MRT Appoints New Director For Young Company, Its Professional Theatre Training Program For High School Students

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) invites high schools students to register for Young Company, a professional theatre training program and one of MRT's signature education initiatives. Will Rogers, a creative producer, director, and performer, will become the new director for the 2018-19 session. Guest teaching artists this year include MRT alums-playwright, director, and actor Vichet Chum (KNYUM) and fight choreographer Angie Jepson (The Villains' Supper Club)-as well as Los Angeles-based acting teacher Richard Liccardo.

With many youth theatre summer programs to choose from, Young Company stands out for its commitment to engaging teens in the whole theatre-making experience-from writing to performance and more-not just during the summer, but throughout the entire school year.

A three-week summer program (July 16 to August 3, 2018) is followed by insider opportunities throughout MRT's 2018-19 Season (September 2018 to May 2019). Nationally recognized playwrights, actors, and directors will work closely with students to develop their own voice in their scripts and learn about performing improv, musical theatre, and modern approaches to acting and auditioning. The final presentation on the MRT stage in Lowell will showcase material created by the members of Young Company, alongside scenes from the works of today's leading playwrights, performed by students.

During the school year, Young Company students will learn from industry professionals featured in MRT's 40th Anniversary Season of seven plays, which includes three world premieres, musicals, comedies, a new adaptation of a lost novel by Lowell's own Jack Kerouac, and a holiday play based on characters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

"Having the opportunity to explore and create theater with young people is one of the most artistically invigorating things I get to do," said Will Rogers, director of Young Company. "MRT's commitment to developing new voices, along with the diversity of the Greater Boston region, has incredible promise to provide a space where emerging artists can begin to find and amplify the things they have to say. My hope for this summer is to make sure that students understand the importance of the stories they have to tell. Whether they identify as actors, writers, directors-or some amalgam I've never imagined-my objective is to get them to bring their experiences to the theater and begin shaping artistic voices that will one day fill stages all over the country."

Will Rogers is a creative producer, director, and performer who focuses on the development of interdisciplinary work. Most recently, Rogers' work has focused on the collision of culinary and performing arts with the creation of Plateful Company (platefulcompany.com). He also developed and directed monologist Arlene Malinowski'sA Little Bit Not Normal, a solo play intended to create dialogue around the subject of mental illness. In 2014, Rogers produced Living the History, the 125th anniversary celebration of Chicago's famed Auditorium Theater (starring Patti LuPone, John Mahoney, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Joffrey Ballet, and others). Rogers is a Ragdale Foundation alum and created and developed the performance track for Ragdale's High School Arts Week, a free program for students in the Chicago area. He has been on the faculty of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs, CO, directing and developing work with young artists. Rogers was Associate Producer at Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater for seven years, during which time he also served as Casting Director and curator of the alternative programming series, Fresh Squeezed. For three years he co-directed Victory Gardens' Access Project, creating and presenting work by artists with disabilities. As a director, his work has been seen at Victory Gardens, Chicago Dramatists, Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, 16th Street Theater, FronteraFest, Salvage Vanguard, and others. He has also produced work for Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago Commercial Collective, The New Colony, Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs, Chicago Community Trust, Austin Lyric Opera, and Spoleto Festival USA.

Vichet Chum wrote and starred in the world premiere of KNYUM at MRT this season. He is a Cambodian-American actor, writer, director & theater maker, originally from Dallas, Texas and now living in the best city in the world, New York City. Regionally, he's worked at Trinity Repertory Company, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Guthrie Theater, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, the Huntington Theatre Company, Everyman Theatre, New Harmony Theatre, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre. In NYC, he's worked at the Cherry Lane Theater, Pan Asian Repertory Theatre, the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, Project Y Theatre, Woodshed Collective, Slant Theatre Project and the Incubator Arts Project. His plays have been workshopped at Second Generation Productions, Weston Playhouse, Cleveland Public Theatre, All For One Theater and Amios. He's also a co-founder and resident member of the arts company The Group Lab (thegrouplab.com). Last, but certainly not least, he is a proud graduate of the University of Evansville (BFA) and Brown University/Trinity Repertory Company (MFA). vichetchum.com

Angie Jepson was the fight choreographer for MRT's The Villains' Supper Club this season. She is a fight director, actress, and professor in the Boston area. Fight directing credits include: Tiger Style!, Becoming Cuba, and M with the Huntington Theatre Company, Romeo and Juliet with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Fences with Gloucester Stage Company, The Scottsboro Boys, Appropriate, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, and Bad Jews with SpeakEasy Stage Company, Camelot with New Repertory Theatre, and Guards at the Tajwith Central Square Theatre, among many others. As an actress, Angie has worked with many of the same companies, and as a professor, Angie currently teaches at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, The American Repertory Theatre Institute program, the New England Conservatory, and UMass Boston.

Richard Liccardo is a Los Angeles based teacher, actor, and director. He started his career in New York, and quickly began globe hopping, teaching and performing on three continents. He spent several years working with local drama groups, teaching schools, writers, and journalists in Kenya devising and performing short plays relating to existing health issues impacting the community. After returning to the United States, Liccardo taught acting, voice and speech, physical character and movement, and improvisation with the Denver Center Theatre Academy, Perry Mansfield Performing Arts School, Colorado Theatre Guild, The Rage, and the Joffrey Ballet School's summer intensive. Most recently he spent three months in Dachang "Movie Town" China with the Studio School Workshops and in LA with the Studio School BFA program. As an actor, Richard most recently played Stephen Spettigue in Charles Aunt and Planchet in Three Musketeers both for the Denver Center Theatre Company as well as Chorus Two in Bob: A Life In Five Acts for the Echo Theatre Company in Los Angeles. He also a voice over artist and can be heard in Colorado Tourisms "Come to Life" campaign commercials as the voice of Colorado tourism for 5 years running. Liccardo received his MFA from the National Theatre Conservatory.

Young Company has both a summer session and school year component:

2018 Summer Program Dates

July 16 - August 3, 2018

Monday - Friday, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Our three-week summer session engages students in theatre-making from many angles: acting, creative writing, improvisation, movement, and more. Students work with professional theatre artists and create an original presentation, based on their own stories. The summer session concludes with a performance of students' work on the MRT stage.

Young Company continues to meet during MRT's 2018-19 Season, offering a window into the fascinating work of professional theatre artists. Opportunities include:

Rehearsal and Tech Observation: Students watch acting and technical rehearsals of select MRT productions, seeing them unfold all the way to opening night.

Workshop Attendance: Students can sit in on workshops of the brand new plays MRT is developing with nationally-renowned playwrights.

Master Classes and Artist Talks: MRT staff and artists offer classes and discussions, sharing their own expertise and experience.

Eligibility: Any student entering grades 9-12 in the Fall of 2018.

2018 Pricing: $450 per student, includes participation in summer and year-round programs.

Registration: Registrations are due by June 30, 2018. A non-refundable $100 registration deposit is due at time of registration and full tuition is due by June 30. You can register:

1. ONLINE at mrt.org/youngcompany.

2. BY PHONE by calling 978-654-4678 during Box Office hours.

3. IN PERSON at the theatre during Box Office hours.

4. BY MAIL with a printed registration form available from will.rogers@mrt.org.

Location: Young Company takes place at Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the rehearsal hall and at the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre at Liberty Hall.

Scholarship Opportunities & Payment Plans: Need-based scholarships are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Payment plans are also available.

Young Company Contact: Will Rogers, Young Company Director, will.rogers@mrt.org, 978-654-7562.



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