The Department of Theatre at Fairmont State University has a long history of producing outstanding performances, and that excellence is being recognized this month. For the first time, an FSU production has reached the finals in the Region 2 competition of the Kennedy Center/ American College Theatre Festival. The FSU production to be featured is Bernard Pomerance’s “The Elephant Man,” directed by Jeffrey Ingman, Assistant Professor of Theatre.
“The selection of ‘The Elephant Man’ for inclusion in the regional festival of the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival is quite an honor for Fairmont State University and the School of Fine Arts,” said Peter Lach, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. “Colleges and universities from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia are part of this region. The selection of our production is a testament to the high quality of theatrical production being produced at FSU.”
Originally on stage in the fall of 2011, “The Elephant Man” will be offered for performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12, in Wallman Hall on the FSU main campus to allow the public another opportunity to see the show. Admission to both performances will be on a pay-what-you-can basis with proceeds going toward the costs for participation in the festival.
In each of the seven regions in the nation, adjudicators are invited to attend performances and, in turn, invite a few chosen productions to compete in their regional festival. The initial competition consists of between 40 to 50 productions, which is winnowed to 15 semi-finalists, and then, at the end, eight finalists. FSU is one of the eight finalists for the Region 2 festival, which will be held at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Saturday, Jan. 14.
In addition, three FSU students have won meritorious awards: Matt Snyder of Falling Waters for lighting and Cora Childress of Parkersburg for costumes for the FSU production of “Cabaret,” and Lakyn Arrick of New Martinsville for her costumes for “The Elephant Man.” Also, six FSU students have been nominated for the Irene Ryan Acting Award: Bruce McGlumphy of Burton, Jeremiah Ripley of Wheeling and Lillian Gaylord of Martinsburg for “The Elephant Man”; Cecily Collins of Birch River and Tyler Kovar of Farmington for “Cabaret,” with Rennes Carbaugh of Martinsburg, also from “Cabaret,” as alternate.
“This cast has worked very hard on a very difficult play that is not produced that often because it has so many challenges for the actors. I am proud that the student actors at Fairmont State have the dedication and talent to tackle this material and do such a good job,” Ingman said.
“The Elephant Man” is based on the life of John Merrick, who lived in London during the latter part of the 19th century. A horribly deformed young man, victim of rare skin and bone diseases, Merrick becomes the star attraction in traveling side shows. Later, found abandoned and helpless, he is admitted to London’s prestigious Whitechapel hospital. Under the care of celebrated young physician Frederick Treves, Merrick is introduced to London society and slowly evolves from an object of pity to an urbane and witty favorite of the aristocracy and literati — only to be denied his ultimate dream, to become a man like any other. “The Elephant Man” was winner of numerous Tony Awards including Best Play.