Author Archives: akuhars1

Jeff Sugg ’95 wins OBIE Award

At the annual OBIE Awards for Off-Broadway theater in Manhattan on Monday, May 19th, Jeff Sugg ’95 shared an award for design for the critically-acclaimed new musical THE SLUG BEARERS OF KAYROL ISLAND. Jeff shared credit with John (Jim) Findlay for the Set & Projection Design for the show, and shared the OBIE Award with Findlay and with cartoonist Ben Katchor and Lighting Designer Russell H. Champa.

Jeff Sugg majored in scenograghy and directing in the Department of Theater at Swarthmore, and was a long-time member of Pig Iron Theatre Company, for which he designed CAFETERIA, POET IN NEW YORK, and other productions. He has been a frequent participant in the Swarthmore Project in Theater since his graduation, and taught the Department’s first class in Media & Technology Design in 2005. He served as guest artist on the Theater Department’s production of Robert Auletta’s adaptation of Aeschylus’ THE PERSIANS in 2005, directed by Erin Mee.

Jeff regularly collaborates with his wife musician/performance artist Cynthia Hopkins and Jim Findlay as part of their own critically-acclaimed company ACCINOSCO. ACCINOSCO has twice been in residence on campus through the Swarthmore Project in Theater, and has appeared in the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and on national and international tours in addition to New York City, where they are based.

Awards for Theater Alums Michal Zadara ’99 and Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel ’94

The Theater Department has recently received news of major awards for three alums, one of whom is also a part-time faculty member.

Martin Carrillo ’97 will receive a 2008 Garland Award at a ceremony on March 31st in Southland for his sound design of Paradise Lost: Shadows and Wings. The production, described by one critic as an “epic fusion of musical theatre, opera, martial arts, and even world-class anime,” featured a diverse set of musical styles, including operatic, rock, Broadway, electronic techno, and Asian drumming. Carrillo’s work, noted by some as “eerie” and “decibel-shattering,” also garnered him an Ovation Award, his second. Carrillo is principal sound designer for Current Television’s “SuperNews,” an animated series that takes a satirical look at U.S. politics.

Michal (Mike) Zadara ’99 won the annual PASSPORT Award for Theater in Warsaw for his directorial work to date, which consists of twelve professional productions in Poland and Germany since 2004, including his debut at the National Theater in Warsaw in 2007. The PASSPORT Award is given by the weekly news magazine POLITYKA and has no exact theatrical counterpart in the US, but carries the same prestige as the Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award. One such award is given each year in literature, music, art, film, and theater. The published award citation for Zadara noted his “impressive creative output” and how his productions “restore faith in theater as a space of artistic freedom.” There will also be a two-week festival showcasing five of Zadara’s productions in Warsaw, March 29-April 12, 2008. Michal Zadara graduated from Swarthmore with an honors major in directing in Theater and a minor in Political Science, and in 2004 graduated from the postgraduate directing program of the Krakow State Drama School, where he studied under the renowned Polish director Krystian Lupa. Michal has worked with directing students in the College’s Poland Program since 2004.

Gabriel Quinn Bauriedel ’94 was one of six actors nationally awarded a Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship, in the category of those demonstrating “Extraordinary Potential.” The fellowship carries a significant cash award both to Bauriedel and to Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia, in which he is a founding member and co-artistic director together with Dan Rothenberg ’94 and Dito Van Reigersberg ’94. Quinn was commencement speaker for his graduating class in 1994, graduated from the L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris in 1997, was awarded a Luce Fellowship in theater to Bali in 2000-2001, and was the first College alumnus hired to teach in the Department of Theater in 2002. He has annually served as a part-time assistant professor of acting since that time. Details of the award can be found by visiting the GRANTS section of the Theatre Communications Group (TCG). The award was announced in the January issue of AMERICAN THEATRE magazine.

Senior Company presents INNOCENCE/ Unschuld by Dea Loher

The Department of Theater at Swarthmore College presents the North American premier of contemporary German playwright Dea Loher‘s 2003 play INNOCENCE/ Unschuld on the weekend of December 7-9, 2007, in the Frear Ensemble Theater in the Lang Performing Arts Center (LPAC). The production uses David Tushingham’s translation of Loher’s play. The performances will take place at 8:30 pm Friday & Saturday, December 7 & 8, and at 3 pm on Saturday & Sunday, December 8 & 9.

Dea Loher is one of the leading young playwrights of the contemporary German stage, and her plays are increasingly produced internationally, as well. She was a student of the acclaimed playwright Heiner Müller, who served at the end of his life as the artistic director of the historic Berliner Ensemble, founded by Bertolt Brecht. INNOCENCE follows the tragicomic intersections of the lives of a set of contemporary characters, including a blind erotic dancer, two illegal African immigrants who unwittingly witness the suicide of a young woman, and a frustrated female philosopher determined to prove her thesis on the “unreliability” of our experience and understanding of the world. Loher’s subtly poetic play creates a cast of vivid characters that repeatedly discover mystery at the heart of their seemingly mundane lives.

Rachel Sugar ’08 creates original production based on the lives of Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and Assia Wevill

The Department of Theater presents Mad Girl’s Love Song, Thursday through Saturday, October 4th through 6th at 8 pm in the Frear Ensemble Theater, Lang Performing Arts Center. Conceived, written and performed by Senior Honors Theater student Rachel Sugar ’08 and directed by Kym Moore, Love Song asks: what happens when the boundary between life and art dissolves?

“Dying is an art/ Like everything else,” wrote poet Sylvia Plath. Using the art they made from their lives and the lives they drew from their art, Mad Girl’s Love Song takes us to the house where Plath, her husband Ted Hughes, and his mistress Assia Wevill became inexorably tangled together. As the three grow haunted by the ghosts of each other and their pasts, Love Song asks what it means to be a woman and an artist.

In the summer of 2007, Kym and Rachel began collaborating on what has become Love Song. In a biography of Plath, they found the phrase that sparked the work: “[Assia] was so beautiful, and kept on talking about Sylvia, and I thought that she has serious identity problems, and is breaking down…she had no chance, she was doomed from the start. Professionally I would say she had a counter-phobic reaction, and wanted to demonstrate that she was not afraid of Sylvia’s demon. For her own good, she would have been much better off not to sleep in Sylvia’s bed.” Armed with a vision for a piece that grappled with the two women’s quests for identity and authorship, Kym and Rachel began to generate material using Anne Bogart’s Viewpoints and the writings of Plath, Hughes, Wevill, and their biographers. In its current incarnation, the script of Love Song is a collage of original and found texts, shaped into a single story.

The Riot Group to perfThe Riot Group to perform world premiere by acclaimed playwright Adriano Shaplin

The William J. Cooper Foundation and the Department of Theatre present the world premiere of Hearts of Man, the newest performance by American playwright/actor/director Adriano Shaplin and his company The Riot Group on Sunday, September 9 at 7:30 pm in the Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC. Hearts of Man is co-presented by the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and co-commissioned by the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington, Vermont. In addition, The Riot Group will perform the Philadelphia premiere of Pugilist Specialist, the company’s most acclaimed work, on Friday, September 14 and Saturday, September 15 at 7:30 pm in the Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC. A post-show discussion with Adriano Shaplin and members of The Riot Group will follow the performances on September 9th and 14th. All performances are free and open to the public without reservations.

Adriano Shaplin (b. 1979) is the co-founder and guiding spirit of The Riot Group, which was established while he and his collaborators were still students at Sarah Lawrence University. Shaplin initially established a tie with the Department of Theater at Swarthmore College through his collaboration with the Pig Iron Theater Company on their 2004 production of Hell Meets Henry Halfway, which was created and first performed on campus with the support of the Swarthmore Project in Theater. In spring 2006, he taught a playwriting workshop class in the Department of Theater. Later that year, Shaplin was named the first Playwright-in-Residence of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

The company will offer a two day workshop while on campus, September 12 & 13 from 4:10-6:40pm in Pearson-Hall Theatre, LPAC. Students may sign up in the Theater Department office (Room 13, LPAC).

Jonathan Franzen ’81 comes to Spring Awakening

On Saturday, March 31 at 7pm – Swarthmore alumnus Jonathan Franzen will attend a performance of his translation of Wedekind’s Spring Awakening and will follow the performance with a talkback discussion.

The Department of Theater presents Frank Wedekind’s controversial modern classic Spring Awakening, on Friday, March 30 at 4:30pm, Saturday, March 31 at 2pm & 7pm, and Sunday, April 1 at 7pm in the Pearson-Hall Theater, LPAC.

Re-imagined in a ruined public bathroom, this darkly comic drama depicts matters as profane and sublime as sexual awakening, academic pressure, and the question of religion through the giddy and tempestuous kaleidoscope of adolescence.

This masterpiece of German Expressionism is translated by Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections, winner of the National Book Award, Swarthmore class of ‘81. Franzen’s translation was originally commissioned by Professor Emeritus Lee Devin in 1986, when it was performed on campus in a production directed by Abigail Adams of The People’s Light and Theatre Company. This is only the second time the translation has been performed, and the text is now scheduled for publication by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in Fall 2007.

K. Elizabeth Stevens, Assistant Professor of Acting and Directing, makes her directing debut at Swarthmore College, guiding a cast of 18 students. Costumes and sets designed by Marsha Ginsberg, Assistant Professor and Resident Set & Costume Designer. Lighting Design by James P. Murphy. Saturday evening performance will be followed by a talkback with translator Jonathan Franzen ‘81.

All performances and the talkback are free and open to the public without reservations. Early arrival is strongly recommended, as seating is limited.

Those who wish to attend the Saturday talkback with Jonathan Franzen but not the Saturday evening performance should arrive at 9:45pm.

Warning: this play is intended for adult audiences. Production contains nudity, graphic sexuality, strong language, and cigarette smoking. Jonathan Franzen’s presence is made possible with the generous support of the President’s Office, the Department of English Literature, the German Section of the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures. For more information, call (610) 957-6164 or email

New Friends with Special Talents

Marsha Ginsberg is a scenic and costume designer teaching both disciplines in the Theater Department part time. She says, “My design work will be featured this autumn in an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in New York City. The Design Triennial, which highlights the work of selected designers and architects from many diverse disciplines. Additionally, I am a photographer and have started showing my work at a gallery in Berlin.”

She says of her work at Swarthmore, “Given that there has not been someone in this position on a regular basis, part of my mission at Swarthmore is to raise the awareness of the visual/spatial within the theater curriculum. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am the designer in residence, which entails designing both sets and costumes for the faculty-directed/student-acted production that is presented in the spring. I am also focused on mentoring students in the design are on both theoretical and realized projects. Lastly, I interact with both the scene shop and the costume shop, which implement the visual designs for all department productions as well as serve as an educational arena for students.”

Marsha’s previous teaching positions have been in the Architecture School at Parsons School of Design; Wesleyan; Dartmouth; and the University of California-Los Angeles, Department of Theater and Film. She also continues to maintain an active career as a freelance stage designer.

Fall 2006 News

This fall, the Department of Theater is pleased to welcome Melinda Finberg to the department as visiting professor of Production Dramaturgy.

In other news, Swarthmore College theater professor Allen Kuharski has been named winner of the 2006 Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Award by the Polish chapter of the International Theatre Institute-UNESCO in Warsaw. The award is given in recognition of his accomplishments in “raising awareness of Polish theatrical culture around the world.”

Kuharski, associate professor of theater, resident director, and theater department chair at Swarthmore, is a leading authority on contemporary Polish theater and dance. He has created and led a variety of programs and actions that have linked the college to leading theater institutions in Poland. Among them: a reciprocal residency program with the Silesian Dance Theater of Bytom, Poland, two campus symposiums at Swarthmore about Polish dance and theater, and the selection of acclaimed Polish choreographer Jacek Luminski to serve as Swarthmore’s Lang Visiting Professor of Social Change in 2001. In addition, Kuharski serves as co-director of Swarthmore’s Semester Abroad in Poland program, which has sent two dozen Swarthmore students to Poland since its establishment in 2000.

As winner of this year’s Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz Award, Kuharski will travel to Poland in October as a guest of the Polish Ministry of Culture and the National Theater. He will receive a diploma and a sculpture by a contemporary Polish artist at an event held in his honor.

New faculty and staff!

The Department of Theater is happy to announce the changes in our faculty for the current year. We wish Professor Ulla Neuerburg-Denzer well as she departs for a new position at Ramapo College of New Jersey. We are pleased to welcome Marsha Ginsberg, our new assistant professor and resident set and costume designer.

Also joining us this fall semester to teach acting is Emmanuelle Delpech-Ramey of the Pig Iron Theater Company. In spring of ’06, we will be joined by K. Elizabeth Stevens, assistant professor of acting and directing, and Adriano Shaplin of the Riot Group who will teach playwriting.

We are also happy to welcome three new staff members, Jean Tierno as Administrative Assistant for the Department of Theater, Laila Swanson as Costume Shop Supervisor, and Felicia Leicht as Arts Administration Intern.