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A Look Into the Moravian College Theatre Company

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“We have a theater?” is usually people’s first response to someone talking about the Theatre Company. The next question tends to be, “Where is it?”

Yes, indeed, we do have a theater, and it is located in the lower level of the HUB, next to the bookstore.

The Moravian College Theatre Company has been active since 1908. The company was formed by the school’s baseball and basketball players in an effort to raise funds for their teams. It was, and still is, run by students.

The company’s officers are Kelsie Lynn ‘19, company manager; Dalton Hornberger ‘20, facilities manager; and Leanna Talotta-Altenburg ‘18, publicity manager. The theatre seasons are largely determined by student proposals at the end of each year. Professor Christopher Shorr, theater director, oversees this process, but ultimately the production selections are left in the hands of the students.

Shorr has been involved with the theatre company since 2008. He simultaneously directs various shows throughout the semesters, and oversees classes, and the company, as a whole. His favorite shows are run by the students, which happens frequently.

“You can feel the difference,” Shorr said. “There’s a dynamism exuded when students really own the work. You can feel the pride.”

These aforementioned officers are comprised of a wide variety of students from diverse majors and backgrounds. Since Moravian does not offer a major in theatre, all are welcome to participate–even professors and alumni.

“It seems like all sorts of people find a home here,” Shorr said. “There’s also something special about a company at a college without a lot of theatre majors. Students with all different levels of experience — including no experience at all — can and do get involved.”

Dr. Christopher Jones, a professor of biology at Moravian, has been a part of the Theatre Company since 2005. He has been in over 25 shows, both acting and directing, as well as helping with stage crew.

“For me, theater is a chance to take a break from science teaching and research, and exercise some other intellectual and artistic muscles,” Jones said. “The program at Moravian is special because of the people who are passionate about what we do and dedicated to bringing so many interesting, challenging, and entertaining pieces to life, and the audiences who are willing to take a chance with us to explore a wide range of theatrical works and reflect on what they tell us about who we are and who we might be.”

There are a number of ways to get involved in theatre besides acting, since the company does three different kinds of productions every semester: readings, workshops, and full productions. For a reading, the cast and crew are only allowed to have five rehearsals, tech and budget are minimal, and the actors have their scripts in their hands for the performance.

Meanwhile, a full production is a five-week process with full tech and full budget. All of these require a number of people ranging from actors to directors to stage managers to crew members; for anyone who may be interested, the door is always open.

A workshop is a one-day commitment where company members, as well as anyone who is interested, can learn different theatrical skills from professional companies and organizations.

Lynn, who has been with the company since her freshman year, is the main stage manager for many of the shows this season, and she does some acting as well. She loves the diversity and community elements the theatre brings.

“The theatre has the power to bring a diverse group of people together onstage and as an audience,” Lynn said. “It offers an opportunity to address societal wounds with a simple format but a profound message. Theatre as an institution has been around for 4,000 years and has had to fight to survive, but has always persevered. It is so hard to describe the joy I feel after putting together a show that I know will make a difference in the way people think about a certain issue or topic.”

Gallery manager Jillian McLuhan ‘20, agreed about the company’s diversity. McLuhan has been involved with the company since her freshman year as well and has acted in almost all the productions since then.

“I do theatre at Moravian because I thoroughly enjoy being a part of the productions. I do it because I enjoy it and the intimate environment that is MCTC [Moravian College Theater Company] makes it inclusive and inviting. We have so many willing and talented people involved [this year] and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the Theatre Company,” she said.

Talotta-Altenburg, who is a non-traditional commuter student, drives an hour every day to help in any way she can, including acting and directing multiple shows.

“My favorite part of this company is that it is student-driven and that students are encouraged to be involved as much as they want to be and as time permits,” said Talotta-Altenburg. “I also enjoy when faculty come to participate and patron the theatre. It really brings about a sense of community on campus and fosters an awareness of our very existence and collective purpose.”

Starting this Thursday, Oct. 19, MCTC will be performing Bertolt Brecht’s “The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui.” Brecht’s satire allegorizes the rise of Hitler, which Brecht witnessed firsthand. The play’s main character, Arturo Ui, is a two-bit thug from New York who manipulates his way into politics in Chicago. If you have ever wondered what fascism and the rise of Hitler would be like set in 1930’s gangster Chicago, come find out this weekend.

The show’s broad cast of characters is portrayed by a small ensemble of actors, many of them playing up to six or seven roles. Performance dates are Oct. 19, 20, and 21 at 8:00 p.m. and October 22 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for seniors, $5 for Moravian faculty and staff, and students pay what you will at the door. Click here to purchase tickets.  

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One Response to “A Look Into the Moravian College Theatre Company”

  1. Joyce Hinnefeld on October 20th, 2017 1:54 pm

    So great to learn about the history of MCTC! Thanks for this informative article, Kayleigh.

    [Reply]

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