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Ohio University

Tantrum Theater company focuses on education and development during the summer

The theater company, made up of students, faculty and professionals, put on three plays over the summer months.

Before Tantrum Theater was founded in the fall of 2015 in Dublin, theater students had to drive 15 hours from Ohio University to Monomoy Theater in Massachusetts to work with other professionals over the summer, Dennis Delaney, an associate professor of theater and directing, said.

Tantrum Theater — run through the College of Fine Arts — aims to provide apprenticeships for theater students to give them the opportunity to work with professionals in their field.

The company put on three plays this summer during its first season, Little Shop of Horrors, Tammy Faye’s Final Audition and Dancing at Lughnasa, at Abbey Theater, 5600 Post Rd. in Dublin.

Tantrum Theater also held three educational workshops, some for elementary school students and others for high school and college-aged students, during the summer at high schools in Dublin. The workshops included several topics, ranging from mask work to stage combat, Daniel Dennis, the artistic director for Tantrum Theater, said.

“It was kind of amazing that (the season) happened at all because it happened so fast,” Dennis said.

Once OU gave Tantrum Theater the green light during late Fall Semester, the company was able to fully move forward with plans that were in the works for a number of years, Dennis said.

Dennis said he was happy with the season overall and has seen an increase in the attendance at the shows throughout the season.

“We’ve had to really do our best to let people know and to convince them that it’s worth spending their time with us,” Dennis said.

Sheila Daniels, the director of Dancing at Lughnasa, said despite the students and faculty involved in the program, working at the theater does not have an “academic feel.”

“I think that what they’ve done in my experience is really bring the best of both the professional theater world and the academic theater world together, in that it’s a very open feeling and very joyful, but it’s also very serious about its intent to … really live in the world of what it is to make the play with professional ethics and approach,” Daniels said.

When Daniels was younger, she said she participated in a similar summer theater program and found it beneficial to watch others to learn “what kind of artist (they) want to be.”

“I think it’s been just a delightful experience,” Daniels said. “I feel like there’s a real capacity as this company grows to not only grow it artistically for the sake of art but to really find connection to their community in Dublin.”

Delaney directed Tantrum Theater’s production of Tammy Faye’s Final Audition. Despite the fact that the Theater Division has performed Tammy Faye productions in the past, Delaney said he enjoyed working with different actors and a more elaborate set to perform for a new audience.

“That’s always exciting, to have new energy and new chemistry in the show,” Delaney said.

Even though the Theater Division runs its program with a professional model taught by professional faculty, it is beneficial for students to get to work side by side with a different set of professionals, Delaney said.

“They hear (the faculty’s) voices everyday for the whole time they are here,” Delaney said. “It’s great for them to hear our philosophies and our way of doing things supported and maybe even sometimes contradicted by professionals that are coming in.”

Another benefit of the students working with professionals is the chance to form relationships and further their future career opportunities, Delaney said.

According to Dennis, the theater community as a whole is “relatively small,” so he said it is important for students to begin to expand their networks outside of OU’s Theater Division within that community for further job opportunities.

“I think (students) will return to OU and to instruction with a perspective that is not just their teachers,” Dennis said. “It’s absolutely crucial that they understand that … their teachers are not the only ones who know what they are doing.”

When it comes to the future of Tantrum Theater, Dennis said the company will look to increase the number of opportunities for students to participate and add a wider variety of guest artists to mentor the students. He said it also hopes to expand the educational programs in Dublin to a year-round program during weeks like spring break.

“It was a successful first year,” Dennis said. “We are actively working on the future as we speak.”


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