theRep Offers the Region More Than Just Exciting Professional Theatre

What’s one of the best keep theatrical secrets in the Capital Region? Capital Repertory Theatre’s On the Go! Program.  For the past 20ish years, this program brings live professional performances to schools in approximately a 90-mile radius of the Capital Region. The traditionally small cast productions are self-contained; the troop travels with their own sets, professional costumes, and sound system.  Sets tend to be set pieces, easily transportable, and costumes are minimal but change by adding a cape, a shawl, a hat, a scarf, etc., as the time period changes or the role of the performer changes. 

During the past year, On The Go! brought two productions to area schools; “Pure Poe: Three Tales of the Macabre” by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill and directed by Margaret E. Hall, and most recently, “Harriet Tells It Like It Is” by Karen Jones Meadows directed by Margaret E. Hall and Associate Director/Dramaturg Susan Spain.

Eliana Rowe as Harriet Tubman
Eliana Rowe as Harriet Tubman

Wynn Harmon returned as Edgar Allen Poe, reciting three of Poe’s classics: The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Masque of the Red Death. Eliana Rowe is Harriet Tubman and takes her audiences on the perilous voyage on the underground railroad from slavery to freedom. On her incredible journey, Rowe magnificently inhabited more than a dozen fully realized characters.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Margaret E. Hall, the Rep’s Associate Artistic Director under whom this program falls. Aside from presenting exciting productions to the theatre-going public, I received an engrossing education on just one more thing The Rep is doing for the community. The program focuses on shows created with an emphasis on literature and history, specifically New York State history, so they can tie into the school curriculum whenever possible.

Hall said the program hopes to “reach every student in the Capital Region with live theatre whether on The Rep stage or in their own schools before they graduate high school. The feeling is that if a child has not experienced live theatre before leaving high school, there is an excellent chance they will never attend a live theatrical performance as an adult.”

The program also engages playwrights and the community with the arts. The shows are geared anywhere from elementary-age to middle and high school students. Many of the productions can span all age groups and keep them in rapt attention. The stories are engrossing, entertaining, and exciting. The audience is not always aware they are being educated while being entertained!

Wynn Harmon as Edgar Allan Poe
Wynn Harmon as Edgar Allan Poe

Performances are staged so they can use whatever the natural light source is in the facility… whether performed in a school cafeteria, gymnasium, or theater, they can play to whatever size audience the house fits. The shows follow a format of approximately 45 minutes with a 15-minute talk back from the students. Often times the Q&A is as interesting as the show itself. Questions range from technical, how is something staged, to the play content, did you actually know Harriet? To questions about performance. I sense that oftentimes the performers are as entertained as much as the audience.

On The Go! provides a vital service to the community. Educating our youth through exposure and helping to build a solid foundation for the next generation of theatergoers.

If you’re interested in discovering more about this program, whether getting it involved with your child’s school or how you can help support it, reach out to The Rep at [email protected]

Often times the most exciting programs are the ones the theater-going audience knows the least about. On The Go! is another hidden gem of the Capital Region arts world.  After 20 years, it’s time to shine a spotlight on it.

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