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Students who worked with the Philadelphia-based performers while they were on campus in late January, conducting workshops and producing three shows of Wide Awake: A Civil War Cabaret, say the experience was truly one-of-a-kind.
“It was my first time working in a truly collaborative environment where everyone was involved in the decision making progress. It was great to see how everyone’s ideas were explored and chosen or discarded. I learned a lot about devised theater, also about reaching out and stepping out of comfort zones in order to reach audiences and performers. Bringing this work not only to Chestertown but to Washington College made people think outside of the box. When they visited classes, I believe they had more of an impact on the students than they know; it was refreshing to see this positive energy between theater, history and pop culture, how they work together, and what can be accomplished.”
—Phaedra Scott ’14, Drama and History majors Assistant stage manager to Bearded Ladies Stage Manager Bayla Rubin
“The Beards are wonderful. I’ve been quoted as saying the show was a ‘religious experience.’ It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before or expected, and I loved every second of their company and work. I would love to work with them again! I can’t wait to see them again in Philadelphia. It is so valuable having a working theater group on campus; it really showed us all not only what you can do with a theater education professionally, but also introduced us to different ways to make art. And to make people laugh.”
—Nicole Capobianco ’16, Drama major Departmental Costume Shop Manager who worked closely with the Bearded Ladies’ costumer Rebecca Kanach and her assistant Fritz McGlynn.
“Their process of devised theater challenged my script-based understanding of drama and inspired me to tell stories in new ways. Working alongside these enormously generous professionals, we learned to manipulate site and script in order to communicate exciting ideas. Having a working theater company visit the campus reaffirmed my ambition to pursue theater as a career. I witnessed firsthand the passion and professionalism crucial to producing a theatrical piece like Wide Awake. I heard the campus buzzing with talk of musical outbursts, ten-foot-tall hoop skirts, and the general upheaval of history as we think we know it. The Bearded Ladies reminded me that theater can form new perspectives as well as entertain. I am thankful that such a provocative and high-energy group visited our campus and am currently negotiating an internship with the Bearded Ladies for this summer.”
—Valerie Dunn ’15, Drama and English majors, creative writing minor Worked on set construction and deconstruction, as well as workshops and dramaturgy with the Bearded Ladies on her own senior thesis.
The Bearded Ladies performed Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings
“I learned a lot about the effects that can created through shadows and how amazing effects can be made through use of an overhead projector. The best part of the Bearded Ladies’ residency was that they brought a different type of theater to the text-based theater major we have at Washington College. They work in devised theater, which does not rely as primarily on the text and is motivated more by collective artistic decisions. It is sometimes limiting to focus so much on a text-based performance method and the Bearded Ladies’ allowed me to see outside of the style so prevalent at Washington College.”
—Patrick Derrickson ’15 Drama and Philosophy majors
Events manager for the Gibson Theatre who worked as assistant to the puppeteer for the Bearded Ladies.