Schimmel Takes Center Stage

Curtain’s up! The Schimmel Theatre unveils its exciting fall lineup of events. With everything from lectures to tango, and cabaret to film, the Schimmel is sure to have something for you.

“It’s everything—it’s film, it’s lectures, it’s dance, it’s music—it’s theatre,” says Abigail Buell, marketing and public relations manager for the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts, which is operated by the department of Cultural Affairs. She’s talking about all of the great new programming that the Schimmel Theatre will be presenting this season, under the auspices of Pace Presents.

The Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts is shaking things up this fall with a new look, new programming, and a new mission. Under the direction of Martin Kagan, Pace’s department of Cultural Affairs is gearing up the Schimmel Theatre to become an epicenter in lower Manhattan for culturally and artistically enriching experiences.

Terence Blanchard

“We’re in the process of really giving ourselves a new image,” says Buell. “We have a wonderful new director, we’re building a new website, we’ve got focused lineup for the year—it’s a really important time for us to build an audience.” Pace’s Cultural Affairs department wants to engage not only members of the University community and lower Manhattan, but also the entirety of New York City.

The season kicks off with the first installment of the Great Painters and Their Masterpieces lecture series with Pace’s own Janetta Rebold Benton, PhD, who will discuss da Vinci on Wednesday, October 12. Over Homecoming weekend the Schimmel Theatre will present an evening of cabaret featuring Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway in BOOM! Later this fall, jazz legend and five-time Grammy award-winner, Terence Blanchard will take the stage on November 5.

“We’re so excited about our new programming and the Pace Presents season and can’t wait to share it with the Pace Community and the Lower Manhattan community as a whole,” says Kagan.

Ann Hampton Callaway and Liz Callaway

The Pace Presents 2011-2012 season runs from October through May. Scheduled for the spring are performances by the old-time string band, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, followed by their album release party; Argentine Nights: Tango, a performance by Argentinean tango dancers followed by a milonga with dance instructions for the audience; and much more.

Tickets for all shows go on sale Thursday, September 15. Pace faculty and staff receive a special discounted rate of $10 to all shows unless otherwise advertised. (Use code: PACEINSIDER to purchase your discounted ticket.) You may purchase tickets online at schimmel.pace.edu, by phone at (866) 811-4111, or in person at the Schimmel Box Office, Monday through Friday from 1:00 p.m.—6:00 p.m.

For more information about these and other events at the Schimmel Center, please visit schimmel.pace.edu.

More than Fun and Plays

Just who is this Falstaff cad, and what makes him think he can woo two wealthy ladies? As the Shakespeare at Pace Festival moves full steam ahead, wrapping up a performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor and rolling out Merchant of Venice in February, Pace introduces several educational components to open audience’s eyes to the Bard’s many nuances.

Merry Wives

Earlier this month, Pace Distinguished Professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies Martha Driver, PhD, gave the centerpiece lecture on The Merry Wives of Windsor, delving into some of the historical figures who may have helped shape Shakespeare’s famous fool, Falstaff. In this column, this expert in medieval and early Tudor texts, who has published numerous articles on the history of publishing and whose books include The Medieval Hero on Screen and Shakespeare and the Middle Ages (edited with Pace Professor and Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department Sid Ray) shares her insight as well as what she thinks will be some of the highlights of the festival.

What do you think makes the Shakespeare at Pace Festival unique?

It is thrilling to see live Shakespeare in almost any context—from Theater in the Park to Theater in the Parking Lot! Pace is bringing live productions downtown. The Festival is picking up on an earlier Pace tradition of live theater. I am thinking here of the wonderful productions of Tony Randall’s theater company, especially of Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui and the classical play The Persians, both performed at the Schimmel Theater.

This is the second time the Globe has returned to Pace, and hopefully the first of an annual Shakespeare festival designed to make Pace “the downtown place” for Shakespeare. What do you think this festival means for the community and Pace’s academic reputation?

Did you see the New York Times review of the Globe production of Love’s Labour’s Lost at Pace last year? It was a rave! These continuing excellent productions will establish the reputation of the Shakespeare series and also of Pace University as a place where such plays are taught, studied, performed, and loved. [Note: To read reviews of The Merry Wives of Windsor, click here and here.]

For those who missed it, what was the theme of your centerpiece lecture?

The talk focuses on Falstaff and explores some of the medieval underpinnings of his character, including the Vice character in early medieval drama, as well as two historical figures who may have helped to shape Shakespeare’s comic creation. The lecture will then turn to discussion of Falstaff in America and early production history, ending with an analysis of one specific scene of Merry Wives, the culmination of the action at Herne’s oak, again drawn in part from earlier medieval sources.

What is the one message you hope people have taken away from your lecture and the performance?

From the lecture, that Shakespeare was influenced by medieval romance traditions, along with English folklore, in his creation particularly of Falstaff while also making something quite new– a rogue hero who has been popular with audiences from the Elizabethans to modern moviegoers down to the present day. From the performance, the joyfulness of Shakespeare’s comic timing and wit!

The Globe performance is the only one of the four performances that is staged in a traditional manner; the other three are using more modern settings. What do you think are some of the pros and cons to this modern approach?

We saw Patrick Stewart in Macbeth at BAM in modern dress fairly recently (relentless and dark), which was entirely effective, and Richard Burton’s Hamlet in street clothes remains one of the best productions of that play on record. Almereyda’s Hamlet is also very good, set in modern New York. Costume, sets, lighting, all are very important but must reflect the director’s vision; if that is consistent, the rest follows.

Other than Merry Wives, what performance are you most looking forward to?

I am looking forward to all four performances and intend to take students to see them. I have seen F. Murray Abraham’s Shylock in Merchant of Venice once before and would love to see it again and compare it with the Al Pacino production currently on Broadway.

Next on her plate, Professor Driver will be publishing an essay on Shakespeare’s Pericles and another regarding medieval manuscript illumination. She’s also writing about early Tudor texts and their illustration, working with Pace colleague Eugene Richie on a translation project that will be discussed at a conference in Spain, editing the Journal of the Early Book Society (which will be published by Pace University Press in fall 2011), organizing a conference with colleagues at the University of York, and reading screenplays and trying to finish another book in her spare time!

Put Some Stock in Your Summer

From July 16-18, celebrate Broadway at the Schimmel Center, where five Pace students share the stage with some of the brightest stars in the business.

Whether you’re a Broadway veteran or a newly converted Glee fan, Summer Stock NYC’s musical revue is sure to make your heart sing. This new event was created by musical theater company and conservatory CAP21, which makes high-quality musical productions accessible to local audiences while also serving as a training ground for actors, singers, dancers, directors, choreographers, and designers. This year’s case includes five of Pace University’s musical theater students.

“One of the reasons we wanted this was the opportunity for Pace students to perform with highly professional stars,” says Director of Cultural Affairs David Watson. “This has been in the works for years.” This year’s show features a mix of modern and traditional Broadway numbers and a cast including Broadway and cabaret artist Karen Mason (Mamma Mia!, Sunset Boulevard), As the World Turns Daytime Emmy-nominated actress Colleen Zenk (Bring Back Birdie), and Kelly Felthous (National Tour of Grease).

Founded in 1994, CAP21 trains more than 400 qualified actors each year and has an alumni roster that includes some of today’s most recognizable names, such as: Lady Gaga, Anne Hathaway, Glee’s Matthew Morrison, and Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars.

Rising Pace junior and musical theater major Sarah Nathan, who is part of the ensemble cast says, “I have never created a show from the ground up. This is an eye-opening experience, as well as an educational opportunity.”

Watson hopes the Summer Stock NYC event will be the beginning of an established relationship with CAP21. “We are aiming toward a full-scale musical production of a Broadway musical that will open at Pace and go to different theaters throughout the five boroughs,” he says. “This would be a full summer of employment for the students, with five to six weeks of touring.”

While musical theatre students are no strangers to performing, it’s the professional aspect of participating in Summer Stock NYC that will help boost their resumes and provide experience.

Rebeca Radoszkowicz, also a rising junior and musical theater major has been in more than 40 professional and non-professional theatrical productions, as well as commercials, TV, voice-overs, and movies. However, exemplifying Pace’s traditional commitment to bridging the gap between theory and practice, the experience has been exciting to her as her “first professional, paying, NYC job.”

A Celebration of the Broadway Musical will play July 16 -18 at the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts and July 20-23 at The Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College.  Visit http://www.smarttix.com/show.aspx?showcode=SUM10 to purchase tickets ranging from $12 to $30.