Monday, February 26, 2024

UNCW theatre department receives statewide award, reveals next season

The cast of UNCW’s “Electra” accept an award from the North Carolina Theatre Conference on Feb. 16. (PCD/Brenna Flanagan).

WILMINGTON  — The UNCW Department of Theatre celebrated the receipt of a notable award last week. 

On Feb. 16, opening night of the department’s production of “Electra,” representatives from the North Carolina Theatre Conference recognized the program with its 2022 college award for an exemplary ​​leadership role in the community, as well as artistic, professional and educational excellence.

READ MORE: Prophecies, matricide and rock ‘n’ roll: UNCW’s ‘Electra’ amps up Greek tragedy

“We are proud to honor UNC Wilmington for their commitment to fostering future artists, educators and our supporters,” former NCTC board member Maggie Miller told the crowd Thursday night. 

NCTC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening North Carolina’s theater industry and guiding the next generation of artists. Its membership includes middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities, professional and community theaters, as well as individual artists and art supporters. 

Past college award recipients include NC State University, UNC Charlotte, Meredith College, NC A&T University and Mars Hill University. 

UNCW professors hope the acknowledgement will draw in more high school graduates to the program. 

“I think it will help maybe bring exposure to the apartment that wasn’t there before,” professor Robin Post said. 

Post kicked off UNCW’s 2022 Mainstage slate with a gender-bent and race-consciously cast production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” It was followed by an eccentric homage to the Bronte sisters, “The Moors,” directed by Paul Castagno, who founded the department in 2005. 

In the fall, professor Charles Grimes put on the prescient Holocaust story “Kindertransport.” Professor Elizabeth Wellman followed up with her UNCW directorial debut in the space romp “Fight Girl Battle World.” 

The department also produces smaller shows throughout the year; typically, a UNCW professor or staff member will produce a Second Season production in the department’s black box theater and one student is given the opportunity to direct a show each semester. 

“[The award] really does help prop us up and keep us going down the road in terms of doing the work that we’ve been doing for so many years,” professor Ed Wagenseller said. 

Looking to the future, the department is slightly modifying its approach to next school year’s season, announced Thursday as well. 

Instead of the typical four Mainstage shows per year, only three shows will open, with the fall bill dedicated to professor Christopher Marino’s production of “Dracula” written by Hamilton Deane. The 1924 play was the first authorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel and starred famous B-movie horror star Bela Lugosi, who also was lead starred in the 1931 film inspired by the play. 

The play will have an extended run beyond the customary two weekends to commemorate the Halloween season. 

In the spring, Wagenseller will direct the 1988 farce “Rumors” by Neil Simon. The story follows the guests of an anniversary party for Charlie Brock, deputy mayor of New York City, and his wife, Myra. Brockshot himself in the head and his wife has gone missing; party guests descend into chaos. 

The final show will be another farce — Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” directed by Post. The famed satire includes mistaken identities, multiple marriage proposals, and the trivial pursuits of Victorian high society.   

Dates for the shows have yet to be announced.

Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at 

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