Ready, set change: Indiana Festival Theatre begins its repertory shows

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications multimedia intern Milana Katic:

Indiana Festival Theatre began its July performance schedule with Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” on July 5.  Following that will be the opening of “The Miracle Worker,” the heartwarming story of Helen Keller, on July 11. Both shows run through to the end of July. So how does Indiana University’s Wells-Metz Theatre keep track of both productions? Good time management doesn’t even begin to cut it.

It’s called repertory theatre, and it’s a historical practice of using one company of actors and one theatre space for multiple shows — often at the same time.  IU Theatre keeps this practice alive in the summer as a way to teach its students the intricacies of working on several productions at once.

Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" at the Wells-Metz Theatre runs from July 5-26.

Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at the Wells-Metz Theatre runs from July 5-26.

“It’s a convention we started when Indiana Festival Theatre was brought back to Bloomington,” said Drew Bratton, managing director of Indiana Festival Theatre. “This is probably going to be the most complex and intricate set change that we have done between two shows. The set for ‘Twelfth Night’ and the set for ‘The Miracle Worker’ are completely different pieces.”

The performances will alternate every day during the week, but on the weekend, both shows will run in a single day. That means that once the curtain closes on the matinee performance, out comes the set crew for an intense two-to-three hours of set deconstruction and reconstruction. The theater goes from a late 19th century Alabama homestead to the ethereal coastline of Shakespeare’s Illyria in just a few hours.

“I think it’s exciting to see as an audience member,” said Reuben Lucas, set designer for both productions. “Seeing a show as a matinee, leaving and then coming back to a completely different feel — a completely different show. Seeing that done in just a day’s time is really interesting.”

"The Miracle Worker" will be moving audiences with the story of Helen Keller from July 11-27.

“The Miracle Worker” will be moving audiences with the story of Helen Keller from July 11-27.

Both productions are a part of IU’s Summer Festival of the Arts. “Twelfth Night” runs from July 5 to 26, and “The Miracle Worker” runs from July 11 to 27.  The first back-to-back performance will be Sunday, July 13, with opportunities to see both productions in one day every weekend until close. For ticket information, visit the IU Theatre website.

About the Indiana University Summer Festival of the Arts
The Summer Festival of the Arts began in 2011 and seeks to bring all of Indiana University Bloomington’s cultural elements together. For the calendar, see artsfest.indiana.edu. Follow updates at @IUArtsFest.

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