Professor Ken Elston to Trace Origins of Local Theater Company

Posted: November 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Ken Elston. Creative Services photo

In the second Visions Series lecture at the Hylton Performing Arts Center on the Prince William Campus this fall, associate professor Ken Elston, chair of Mason’s Department of Theater in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, will discuss how a theater company grew out of its community’s passions.

Elston will present “Local Theater: Tracing a Contemporary Theater’s Redefining of Creative Passion” on Monday, Nov. 21, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture is free and tickets are not required.

Theater art organizes sound and silence, form and color, and human actions in space and time to represent “truth” — truth made worthy of investment by its existence in moments in which human beings reveal their passions, Elston says. Furthermore, audiences identify with both the truth and human passions reproduced in a theatrical setting.

In 2005, the Gray Ghost Theatre Company and Footsteps in Time based in Manassas, Va., grew out of the passions of a community: identifying “history” as indispensable to Virginia’s vitality, according to Elston.

Elston, who is artistic director of the company, explains that this not-for-profit arts group was created to support the community’s passions, and, so, was forced to identify a new trajectory for making plays that considered the character’s story secondary to that of the audience’s. This lecture will trace the company’s journey, emphasizing local context as a new model for organizing the form itself.

Read more about Elston’s work re-creating history in this University News article.

At Mason, Elston, an associate professor of theater, teaches acting with an emphasis in movement and directing. He has a BA from Temple University and an MFA from The Ohio State University.




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