REP looks forward

Resident Ensemble Players complete fourth season, plan for more


11 a.m., May 11, 2012--George Watson, dean of the University of Delaware College of Arts and Sciences, announced today that the Resident Ensemble Players (REP), having recently completed its fourth season, will continue with future plans for full seasons of productions, thanks to a five-year commitment of support from the college and the University.

“This is a demonstration of the University’s continued commitment to supporting the arts at UD and in the community,” President Patrick Harker said. “We are at an important next stage in the advancement of educational programs that engage both the mission of UD and contribute to the cultural environment of the region.” 

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Since the REP’s inception in 2008, it has consistently bucked the national trend across the country of not-for-profit theatres’ decreasing ticket sales. The REP has enjoyed an increase in ticket sales every year since its inception, totaling an overall 40 percent increase in subscription sales and an 80 percent increase in total ticket sales over its four years of existence.

This year, the REP performed to a record 21,958 people; 50 percent of its audience was the general public, 38 percent was students from UD and other educational institutions in the state, and 12 percent was UD faculty and staff. The REP’s paid attendance was 84 percent of total capacity for the 2011-12 season. In comparison, according to the most recent fiscal report on professional not-for-profit theatres by the Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the American theatre, average attendance at surveyed theatres ran between 73 and 76 percent of total capacity.  Forty-three percent of REP seats were purchased through subscription sales, compared with the national average of 25 percent.

While the mission of the College of Arts and Sciences and the University underscores the importance of offering broad and balanced undergraduate, graduate and professional education programs, it must be balanced within the context of the current economic environment. “As the intellectual and cultural heart of the University, the College of Arts and Sciences strives to emphasize both the enduring value of a liberal education and the significance of cultivating new and emerging fields of knowledge and artistic expression,” Watson said.

After considerable thought and assessment, the college, in conjunction with the Department of Theatre, has decided to defer the recruitment of students into the Professional Theatre Training Program (PTTP) for the class that would start in 2013. The University, college and department will work together to achieve the needed funding in order to bring a new class starting in fall 2014.

The Department of Theatre, through the REP and the PTTP, provides a wide variety of general education courses to all University students designed to expand appreciation for, and future participation in, theatre. These courses will continue to be taught by members of the nationally respected faculty of the PTTP and by the professional actors in the REP.

Nearly 300 undergraduate students study in one of three theatre minors: Performance Studies, Theatre Production and Theatre Studies. These minors are now among the University’s top five most popular. Some of these students also participate in Healthcare Theatre, a unique interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Theatre and the College of Health Sciences that helps future health care professionals develop communications skills and cultural competency through their participation in interactive scenarios. (Theatre students play the role of sick patients; nursing and physical therapy students care for them.) Coursework in all minors, enhanced by the mentoring from REP professionals, provides students with a foundation for theatre appreciation, focusing on the art and craft of theatre making, both on stage and behind the stage.

Through the PTTP, graduate students participate in a prescribed program of conservatory classes and production experience particularly designed for their curricular area of specialization, Acting or Technical Production. A total of 22 graduate students participate in three years of conservatory training leading to a Master of Fine Arts degree. In the current edition of The Hollywood Reporter, the PTTP is included in a list of the 25 outstanding drama schools in the English-speaking world.

“We are especially gratified to be on this list because it was based on the assessments of theatre professionals and top casting directors,” said Sanford Robbins, founder and producing artistic director of the REP, as well as founder and director of training for the PTTP and chair of the Department of Theatre. “It is a very big honor and an indication of how strongly PTTP contributes to UD’s Path to Prominence.”

Other schools featured in the article include Carnegie Mellon, the Juilliard School, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Northwestern University, the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, UCLA, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Yale University School of Drama.

“Thanks to this commitment from President Harker and Dean Watson, our talented REP company and theatre faculty and staff will continue to provide our entire community with entertaining, moving and thought-provoking productions at affordable ticket prices,” Robbins said.

“Through continued production offerings by the Resident Ensemble Players, the UD community and the area’s theatre audiences will enjoy high-quality productions of classic, modern and contemporary plays each year,” Watson said.

The college has commissioned an economic impact study of the PTTP and the REP in order to facilitate future fundraising efforts on behalf of these programs. In conjunction with the University, the college will continue to seek financial support and gifts from corporations, government, foundations and individuals who believe in the artistic and educational excellence, productions and cultural impact of the Department of Theatre.

For additional information or to support the REP/PTTP, visit this website.

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