Theatre program carries on without official director

Photo credit/ Amanda Merrill

Katies Owens, A&E Editor

When the director of Marywood’s theatre department was let go at the end of last spring, no one knew where the program was headed.

At the start of this semester, Sr. Joan McCusker, chair of the department of Music, Theatre, and Dance, was put in charge of the program temporarily.

“She’s really concerned for the students. She’s brought in people from the community to help teach,” said Shane Hirschler, a junior Theatre major.

Several of the new part-time staff members are from the former Electric Theatre Company. These include Heather Stuart, Mary Ethel Schmidt, and David Zarko.

Stuart is an experienced actress who has worked on plays in Scranton, New York, Philadelphia, Delaware, and Italy. She was a part of the Electric Theatre Company, where she around the city since 2008.

Schmidt, who received her Master of Fine Arts from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, is an accomplished teacher, actor, and writer. She taught acting and directed more than 50 shows at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

Having directed hundreds of shows in New York City, Italy, and the Electric Theatre Company, Zarko has brought great experience to Marywood. Receiving his bachelor’s degree at the University of Arizona, Tuscon in 1971, Zarko has gone on to receive training all over the country and abroad.

While Schimdt helps the seniors prepare their showcases, Zarko has just wrapped up production of the program’s first show of the year. “Buddy Truffle,” a play written and directed by Zarko, took place on the weekend of Oct. 2.

Hirschler, who played the title character, had nothing but good things to say about the play and its director.

“David helped us to do more than just blocking. We really discovered our characters,” said Hirschler.

The play was a re-imagining of Moliere’s “Tartuffe” that Zarko set in 1930’s New York City. All of the scenes took place in the same room as a family struggled over how to deal with the hypocrisy of their clergyman friend ripping them off. The show was set up three-quarter in the round.

With one show under its belt this year, the theater department is not forgetting its goal of finding a new department head.

“Our intention is to have someone in place by January for the start of the spring semester,” said Mr. Collier Parker, dean of the Insalaco College of Creative and Performing Arts. “We don’t feel as though we’re doing any disservice to our students because of how much they’re enjoying working with the faculty that we’ve brought in.”