July 26, 2011

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — A group of Bucknell University students and alumni are presenting an original theatre piece, "The American Family," at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland, which runs from Aug. 5 to 12. || Review

The performance builds on a collaboration held on Bucknell's campus last summer between seven Bucknellians and eight students and alumni from Western Washington University who participated in a three-week intensive training session with the Tectonic Theatre Project.

"The Tectonic Theatre Project is an amazing Broadway theatre devising company, famous for such projects as 'The Laramie Project' and '33 Variations,'" said Anjalee Hutchinson, assistant professor of theatre and dance at Bucknell.

"Through the three-week intensive taught by director Andy Paris, the group learned a new technique called 'moments work' which taught them how to create theatre through the exploration of themes instead of a prewritten script."

After creating an initial piece called "The American Family" and previewing it for a small audience last summer, both groups spent the following academic year rehearsing and creating more material for the production.

"Next month, both sets of students, faculty and collaborators will be reunited in Scotland to perform for an international audience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The first week we are there we will put it all together. The second week — we perform," she said.

"The American Family"
Beginning with the question, "What was the point in time when your family changed course forever?" the group dug deep to discover the truth streaming underneath the mythology of the American family, according to Hutchinson. The collaboration led to a tragicomedy laced with sex, drugs and big life choices, with the players facing their own darkest secrets.

"The two groups — with 18 performers, three directors, two designers and 22 writers - will sew the entire piece together. Selecting which material stays and which goes, sequencing the work, adapting to the new space, finalizing the script and polishing the performance — all in a matter of four short rehearsal days-the distillation of their year-long investigation is sure to be a potent draught.

"Both thrilling and terrifying, no one knows exactly what the final piece will look like. Yet some things are sure. Dynamic, vivid and visually stunning, the work guarantees to be both movement- and image-rich while titillating all the senses.

"The show promises to both charm and surprise the audience as well as dissect and discover much of what it means to be an American family in the world today," she said.

Contact: Division of Communications