Penn State Centre Stage Virtual Announces New Date for COLERIDGE INTERRUPTED
Penn State Centre Stage Virtual will present Coleridge Interrupted, a whimsical comedy by Dan Carter, Friday, June 26, 2020, 8:00 p.m. EDT. PSCS Virtual presentations are free and donations benefit the School of Theatre Future Fund. The live performance can be viewed at sites.psu.edu/pscsvirtual.
In a series of short scenes, Samuel Taylor Coleridge is repeatedly interrupted by the mysterious Person from Porlock as he tries unsuccessfully to complete his poem Kubla Khan. The one-act comedy is based on an actual event-the one everyone heard about in English Literature class-where the entirety of the poem came to Coleridge in an opium-inspired flash of inspiration only to be lost when he was interrupted in the middle of capturing it on paper. Who the interloper was has been the subject of rampant speculation over the years, but remains a mystery. In a kind of topsy-turvy Groundhog Day, Coleridge is interrupted over and over, often by those with the best of intentions, occasionally by self-inflicted means but always with the same result: the loss of the poem to himself and posterity.
The production is filled with a star-packed cast, including Penn State professor emerita Jane Ridley, A. Bryan Humphrey, and Quinn Mattfeld, who worked together in PSCS productions of Noises Off and The Rivals. Mattfeld won a 2019 Broadway World Regional Tony Award for his performance as Hamlet for Utah Shakespeare Festival. He appeared on Broadway as Yepikhodov in The Cherry Orchard and as Mr. Wormwood in the National Tour of Matilda. The production also features Los Angeles actor and M.F.A. alumnus Bob Clendenin (Mixed-ish, Good Girls, Cougar Town), who starred as Roat in the PSCS production of Wait Until Dark, and Betsy Mugavero, an award-winning Shakespearean actor who makes her PSCS debut.
The new play is directed by Alexander Gelman (director of School of Theatre and Dance at Northern Illinois University and producing artistic director of the Organic Theater Company, Chicago), with art direction by Dan Robinson, sound and music by Curtis Craig, costume design by Alyssa Ridder, technical direction by Chris Swetcky, and stage management by Megan Belgam.
Penn State Centre Stage artistic director Rick Lombardo, award-winning stage director, artistic director, and playwright, chose the play because of his relationship with Carter and the chance to have several PSCS alumni involved in the production. "As we continue to explore ways to tell stories and make theatre in this time of social-distancing and shuttered theatres, this production will be our third consideration this summer in exploring these new modes. We are attempting to sharpen our use of these tools, preparing for the possibility that we may be using this platform to create art longer than we would like. Penn State Centre Stage Virtual can never replace the real thing, but as artists we need to keep pushing forward in our work," said Lombardo.
Carter was director of the Penn State School of Theatre and producing artistic director from 1995-2017. His concept for Coleridge Interrupted came to him in a flash when his wife, Ruby Allen, mentioned a reference to The Person from Porlock in a novel she was reading. "The piece came to me in a burst. I had the luxury of time to revisit and edit and keep refining, and ultimately I had the great good fortune to collaborate with other artists to further hone the play and make it performance-ready," said Carter. At the end of the day, Carter's guess is that his play is a series of comic riffs on all the things that conspire against us realizing our full potential. "I'm truly thrilled to have this play presented at what was-among other things-my artistic home for more than twenty years."
Penn State Centre Stage Virtual is offered free to the public and was created to support Penn State students during this difficult time. Please consider a donation to the School of Theatre Future Fund, which offers financial assistance to help offset the needs of students in the School of Theatre who are adversely impacted and in need of emergency assistance.