Barry McNamara  |  Published October 24, 2022

Theatre’s Ambitious Schedule

Department chair Vanessa Campagna previews the remainder of College’s 2022-23 season.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College’s first staging of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in more than 70 years set a high bar for the rest of the 2022-23 theatre season, but there are still three full-length productions to try and top it.

VANESA CAMPAGNA: Department chair is in his ninth year on Monmouth's theatre faculty. VANESA CAMPAGNA: Department chair is in his ninth year on Monmouth's theatre faculty.The fact that Monmouth’s theatre department will stage four plays during an academic year is impressive, said department chair Vanessa Campagna.

“A lot of schools our size are not doing four mainstage, full-length works a year,” she said. “We want our students to come out of college with a minimum of 16 résumé credits, if they’re a major.”

The fall semester still has one production to go, David Auburn’s Proof, which will be performed Nov. 18-20 in Wells Theater. Two productions are scheduled for the spring semester – George Bernard Shaw’s Candida Feb. 24-26 and a musical adaptation of The Little Mermaid April 20-23, which will be a joint project with the Buchanan Center for the Arts in downtown Monmouth.

“We are committed to career preparedness, and we know that we have the time, the resources, the energy and the heart to pour into every single one of our students,” said Campagna of the ambitious production schedule. “We take them wherever they are on Day One, nurture their talents, and provide them with skills. … If they readily commit to this process, our students won’t be starving artists, so to speak.”

Proof: Nov. 18-20

Proof, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play, will be overseen by students in Monmouth’s “Principles of Directing” class, which Campagna teaches with department colleague Todd Quick.

“Students are reengaging their script analysis skills from a previous class, really mining the text to see what’s going on,” said Campagna. “We’re wrestling with some big questions about life, legacy, identity and the pursuit of truth. What truths are we willing to accept? Where does trust fit in when something hasn’t yet been proven?”

THE 2022-23 SEASON: The first of the four productions was a well-received staging of one of Shake... THE 2022-23 SEASON: The first of the four productions was a well-received staging of one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. It was the first time it had been staged at the College in more than 70 years.Candida: Feb. 24-26

After Christmas break, theatre students will be found in the halls of the College’s Haldeman-Thiessen Science Center preparing to stage Shaw’s famous comedy. The building has not seen daily use since the Center for Science and Business was completed in 2013. The department will be preparing for the first production in the building since it housed the WIT Theatre more than a decade ago.

“We knew that moving out of the (downtown) Fusion Theatre was the right move for the institution and for our pedagogical purposes,” said Campagna. “We needed to find a second space, so we’re really grateful to the administration and to the facilities crew for coming together and making this new space happen for us. H-T is actually quite important to our department now. We’re excited to see how flexible we can make it.”

In addition to the new black box space, the department moved its scenic and props storage to H-T.

“Shaw is challenging – he’s a very text-dense playwright,” said Campagna of the winter production. “Shakespeare was a master of the English language and Shaw is very similar in the regard that the text really has a lot of primacy in the play world, so it will be a great challenge for our students to deal with a truly realistic play that’s language dense.”

The Little Mermaid: April 20-23

For the fourth and final production of the season, the College and the Buchanan Center will stage the Disney musical The Little Mermaid in Wells Theater.

“It will be a huge cast, probably around 40 or 50, and I’m excited for that,” said Campagna. “Ages 10 and upward to no limit. That’ll be a really large-scale production, a big-time musical, all the bells and whistles.”

In addition to a twist on how matters resolve between the characters Ariel and Ursula, Campagna said some new music was written for the musical.

“Intrigued by the idea of a tap-dancing seagull? Mark your calendars! … There’s just a little something for everybody in The Little Mermaid. Vanessa Campagna

“I think it’s quite wonderful,” she said. “Scuttle, in particular, has some really amusing new music. Intrigued by the idea of a tap-dancing seagull? Mark your calendars! … There’s just a little something for everybody in The Little Mermaid. Although the show targets the community and family-friendly audiences, there is wit and innuendo that caters to adult patrons.”

The Little Mermaid will complete what the department chair believes will be another enriching season for Monmouth’s theatre students.

“I’m very proud to work here,” said Campagna, who’s in her ninth year on Monmouth’s faculty. “I am truly so proud of who we are, what we do and where we’re going. The experience we provide students, time and again, is at the top of that list.”

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