December 7, 2010

Regent Educational Theatre Tour

Were you aware that the School of Communication and the Arts has its very own touring company? Initiated this year by Producer/Director Nathanael Fisher (2nd year MFA student) the Regent Educational Theatre Tour is up and running. Nathanael was inspired to start the company while taking a writing class with Professor Gilette Elvgren. Dr. Elvgren is the founder of Saltworks Theater Company in Pittsburgh, PA. His play I Am The Brother of Dragons, a piece about chemical abuse and peer pressure, has been touring the Eastern seaboard for over 20 years. Nathanael said Dr. Elvgren inspired and challenged the class to be proactive and make opportunities for ourselves and others, which led him to the idea of touring I Am the Brother of Dragons to the Hampton Roads community.

Under the advisement of Dr. Elvgren and Professor Scott Hayes, who also has professional experience with educational touring groups, Nathanael drafted a proposal for Regent Educational Theatre Tour and presented it to the Dean.

With the support of the School of Communications and Arts Admissions Department, Nathanael put together a cast of undergraduate theatre students and began rehearsals for the tour. The cast includes John Mark Bowman, Daniel McGary, Juliette Romano, Lily Wilson, Tianna Yentzer and Brad Ziegler. Already this year, the group has performed for Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Chesapeake and Tallwood High School in VA Beach. Upcoming venues include Faith Christian Center Norfolk, Crittenden Middle School in Newport News, Calvary Christian School in Norfolk, Light of Life Christian Center in Virginia Beach, Great Bridge Baptist Church in Chesapeake, and two special performances for the Regent community in COM128 on December 10 and 11.

When asked about the biggest challenges facing the new company, Nathanael and the cast had varied reactions. For Nathanael, the biggest challenge has been marketing. He says that even though the show is being offered free of charge to local schools, getting the word out has been difficult. For cast members Tianna Yentzer and Dan McGary, some of the biggest challenges have been scheduling and memorization. Tianna and fellow cast member Juliette Romano add “This process of touring theatre has proved to be a greater challenge than I had anticipated…it’s both fun and frustrating at times because they (high school audiences) are constantly responding to the story and talking at us.”

However, all agreed that the rewards outweigh the challenges. Juliette found “that God is using this show to reach out to some kids. It has been such a reward to hear that our show has pulled some walls down for kids dealing with the stuff we are portraying.” Cast member Lily Wilson enjoys the question and answer portion at the end of the performance, and appreciates being able to get the audience’s point of view. For Nathanael, it’s all about the impact the performance can have on students. He says, “I had a youth pastor tell us that his students were deeply impacted by I Am the Brother of Dragons. The show brought to life some very real issues that his youth were dealing with. He said that the show was so effective he was going to spend the next 3 weeks following up on the issues raised by the show. Others have said  there were students in attendance that are currently dealing with substance abuse and addiction. They have been thankful that Dragons shows where the path of addiction can end. If these students are being affected by the play, if someone makes a choice to step away from substance abuse, then that is a great reward.”

Regent’s Educational Theatre Tour will soon be adding an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to their repertoire. This production will feature fight choreography by 2nd year MFAs Zachary Bortot and Britain Willcock.
To find out more about Regional Educational Theatre Tour, come see one of their performances on Dec. 10th or 11th, at 8:00pm in COM128. The performance is free, but seating is limited.

To schedule a performance contact Nathanael Fisher at 757-955-3957 or

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