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Tantrum Theater upcoming season to feature Shakespeare and Irish plays

Tantrum Theater’s upcoming season will perform plays featuring fairies and a mythical horse.

Tantrum Theater, which was founded in fall 2015 by the College of Fine Arts, combines student and professional cast and crew members to put on three full-length plays during its summer season. In 2017, the company will put on A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Into the West and Caroline, or Change for their second official season as a theater company. 

“I think we made a decent splash with the first season,” Dan Dennis, the artistic director of Tantrum Theater, said. “I guess we wanted to capitalize on that. We were looking at bringing in more audience members and we were also looking at opportunities for students.”

Two of the three plays will feature students as actors on stage, but students will be working behind the scenes in all three productions.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a Shakespeare comedy about teenagers “figuring out how to fall in love,” Dennis, who will be directing the show, said. For the show, the company will cast kids from the Columbus area to play the fairies.

Caroline, or Change is a Tony Award-nominated play about racial injustice during the 60s. Dennis said he is most excited to bring this story to the Columbus area because it is a “story we need to remind ourselves of.”

“In this last election there have been a lot of questions about who had access to polling places,” Dennis said. “It’s a conversation we still need to have.”

Caroline, or Change will feature music throughout the entire play, so it is “not your typical musical theater piece.” The show will be directed by Robert Barry Fleming, the associate artistic director at Cleveland Play House.

“(He’s) just a remarkable artist. He works all over the country and with everybody,” Dennis said.

The third play, Into the West, is an Irish fairy tale about kids who lose their mother and deal with their grieving father. A magical horse appears and leads them on a wild journey and they meet back with their transformed father. The play will be directed by New York-based director Jen Wineman and will feature music throughout the whole play, but is not a musical. The play will also be showing during the Dublin Irish Festival.

“It’s a show that children will love but it’s going to be really sophisticated, beautiful storytelling,” Wineman said.

Wineman said she enjoys plays that require her to “ignite (her) childlike side” rather than what she calls “couch plays.” A couch play is a play that takes place in a home and people talk about their problems that could be a TV sitcom, she added.

“When (couch plays are) really good, I love seeing those plays but for me as an artist, that’s not the kind of thing that I’m drawn to ... make,” Wineman said. “I like plays that ask for humongous imagination both from people making the play and people seeing the play.”

Into the West will not feature student actors because the play only has a total of three actors in it, but students will be working behind the scenes. The actors will only rehearse for about two weeks before moving into the theater and the pace will be “fast and furious,” Wineman said.

Tantrum Theater will also be putting on three week-long “summer camps” for children to teach them different theater skills, Dennis said. The workshop criteria are not absolute yet, but Dennis said it will probably feature a stage combat class and a creative drama class.

The production company will also put on a series of play readings that will feature student actors reading different plays that the company is considering performing for future seasons, or a new play written by a graduate student playwright or an alumni.

“It’s just additional opportunities for students to be involved and to be up on stage (and) be in charge of a process,” Dennis said. “Because we only have three shows each season, and while that’s a lot for us to put up, it also feels like we’re trying to say a lot in only three shows. We want to be able to … offer so many different kinds of stories.”

Wineman added that the environment of a teaching theater such as Tantrum Theater is beneficial for both students and professionals.

“I just think that the work is really great and whenever I am brought into direct somewhere like this and work with students,” Wineman said. “I always just feel like it makes me better at what I do.”


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