October 12, 2010

Meet Marianne Savell, Director of "Our Town"

Regent Theatre welcomes Marianne Savell, guest director of Our Town and last season's production of Dancing at Lughnasa. Marianne is an accomplished actor, director and teacher coming to us from Seattle & Los Angeles. She is an adjunct professor at Vanguard University, an associate artist with Taproot Theater Company and a member of Directors Lab West. She received her MFA in Acting from the University of Illinois where she graduated with highest honors and was a guest artist at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She served as Producing Director of Actors Co-op in Hollywood and on the advisory board of Provision Theater Company in Chicago and was invited to the prestigious New Harmony Project to direct Margaret Hunt’s new play And the Ravens Feed Us in 2008.
Marianne’s professional directing credits include the critically acclaimed Jeff award-nominated Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Victory Gardens, Chicago), the world premiere and LA Weekly award-winner Gulf View Drive, the StagesceneLA award-winner Wit, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow, Shadowlands, the world premiere Yours, Isabel, Angel Street, Translations, the West Coast premiere of As It Is in Heaven, The Crucible, Hamlet, God & Shakespeare and Molly Sweeney.
At Vanguard, Marianne directed the American College Theatre Festival finalists The Lion in Winter and As It Is in Heaven as well as Saint Joan, America’s Broadway and Three Sisters. Her professional acting credits include A Streetcar Named Desire (ACTC), The Seagull (LA Weekly award for Best Featured Actress), As You Like It, The Voice of the Prairie, The Hasty Heart, All My Sons, Uncle Vanya, Twelfth Night, Bullshot Crummond and Henry V.
Marianne has a few new plays in development and is conducting research in the Virginia Beach area for her new play on generals Lee and Grant. We came to know about Marianne when she directed one of our own MFA in Acting alumni, Dan Roberts (’07) in The Crucible at Actors Co-op, a professional Christian theatre company in Los Angeles. Both Marianne and Dan were nominated for LA Weekly awards for The Crucible. We’re glad to have her here!

Marianne’s Thoughts about Our Town
"So many of us have a history with Our Town. We read it in high school, or we played Simon Stimson in college or we saw it at a community theatre in Clinton, Mississippi. Recently, Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-prize winning play has had a resurgence off Broadway with a beautiful production by The Hypocrites out of Chicago. What is striking about this play is that memory softens what is actually a sharply insightful and brutally honest play about our humanity. A friend recently joked with me that Our Town is a zombie play. I had to kind of agree with him. It is a play about what it means to really live, to die, to be the living dead. If we're really honest with ourselves we sometimes feel like we're more dead than alive. And it scares us. But do we change? Do we make the effort to really live? This play delights me and terrifies me. Challenges me to do better. Come with us to Our Town, and stay awhile..."

Working with Marianne
“It was such a pleasure to work under the direction of Marianne Savelle in Regent’s production of Dancing at Lughnasa last year! She worked tirelessly and patiently to turn this sow’s ear into a credible Father Jack. Imagine my excitement, then, to learn that I would have the opportunity to reprise the role of Professor Willard under Marianne’s capable direction! Marianne is adept at bringing out the best in each actor, no matter the size of the role, and integrating each role into the balanced whole of a piece. She also brings such a wide and current connection to the professional world and plugs us into that connection as well. It is equally encouraging to hear her share the many opportunities she has to integrate her faith with her art. She has become not only a director with whom I enjoy working but also, I am happy to say, a colleague and friend” – Mike Salsbury, 2nd-year MFA

“I felt like the entire production (Dancing at Lughnasa) was put together through one big conversation. Marianne has the perfect mix between letting you explore your character freely and pushing you to limits you didn’t even know were possible. Some of my best show experiences have been with her because I felt like I left the process a better, more inspired actor.” – Jeff Fazakerley, 2nd-year MFA

“Marianne has a beautiful grasp of how to communicate the important story of Our Town in a startling, enlightening manner. She has made many subtle choices in blocking and the use of sound to compel thought. She triggers thought within her actors. She challenges and provokes the character but never diminishes the actor. Her goal is the story. She is always asking the question, ‘What is the best choice to honor the story?’ We trust her. We value her insights. If she asks us to do it, we do it with conviction. We are a cohesive group that takes risks and is unafraid to venture into the unknown with Marianne as our guide.” – Brittany Baird, 1st-year MA

Come and see what all the buzz is about! Our Town opens October 15th and runs through October 24th.

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