‘Berg sees highest volume of independent student theatre initiatives in recent years:

a guide on what to see and when to see it

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the cast of "Gossamer: An Alpine Folk Opera" in rehearsal || Photo courtesy of Danny Milkis '23

With the new year comes new opportunities for student theatre artists of all interests and departments at Muhlenberg, as the campus hosts a number of brand new, completely student-run performances and performance festivals. The following are a few events to look forward to in the coming months, as well as information for the community to get involved in supporting new student theatre and arts entrepreneurship on campus.

On Mar. 24 and 25 at 8:00pm, the Dorothy Hess Baker Recital Hall will host two performances of “Gossamer: An Alpine Folk Opera,” directed by Jacob Forman ‘24, choreographed by Lily Knowles ‘23 and music written and directed by Danny Milkis ‘23. The piece is completely original, and is an Oktoberfest-style folk jamboree which explores the dark, mysterious and fantastical coming-of-age story of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

“It’s been a n incredible time so far working on this project,” said Forman. “Especially with a story like this, one that is not well-known, it’s been fascinating to find out more about the history. Having a part in crafting a piece of theatre is very special and I can’t wait for everyone to see what we create!”

A staged concert of “Bare: A Pop Opera,” the groundbreaking coming-of-age rock musical, will be produced by Jake Hoffman ‘23 and directed and music directed by Abigail Schechter ‘24, and is set to premiere in the Seegers Union Event Space on Mar. 31 and Apr. 1.

“Directing this show, for me, is a great way to find opportunities for more students and performances on campus,” details Schechter. “I think our production team is also gaining a lot of valuable experience that applies to the real world, and we just wanted a really cool, meaningful story to share with the community.”

“We think that it’s important that we as students learn how to create theatre from the ground-up, because it’s very likely that a lot of our work in the real world will be us figuring out what to do and how to do it.”

-Madeline Burk ’23

The Patchwork Theatre Festival is a festival of independently produced theatre works, which consist of entirely student-run staging processes, holding performances during the weekends of Apr. 15 and Apr. 22 in nontraditional performance spaces around campus. The shows are being coordinated by an executive board of passionate and dedicated students, including Alison Rutyna ‘23, Amanda Berkson ‘23, Ashley Paseltiner ‘23, Haley Arnold ‘24, Lilli Brown ‘23, Madeline Burk ‘23 and Shira Holtz ‘24. 

“A few of us [Muhlenberg student theatre-makers] had plays that we really wanted to happen on campus for various reasons, and for various reasons, they weren’t right for the other festivals that take place during the school year,” explained Burk, “So we decided that we would self-produce with as low a budget as possible.” 

Attendees of the festival can look forward to three stage plays which cover a diverse range of content disciplines, namely “The Little Prince” by John Scoullar, “This Random World” by Steven Dietz and “Constellations” by Nick Payne.

“We think that it’s important that we as students learn how to create theatre from the ground-up, because it’s very likely that a lot of our work in the real world will be us figuring out what to do and how to do it,” concluded Burk.

“I THINK OUR PRODUCTION TEAM IS ALSO GAINING A LOT OF VALUABLE EXPERIENCE THAT APPLIES TO THE REAL WORLD, AND WE JUST WANTED A REALLY COOL, MEANINGFUL STORY TO SHARE WITH THE COMMUNITY.”

-Abigail Schechter ’24

At the end of April, Berkson will present a song cycle called “Waiting for You” in the Recital Hall, which primarily explores human connection, and is a glimpse into important decisions and the effects they have on others. Berkson wrote the piece alongside her twin sister, Olivia Berkson, a BFA Musical Theatre student at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

I like to think of it as a series of heart songs,” explains Berkson. “The songs are either pieces I’ve written myself or co-wrote with my twin sister. It’s still in progress, so some things may shift and grow. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to share these songs with the Muhlenberg community.”

“I’m really excited about all of the new theatre projects around campus,” said Gianna Carnevalino ‘23. “It’s inspiring to see students taking their art into their own hands and creating what they want to create here.”

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