Our Performance Curriculum is inspired by concepts and techniques from Stanislavski, Strasberg (Moscow Art Theater) Kazan, Hagen and Meisner. Movement such as stage combat, Alexander Technique, mask work and Linklater Voice training. The Design and Production Curriculum applies classic art and design techniques with new technologies to help students find their own path in conceptualizing stage designs in Costuming, Scenery, Lighting, and Sound.
At Jewell Theatre the word “Company” is central. Since recently becoming the Director of Theatre, I decided we needed a new way of describing this group of artists that come together to create theatre. So we now identify ourselves as Jewell Theatre Company. This allows us to communicate that we are a group of artists that has great respect for each other, and works together to produce quality live theatre for our audiences. Students who elect to major or minor in Theatre are automatically part of the company, but they are not the only ones who enjoy the benefits. We have students from many majors who join the company because they love and appreciate theatre. All are welcome to audition for our shows, work on our crews, try for talent scholarships or apply for jobs in the Federal Work-Study program. We are open to collaborating with artists of all levels of skill.
With the help of Artist in Residence, Professor Natasha Martin, Jewell Theatre has already stepped out to make a new name for itself with our fall production of A Murder of Crows by Mac Wellman. This performance stretched both our company members and our audiences. We tried out new projection technologies through the use of Apple TV, and our new large format projector. Cast members learned about Physical Theatre and created some amazing ensemble work. Two performers were given the opportunity to learn some acrobatic work and with harness and fall protection equipment “danced” above the audience on a cargo net hung from the catwalk. The stage was built with ramps like a skate park allowing for the lead female to make her entrance onto stage on a skateboard. Both performers and technicians surprised themselves at how much we accomplished on this first show with a new play director. It was a great adventure that we hope to build on in future productions.
We also have student lead groups that provide other outlets for those who want to be involved. The Jewell Improv Team performs throughout the year both on and off campus. Students interested in film production can create short films and present them in the theater auditorium. The new Pryor Learning Commons opening in fall of 2013 will have production studio facilities and video and audio editing suites for students to use for this purpose! Other planned performance groups include 24 Hour Theatre and a student directed 10-minute play series.
Alpha Psi Omega, the National Theatre Honorary organization for college students has had a chapter at Jewell for over 60 years. Participation in this student lead organization is earned through gaining points by being in a show or working on the crew. Once the appropriate number of points is earned, the student is tested to gain membership. APO has an annual mission to raise funds for the Kansas City AIDS Walk Foundation and then participates in the march through the downtown Kansas City area. It is a long-standing tradition for the theatre group.
Peters Theater is our main performance venue on campus. We are the primary users of the space, which means we allow other groups only if it works with our production schedule. In our regular “Proscenium” configuration, we seat 225 audience members, but the facility can be changed to allow for Theatre in the Round, Three-Quarter Thrust, or Alley performance configurations. We frequently update our equipment so that students are using the industry standard in scenery, costume, sound and lighting technologies. Most recently we acquired a new ETC ION light board and have plans to upgrade our sound mixing board next fall. The Scene and Costume Shops are outfitted with nearly every tool students would need to construct sets or costumes. Opening in the Fall of 2013 will be the Trotter Arts Plaza just outside of our building. The main feature of this plaza is designed as an outdoor amphitheater performance space. We are excited to learn how we can use this new venue.
So, as you can see, Jewell Theatre is finding its niche in the Kansas City Arts Scene. I hope you’ll consider joining us for a show, or we welcome you to stop in for a visit! We’d love to show you around and find a way to make you part of the company!
- Nathan A. Wyman, Director of Jewell Theatre Company