The stage curtains recently closed on the Genesee Community College Forum Player’s production of In the Blood, and the cast and crew are already racking up awards for their stellar performance. In the Blood was adjudicated by the Theatre Association of New York State (TANYS) officials during the performances and were notified that they have won five TANYS awards. Three students were awarded for Acting Excellence, director Maryanne Arena was honored for Excellence in Directing, and choreographer Patricia Simmons was awarded Excellence in Choreography.
Three students, Patrick Dodge, Alex Grayson and Emily Jones were recognized for their excellence in acting for their stand-out roles in In the Blood, a modern interpretation of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel, “The Scarlet Letter.” The Forum Player’s play performance was in a post-Katrina backdrop that follows the daily trials of Hester, an illiterate, single, homeless, African American woman who must find a way to rise above and care for her five children.
Patrick Dodge, as Baby/Reverend, is a first-year theatre major at Genesee Community College, from the hometown of Warsaw, NY. A few of Patrick’s past theatre credits include “Thoroughly Modern Millie” as Trevor Graydon, “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” as Lawrence Jameson, “Our Miss Brooks” as Ted, “The Boys From Syracuse” as Antipholus of Ephesus, “Deadly Earnest” as Mr. Bumpus, “The Producers” as Kevin the Costume Designer, and “In the Fog” as Eben.
Alex Grayson, Jabber/Chilli, is a 21-year-old, second-year theatre arts major at Genesee, and In the Blood is his second show at the College. Alex is a Watertown, NY, native who has travelled internationally for a large portion of his life. Since moving to Genesee County, Alex has realized his deep love of performing and has taken part in several community theatre productions. Some of his favorite roles include the Tin Man from Batavia Players’ production of “The Wiz” and Fred Casely from the GCC Forum Players’ production of Chicago. Next year, he hopes to take his talents to SUNY Fredonia for a BA in musical theatre.
Emily Jones, Beauty/Amiga, is a freshman at GCC this year and loves her experience as a theatre major so far. Emily was recently involved in the Geneva Theater Guild Youth Theatre’s production of Seussical Jr. in Geneva, NY, this past summer. Emily also performed in Waterloo High School’s spring musical, Footloose, in the role of Ariel, and appeared in Dracula last fall in her hometown of Waterloo.
“The best part of directing, for me, is working with young actors, giving them the acting skills so they can create believable characters,” Maryanne Arena, director of In the Blood and director of Fine and Performing Arts at Genesee said. “Giving students good, sound, theater ethics, is what I enjoy most about college directing. Students leave respecting and developing a process, and learn that the joy of theatre is in the process and not the finished product.”
Choreographer for In the Blood, Patricia Simmons also won for Excellence in Choreography. Patricia holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Dance from the SUNY Brockport. As a young dancer and choreographer, she received many awards for choreography and performance through Dance Masters and Dance Educators of America. She has taught at numerous elementary and high schools as a teaching artist with the Western New York Arts in Education Institute. She has worked in the Brockport office of the Congress on Research in Dance and has co-authored an article with Sondra Fraleigh published in Contact Quarterly 2002. She has been a faculty member of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts, the Dance Department of SUNY Brockport, and also at Genesee in Fine and Performing Arts where she was also a member of the Fine Arts Committee and 2007 Recipient of a NISOD award for Teaching Excellence. Locally, her choreography has been seen in many GCC Forum Players productions over the past 12 years and most recently in the Batavia Rotary Club production of Singin’ in the Rain and in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown for the summer theater camp at Genesee Community College.
Director Maryanne Arena was a professional actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, and director before turning to a full-time teaching career. She holds an MFA in Acting/Theatre and has toured the United States with professional theater companies such as PA Stage in Pennsylvania. Maryanne has created and implemented theater programs for gifted high school students, as well as college students. She was brought to Norfolk public schools in Virginia to create the curriculum and chair the Gifted Theater Program; a city-wide program for all Norfolk City students. She also created and put in place a Theater Program for Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, Michigan. Maryanne has had great success with students of all ages. Currently her students have appeared on Broadway, auditioned and gone on to Conservatory training, and are working professionally on stage, movies, and television. She is also a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s award for Excellence in Professional Service.
“Watching students master the professional skills of the actor is important to me as an educator. Seeing them work professionally or attend the four-year college of their choice is why I love working at the community college level,” Maryanne said.
Last year, the Forum Player’s production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf won several TANYS awards as well. The production won in four categories: Excellence in Acting for Ensemble Work, Excellence in Choreography, Excellence in Acting and Best Long Play of 2009.
For further information please contact Maryanne Arena at 585-343-0055 x6439 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For photos of In the Blood, please visit the Genesee Community College Theatre’s Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/GCCTheater.
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