Clarence Brown Theater Presents Reading of “The Olive Grove” Sunday

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"The Olive Grove"The Clarence Brown Theatre will hold a staged reading of a new play, The Olive Grove, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 18, in the CBT Lab Theatre.

The reading is free and open to the public. Performed by professional actors, the reading provides the opportunity for audiences to participate in the birth of a new play, one that may receive its world premiere on the Clarence Brown stage. A discussion with the author and artists will follow the reading.

In 416 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, a pair of Athenian Generals explained to the inhabitants of the island of Melos, why, if they did not give up their freedom and submit to Athenian domination, they would all be killed or sold into slavery. As written by Thucydides, this conversation has become known as The Melian Dialog.

"Gary English’s new play is about the history of ancient Greece, but it is a story about contemporary concerns: politics, ethics, national fear and fatherhood," said director Calvin MacLean.

Playwright Gary English is Theatre Department Head at the University of Connecticut and Artistic Director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre. He earned his BFA at the University of Arizona, his MFA from Northwestern University and served as a faculty member at the State University of New York and Carnegie-Mellon University. In 2003, he was appointed to the rank of Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in Dramatic Arts. His areas of expertise are in stage directing and stage design. Recent major directing credits include The Miracle Worker and American Primitive, both at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA. Other projects include Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, A Little Night Music, Carousel, and Man of La Mancha which received the 1997 Best Musical Award from the Connecticut Critics’ Circle. His design work includes scenery and costumes for Off-Broadway, television and over 70 productions at many of America’s leading repertory theatres.

Now in his third season, director Calvin MacLean is the Clarence Brown Artistic Director and UT Theatre Department Head. Formerly professor of theatre and head of directing at Illinois State University, he also was artistic director of the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. His productions at Chicago’s Famous Door Theatre earned several prestigious Joseph Jefferson Awards for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Direction. He was named by the Chicago Tribune in 2002 as one of the "ten most promising" theatre artists in Chicago. Most recently, he directed the CBT production of The Secret Rapture. He will play the guitar in the upcoming CBT production of Tommy.

Composer Terry Silver-Alford is a member of the UT Theatre faculty and teaches Musical Theatre Performance, Introduction to the Theatre and Acting. He has worked in professional theatres across the country as a performer, director, musical director and composer. He has directed or musically directed over 100 productions and created scores for four original musicals and a variety of chamber and vocal music pieces.

Four visiting guest artists will participate in the reading. David Kortemier (General) was last at the Clarence Brown in A Flea in Her Ear. His work also has been seen in theatres across the country. He holds an MFA in Acting from the University of Louisville and was a professor of Theatre Performance for 12 years at Clarke College in Iowa.

Wendy Mortimer (Daughter) last appeared on the CBT stage in the production of A Flea in Her Ear. She has worked professionally as an actress, teacher and voice/text coach in Seattle, New York, Connecticut, Illinois and Indiana. She received an MFA from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program. Currently, she serves as coordinator of the Acting Program at Ball State University in Indiana where she teaches Voice and Acting.

A graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Elizabeth Norment (Woman) has been seen in regional theatres across the country. She has performed in New York on Broadway and in such theatres as the Manhattan Theatre Club and Roundabout Theatre. Her television credits include Law and Order, ER, Mad About You, Doogie Houser and L.A. Law.

Roderick Peeples (Man) was last seen as Galileo in the Clarence Brown production of The Life of Galileo. Over the years he has appeared in many Chicago productions, including work at Chicago Shakespeare, Court, Steppenwolf, Next, Famous Door and Victory Gardens theatres. On television, he has appeared in Prison Break, ER, Early Edition and The Untouchables. He also has several film credits.

Three professional artists and UT Theatre Department members also will be join the cast. David Brian Alley (Magistrate) is in his 9th season as Artist-In-Residence for the Clarence Brown Theatre where he has performed in many productions. He also has appeared at PlayMakers Repertory in North Carolina and the ImprovOlympic Theatre in Chicago. David has numerous film and television credits.

Currently in his 19th season, Tom Cervone (Captain) is the Managing/Program Director for the Clarence Brown and the UT Theatre Department. He also teaches in the undergraduate training program. He received his undergraduate degree in Speech and English Education with an emphasis in Theatre from West Liberty State College in West Virginia and his Master of Fine Arts degree from UT Knoxville. He will return to the CBT stage to act in the upcoming production of Tommy.

John Sipes (Prime Minister) is a first-year faculty member in the UT Theatre Department. Formerly he was Resident Movement Director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon where he worked on over 100 productions. Recent directing credits include All My Sons at the Clarence Brown, King John at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Hollow at the Milwaukee Rep, and mr. lear, a play he wrote, directed and performed at Usine-C in Montreal. He received an MFA in Acting from Indiana University.

Two UT Theatre Program undergraduates will round out the cast. Seth Crowe (Antonides) is in his third year at UT. He has performed in such CBT productions as The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Guys and Dolls, Antigone, and The Life of Galileo. Lauren Pennline (Girl) is in her final year as an undergraduate in the UT Theatre program. Past UT productions include The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Antigone and The Life of Galileo.

For more information on the free staged reading of The Olive Grove please contact Robin Conklin, Marketing Director for the Clarence Brown Theatre at 974-2497 or rconkli1@utk.edu.

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