School of Theatre & Dance
British International Theatre Program

Ravens - TheatreUSF 2014 BRIT Production

Presented by the BRIT Program

Spring 2014

Directed by Helen Tennison
Playwright: Kate Kerrow
Sound Design and Composition: Matt Eaton
Video and Projection Design: Eva Auster

Performance Dates & Times:
Feb 20-22 and Feb 26-March 1 at 8pm
Feb 23 and March 2 at 3pm

TAR 120, inside the Theatre Center, USF Tampa Campus

Director, Helen Tennison
Writer, Kate Kerrow

An original play exploring the lives of three courageous women across history against the backdrop of an ever-changing America. This piece will incorporate movement and video projection in the storytelling. Story created by the company of student actors with Helen Tennison and Kate Kerrow. Writer, Kate Kerrow; directed by Helen Tennison, director of last year’s Titus Andronicus.

Notes from the Director:
When I was approached with the initial brief for Ravens I was hugely excited for three reasons.  The first reason was that I was absolutely delighted to be able to work with all the students and faculty at USF again.  The second reason was the opportunity to make a piece about women’s experience.  The theatrical cannon offers greater visibility and diversity in its portrayal of the male meaning that there is a wealth of unexplored female experience just waiting to be staged.
Finally, the devising process is inspiring, deeply creative, and particularly empowering for young actors.  You begin with no script and the piece emerges gradually through the collaborative work of all involved- anything could happen! All of the themes explored and characters created came from the ideas of the group as a whole and all the choreography and scenes that you see in Ravens are based on improvisations created with the actors over the last 6 weeks.  During these improvisations we found a collective interest in the symbolic nature of the bird.  We loved that birds captured the essence of freedom, yet we wanted to challenge the traditional image of women as a fragile, beautiful birds - just as the characters in our stories challenge or are challenged by the traditional gender identities assigned to them.  We chose to call the show Ravens because in Native American lore, the Raven symbolizes transgression, transformation and empowerment.

Supported by the British International Theatre Endowment.

Photos from the performance:


The narrative occurs in three interwoven eras: 1858, 1926 and 2014

1858 The Schafer home, a small family farm just outside Knoxville, East Tennessee.
Ellen Schafer, Eldest Sister - Hannah Martin
Marian Schafer, Middle Sister - Jenna McCarthy
Alice Schafer, Youngest Sister - Louisa Pastorius
Hannah Marshall, Activist - Sigourney Forrester
Charles Schafer, Uncle - Josh Moody

The action takes place in and around the Clam House, an underground cabaret club in Harlem which allowed inter-racial mixing and was the hub of the lesbian and gay network.

Also Hazeldene House, Cora’s home.
Ida Milsom, Headline Cabaret Artist - Kaena Hood
Cora Hazeldene, Flapper - Sarah Norris
Grace Hazeldene, Cora’s Mother - Jenna McCarthy
Thoda Hood, Cabaret Artist - Sigourney Forrester
Mina Miller, Wife of Clam House Owner - Selena Frey
Mable Penfold, Ventriloquist - Shelby McDonell

Flappers and dancers played by the ensemble

2014 The Hernandez family home in Tampa

Theresa Hernandez, Mother Shelby McDonell
Ana Hernandez, Sister Selena Frey
Carmen Hernandez, Bride Cristina Blanco
Zola Swaby, Mother’s Friend Sigourney Forrester
Celia Perez, Bride’s cousin Louisa Pastorius

British International Theatre Program   
When the artistic directors, Hinks and Elaine Shimberg, Lisel and John Gale and Denis Calandra first discussed the idea of the British International Theatre Program (BRIT), little did they anticipate the success it would turn out to be. With the financial assistance of Hinks and Elaine Shimberg, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, Dan Doyle and the State of Florida Matching Grant Program, the BRIT Program has now become an established annual event and is the envy of many universities in the U.S.A. and even some conservatories!

For years the British International Theatre Program has sought out professional directors and choreographers, leading actors in theatre, television and film, voice and speech experts and top rate designers. These artists have brought their knowledge and experience in British classical theatre and contemporary cutting edge theatre to the students at USF. We are privileged to have our students partake of this classical and contemporary training, and we are eager to work with our British cousins on the continuing development of this marvelous tradition. We will be forever thankful and grateful to the founders and their vision for our USF School of Theatre and Dance.

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