Rozsa Center presents its 2013-14 season
HOUGHTON – Over the years, the Rozsa Center has become known for the funny, dramatic or thoughtful performances, plays and musicals it puts on during its yearly season and the programming scheduled for its 2013-14 season will be no different.
“I’m always excited about all the seasons, but in particular I’m really excited about this coming season,” Rozsa Center Director Susanna Brent said. “We’re doing a lot of theater that’s close to my heart.”
Of shows that Brent has a particular interest, she had difficulty picking just one.
“They’re all so unique,” she said.
One of the shows that will be playing at the Rozsa Center is “Fahrenheit 451,” which will be performed and staged by the Aquila Theatre Company, which is based out of New York City. The show will be playing Oct. 23.
“That one has always been a favorite of mine because I love science-fiction,” Brent said. ” It has such an important message for today. We are literally losing books and what does that do to us as a society.”
As many know, Ray Bradbury wrote the book the play is based on. But Bradbury also wrote the script for the play.
Also playing in the upcoming season will be “Hamlet,” which is scheduled for Feb. 12. “Hamlet” will be performed by The Acting Company, which put on “As You Like It” this past season.
But “Hamlet” isn’t the only show they’ll be performing. The following night The Acting Company will stage “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” which is connected to “Hamlet” in both character and theme, but with a layer of absurdism.
“Not everybody gets it, but that’s okay. It’s so specific,” Brent said of the absurdism.
The author of the play, Tom Stoppard, received a Tony award for best play for his work on “Rosencrantz.” He’s also the screenwriter of the Academy Award winning “Shakespeare in Love.”
On March 19, The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players will be performing “H.M.S. Pinafore.”
Brent credited “H.M.S. Pinafore” as being the grandfather of the modern musical.
“This was the first of what would become ‘Oklahoma,'” she said. “There are very, very similar concepts.”
The musical is also family friendly, although there may be parts that go over kids’ heads, but there will still be aspects of the musical kids can enjoy.
“There’s lots of slapstick humor in there with the sailors,” she said. “The kids will find lots of great humor.”
Brent said there is no particular theme that accompanies this season, but for their lecture series, a theme of nature, environment, loss and the interaction of science and art has sort of evolved.
The first in the lecture series will be a presentation of the documentary “Chasing Ice,” along with a lecture by star of the film and National Geographic photographer James Balog.
In November, Bernie Krause will be coming to talk about soundscape ecology.
“It’s a fascinating discussion about how the sounds of our world really create a music of their own,” she said.
Brent said that to the public, the method of choosing which shows will play the Rozsa Center may look like throwing a dart on a board, but it’s actually a process that takes a really long time, noting that she has already starting working on the 2014-15 season.
“You have to start early because we are hard to route,” Brent said.
There are a couple of different factors that come into play when scheduling shows. One factor is faculty members who are interested in bringing a lecturer in on a certain topic. It’s then a process of contacting agents, negotiating payment and going down the line of possible presenters until the right person fits in.
“It’s a very organic process and just being open to how things are going to come together,” she said.
But some of it is going out and tracking down specific shows.
“I hunted down “H.M.S. Pinafore like a dog for months,” she said.
Because of Brent’s persistence in getting “H.M.S. Pinafore,” The New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players routed its tour around the Rozsa Center.
“That’s what you get when you start early.”
“Fahrenheit 451” was something that came about by accident. Brent received a phone call from an agent asking if she would be interested in the show.
Knowing that the book is taught in high schools in the Copper Country School District, Brent seized the opportunity to get the play in the Rozsa Center.
Despite the varied amount of shows that Brent was able to secure, there are always a few shows that just don’t end up working out, one of which was “Mamma Mia.”
“Every year I go after ‘Mamma Mia’ and I can’t get it,” Brent said. “A lot of the big time musicals require that you book a week, and we can’t support a week or we just can’t get the routing to work.”
For the 2014-15 season, the Rozsa Center will be celebrating its 15th anniversary and all Brent can say is that she wants the season to be really splashy.
“We’ve committed to one show so far and that is the ballet and they’re going to be doing a best of series, so they’re going to be doing scenes from ‘Romeo & Juliet,’ ‘Swan Lake’ and ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and put them all together.”
Brent said the community has been really receptive to the upcoming shows, but one that has received a lot of attention is for a male choral group called Cantus They will be performing on Nov. 15. The show is called “All is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914” which tells the true story of German and British soldiers during World War I who put aside their differences and celebrated Christmas together.
“It is a beautiful story and everyone’s really excited to see Cantoose,” she said.
The full schedule for the upcoming season can be viewed at rozsa.tickets.mtu.edu. Tickets go on sale Aug. 1.