to 1947, when eight theatre groups turned up to perform at the newly formed festival.

SRU students participating in the program are:

Luke Chamberlain, a theatre major from Latrobe

Kevin Moore, a social work major from Aliquippa

Amanda Tarr, a dance major from Lower Burrell

Ashley Orsino, a theatre major from Royersford

Dejah Abraham, a theatre major from Bethlehem

Alex Barnhart, a theatre major from Butler

Charlene Jacka, a communication major from Oakmont

Zach Durler, a communication major from Cranberry

Aniela Schaefer, a theatre major from Greensburg

Zoe Prokopiak, a physics major from Santa Barbara, Calif.

Liam Nute, a theatre major from Aliquippa

Nick Edwards, a marketing major from New Brighton

Ethan Rochow, a theatre major from West Middlesex

Chelsey Grossman, a theatre major from Slippery Rock.

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