"Ravenous" - A world premiere eats up the stage at Fairfield University September 20, 21, 22


RavenousFairfield University presents the world premiere of "Ravenous," an ensemble-created work initiated, co-directed and performed by Jon Micheels Leiseth, assistant professor at the university. The show runs Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 20, 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. in the Wien Experimental Theatre at the Quick Center for the Arts. The performances are the culmination of a weeklong residency with "Ravenous" cast members, during which Fairfield theater students will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop with the professional troupe that focuses on ensemble-creation of original theater performance. In addition, the ensemble will attend theater classes and will enjoy an audience talkback after each show.

Through the dynamic retelling of the meteoric rise and fall of each of Henry VIII's six wives, "Ravenous" brings to life a deadly competition. The seven-member ensemble does its best to please the king, a character who this lively group has unexpectedly designated as the audience. With this convention firmly in place, the exploration of power, gender and survival becomes an inevitable theatrical roller coaster ride. Audience participation in the crucial role of the king, informs a playful tone that allows for inventive perspectives on history. Leiseth describes "Ravenous" as "a theatrical martini laced with love, shaken not stirred."

Leiseth joined the Fairfield University faculty in the fall of 2006 and, in addition to his teaching responsibilities in the theater program in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts, he acted the role of God last year in Fairfield alumnus Jared Mezzocchi's "The One Stoplight in Hollis." His teaching focus is on acting with a specialization in the ensemble-creation of original theatre performance, also known as "devising."

"Since 'Ravenous' is an example of a devised production - co-authored by the performers as opposed to a singular playwright - I see it as the perfect way to introduce my work locally. I look forward to developing a professional ensemble-creation right here in the Fairfield area," Leiseth states, "And," he continues, "my hope is that the show will draw out potential future collaborators."

Leiseth secured funding for "Ravenous" through The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences and Theatre Fairfield, the producing arm of the theater program at Fairfield University. The funding makes possible the weeklong artistic residency, which includes class visits, a workshop, performances, an opening night reception and performance talkbacks.

Sarah Gatti, a Fairfield sophomore, was invited by Leiseth to participate in the creation and performance of the "Ravenous" ensemble. As a winner of one of the Mary Louise Larrabee Prizes that are presented to a select group of students majoring or minoring in the arts at Fairfield's Department of Visual and Performing Arts, Gatti was able to pay for her expenses to travel to Minneapolis where "Ravenous" was developed during the summer of 2007. "Sarah dove into the project with playfulness, integrity and a terrific ability to see with great clarity!" Leiseth commented.

Fairfield students will have the opportunity to further explore ensemble-creation with the final show of the Theatre Fairfield season. In April, Leiseth will direct "dis/connect," a devised production. The "dis/connect" company will concurrently enroll in a course that focuses on ensemble-creation methods. A development team comprised of Fairfield students and faculty members are already working with Leiseth to further define the project.

Tickets are $12 for general admission, $6 for seniors and university staff, $5 for students and can be purchased online at www.quickcenter.com or by calling the Box Office at (203) 254-4010. The toll free number is 1-877-ARTS-396. For further information, please visit the website at www.quickcenter.com.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on August 24, 2007

Vol. 40, No. 25