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News, Theater, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica

Santa Monica College Play Selected For Kennedy Center Regional Festival

Posted Jan. 26, 2014, 8:44 am

Mirror Staff

Santa Monica College’s Theatre Arts Department has announced that its production of “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” has been selected to participate in the prestigious 2014 Regional Kennedy Center/American College Theater Festival, which will be held Feb. 12-15 at the Los Angeles Theater Center (LATC).

“The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” is one of nine plays selected from 185 productions at 56 colleges and universities judged throughout the western region: Southern and Central California, Southern Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Hawaii.

Fundraising performances of the play will be held at Santa Monica College prior to the festival on Sunday and Monday, Feb. 2-3.

Performances will be at 8 pm in the SMC Theatre Arts Studio Stage on the main campus, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Tickets are $20 in advance or $23 at the door (plus a modest service charge). For advance tickets, please see www.smc.edu/studiostage or call 310.434.4319 Monday through Friday.

“I am very thrilled about our nomination, and even more thrilled that our student actors are being recognized for their outstanding work,” said Theatre Arts Department adjunct professor Pat Train Gage, who directed “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals.” “I chose this piece because of my attraction to the work of J.M. Barrie, the author of ‘Peter Pan.’ Similar themes run through ‘The Old Lady Shows Her Medals’ as in ‘Peter Pan,’ especially when we hear the young Scottish soldier, played by Michael Kripchak, propose to the Old Lady, Mrs. Dowey, played by Mannnette Cogan. In Peter-and-Wendy fashion, the Scot proposes that the Old Lady become his mother. The play also depicts WWI as highly romanticized and propagandized, which is not like war today, where instant media coverage shows the true spoils of war right in our living rooms.”

Train Gage added, “It was a joy to work with the mix of younger and older actors in this production. The older students are professional women who have come to our campus to learn a new skill set. This is the beauty of the community college, where young and old alike can find common ground in education. Having students of all ages is one of the really great and satisfying things about teaching at SMC.”

Considered one of the most amusing and touching plays inspired by World War I, “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” tells the tale of an old Scottish charwoman who invents a son, and finds to her surprise that a fine upstanding soldier adopts her as a mother. The power-packed 55-minute production takes the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride as it examines the bonds, expectations, and playfulness in relationships between mothers and sons.

Train Gage has taught on the SMC Theatre Arts faculty for more than a decade. Her current instructional focus is on introducing students to the art of acting, and building self-confidence that will serve them on stage, as well as in everyday life. “The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” is the third production Train Gage has directed at SMC, where she directed the Studio Stage productions of “The Boys Next Door” in 2010, and “The Father” in 2008. She also currently serves as Vice President and Treasurer of the SMC Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1956 to help SMC students realize their dreams of a college education.

“The Old Lady Shows Her Medals” was originally performed at SMC in November 2013 with another one-act play, “A Piece of My Heart,” directed by Terrin Adair-Lynch. The regional competition performance of the play at LATC is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10 am, 1 pm, and 5 pm.

SMC has a history of success at both the regional and national levels of the Kennedy Center/ACTF competitions.

This is the third year in a row that an SMC production has been selected for the regional festival. Last year, “Heart Mountain,” a drama about the struggles of a family in a World War II Japanese internment camp, was picked for the regional festival. The year before that, “Cesar and Ruben,” a musical about the life of civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, was selected for the regional festival.

Previous SMC productions selected for the regional festival include “Slavery,” written by then-student Jonathan Payne, in 2002; “Vanya” in 1999; and “Once on this Island” in 1997. “Slavery” and “Once on this Island” went on to the finals at the Kennedy Center.

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