Fairmont State University Theatre Professor Dr. Francene Kirk and theatre education students Kelli Cooper and Dino Vergura have been selected to present a session at the 2019 American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) Conference, August 1-5 in New York City. AATE is a national organization that serves theatre artists, educators, and scholars committed to transforming young people and communities through the theatre arts. Dr. Kirk, Cooper, and Vergura will talk about the process of turning “Women’s Voices”, an oral history project about women age 60 and older, into three original theatre pieces – a reader’s theatre, a one-person “informance”, and a full-length main stage production.
During her time as the Abelina Suarez Professor, Dr. Kirk interviewed 30 women who were educated before Title IX was implemented in schools – a time when girls cheered on the sideline while boys played sports, when women could be kept out of medical school simply for being female, and when women were frequently called “girl” or “sweetie” in the workplace. Dr. Kirk and her students combed the transcripts of these interviews for stories and themes that were then used create scenes and monologues that were used in performance. During the process, the students explored topics such as the Second Wave of Feminism, Title IX, and the failure of the ERA. Dr. Kirk and the students also explored the use of common classroom strategies such as tableau, “role-on-a-wall” and “hot seating” as a means to performance.
Dino and Kelli’s first show at Fairmont State was “Woman’s Voices” the first production created from Dr. Kirk’s oral history project. They were a part of the original devising work for this project, along with the second production “Voices Realigned: Rewind, Revisit, Remember”.
Kelli Cooper is a junior theatre education student from Frederick, Maryland. She also is minoring in Outdoor Recreational Leadership and has made the Dean’s list for five consecutive semesters. Last summer, Kelli was a storyteller in the storytelling program at Authentic Community Theater, Inc., traveling around Washington County, Maryland, telling stories to all ages. Kelli has participated in multiple productions at Fairmont State, including “Boeing, Boeing” (Berthe), “Urinetown the Musical” (Josephine “Ma” Strong), and recently as the assistant director for “The Arkansaw Bear”.
Dino Vergura is a third year Fairmont State student who is currently studying theatre education. He was born to Catherine and Dino Vergura Sr. in Frederick, Maryland where he still resides. Dino has maintained his status on the Dean’s list for five semesters. He also participates in the School of Fine Arts theatre productions. During his time within the theatre program he has played Jack Stone in “Reefer Madness”, Officer Lockstock in “Urinetown the Musical”, and most recently The World’s Greatest Dancing Bear in “The Arkansaw Bear”. He is excited to assist in the AATE workshop in New York City this August.
Dr. Francene Kirk came to Fairmont State in 2000. She teaches theatre education, creative drama, communication arts, and storytelling. She has directed numerous plays and musicals including “Suessical, Oliver!”, “A Christmas Carol”, and “The Arkansaw Bear”. She recently performed her one-person “informance”, “9 Before IX”, at the Southeastern Theatre Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she also presented a session on how the production was created.