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King University Theatre Department Announces 2015-16 Productions

William ShakespeareBRISTOL, Tenn., Aug. 26, 2015 – As Shakespearean celebrations begin taking place around the globe to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, King University’s Theatre Department is heralding their 2015-16 season, which is slated to honor the best playwright in history.

“Our season will kick off during Family Weekend, Oct. 1-3,” says Chris Slaughter, associate professor and chair of the Theatre Department at King. “We want to use this Family Weekend event to introduce our season and set the tone for what we will be doing the rest of the year. We are also excited to have both the History and English Departments collaborating with us throughout the 2015-16 season.”

For all productions during the 2015-16 season, the Theatre Department is re-introducing talk-backs. “Talk-backs are a way to involve the audience in a more active way,” comments Slaughter. “We will include members of the Theatre Department along with the History and English Departments to field questions from the audience.”

Kicking off the season is a play written by the newest member of the Theatre Department at King, Kiara Pipino, assistant professor of Theatre, and a former student of hers, Jason Flannery. The comedy “Shakespeare the KING” merges several of the greatest works of Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Macbeth, Othello, Twelfth Night, Pericles, As You Like It, and The Tempest, with the modern world of video games, specifically Super Mario.

Pipino says, “The ambition of the play, ‘Shakespeare the KING,’ is to bring the world and works of William Shakespeare to young audiences in a way that is accessible, understandable, and most importantly engaging to what may be a skeptical audience. The show takes this struggle between archetypes and layers it with an artistic video game concept, which will hopefully paint the content in a new light for the young audience, showing that the works of the Bard will always find ways to stay fresh, applicable, and presentable to audiences of any age.”

Pipino, a native of Genoa, Italy, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture from the University of Genoa, Italy; her Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the University of Arkansas, and her Ph.D. in Architecture for Performance from the University of Genoa, Italy. In addition to teaching at King University, Pipino serves as the executive and artistic director for the Festival Internazionale Valle Christi in Rapallo, Genova, Italy, a festival she established in 2003. The Festival takes place in a medieval monastery.

The first weekend in November (Nov. 5-8), the Theatre Department will present their main stage show, “Goodnight Desdemona Good Morning Juliet” by Ann-Marie MacDonald. The comedy is about a scholar who is writing her dissertation on William Shakespeare and her belief he did not want to write tragedies, but only comedies. The scholar finds herself magically transported into the worlds of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Othello” where she interferes with the plots, and eventually manages to get back to the real world.

Moving into the spring semester, the Theatre and English Departments will welcome the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company, a Michigan-based theatre company famous for their Shakespearean productions, in February 2016. Pigeon Creek’s performance philosophy is based primarily on the original staging practices of acting companies from Shakespeare’s period. Since its founding, the Company has sought to explore such original practice elements as performance in non-traditional theatrical spaces, universal lighting, minimal sets, cross-gendered casting, doubling, and company structure.

“Pigeon Creek is famous not only in the U.S. but also all over the world,” comments Pipino. “They perform Shakespeare in the Elizabethan way. They do switch genders; they do blind casting; they sing and create their own music, and they perform Shakespeare in the daylight. They want the audience to experience the Shakespearean way of doing theatre; much like was evidenced in the movie “Shakespeare in Love.”

“In addition to a performance, Pigeon Creek will spend time with students in workshops, teaching them the art and beauty of the language of Shakespeare and the way it is meant to be vocalized,” says Slaughter.

In March, students will have a rare opportunity of participating in a workshop led by one of the most well-known award-winning casting directors in New York City, Alaine Alldaffer. Alldaffer will work with students on auditioning techniques.

This year, King will celebrate its 90th Dogwood Weekend, a time when alumni come together with the King community to reminisce and reunite with friends, faculty, and staff. During Dogwood, which takes place April 8-10, the Theatre Department will perform the Shakespeare comedy, “As You Like It.”

“In addition to the Shakespeare production during Dogwood Weekend, the Theatre Department will also host an end-of-the-year celebration, inviting alumni and friends, as well as theatre artists from the region,” says Slaughter. “This is a great way to celebrate our year and present a few theatre specific awards.”

For more information on King University’s Theatre Department and their 2015-16 season contact Chris Slaughter at crslaughter@king.edu or 423.652.4800 or contact Kiara Pipino at kpipino@king.edu.

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King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.