Theatre Lab: FAU's New Professional Resident Theatre Company
Theatre Lab will be dedicated to the development and production of new work in American theater, and will provide a training ground for FAU students.
Lou Tyrell has been named artistic director and Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Arts for this new initiative.
Florida Atlantic University recently announced the establishment of Theatre Lab, the professional resident company of FAU. Housed on the Boca Raton campus, Theatre Lab will be dedicated to the development and production of new work in American theater, and provide a training ground for FAU students interested in careers in professional theater or related arts fields.
Theatre Lab will provide a bridge for students from the academic to the professional world and also expose students and the South Florida community to new works in American theater. Louis Tyrrell, founding artistic director of Florida Stage and Theatre at Arts Garage, has been named artistic director and Dorothy F. Schmidt Eminent Scholar in the Arts for this new initiative.
“Theatre Lab will establish FAU as a force in the national professional theater movement,” said Tyrrell. “With the goal of making great theater accessible, Theatre Lab will bring thousands of community members together with the FAU faculty and student body, actively engaged by world-class professional theater experiences, as well as project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with leading playwrights and theatre artists, and other enrichment activities at the theater, across campus and throughout the community.”
While the campus location for a permanent black-box venue is being identified and constructed, Theatre Lab is operating temporarily on the ground floor of the Parliament Hall residence hall on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, where space has been transformed into an intimate 150-seat “theater in the raw,” ideal for staged readings, new play festivals and education outreach. There will also be beer, wine, drinks and snacks available for purchase.
Initial Theatre Lab programs will include several series:
- “Making Musicals” is a musical theater concert/play-reading series that will provide the South Florida community with an immersion into the newest work in American musical theater being written today. This series will take place on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m., from Oct. 17 through Nov. 8 beginning with the Drama Desk Award-winning “Fugitive Songs,” by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen. Admission is $20 ($10 with student ID) and a package of four shows is $64.
- “Play Slam” is a weekly festival of new play-readings with discussions including the playwright, director and cast. This series will be on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., from Oct. 21 through Nov. 11 with the first reading being “Bakersfield Mist,” by Stephen Sachs. Admission is $10 ($5 with student ID).
- “The Playwrights’ Forum” is a lecture/workshop/master-class program with some of America's most celebrated playwrights, including Marsha Norman, Steven Dietz, John Guare, Deborah Zoe Laufer, Lauren Gunderson, and Israel Horovitz. This series will commence on Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. with Israel Horovitz. Admission is $35 ($10 with student ID).
“There is no better environment than a university campus for a thought-provoking professional theater to do its best work,” said Desmond Gallant, chair of FAU’s Department of Theatre and Dance, who also serves as Theatre Lab’s producing director. “A cultural laboratory for learning, growing and expanding the horizons of knowledge, a theater that creates an artistic home on the university campus is a catalyst for exploring themes, ideas and issues relevant to every department at every college within the university sphere.”
Theatre Lab also will launch its innovative education outreach program, “Young Artists & Writers Project (YAWP).” YAWP is an initiative made possible by the Heckscher Foundation for Children, and will be led by Matt Stabile, Theatre Lab associate artistic director. YAWP, an expressive term taken from Walt Whitman’s iconic poem, “Song of Myself,” will develop the critical thinking and communication skills of young people, using theatre as a catalyst to discover a child’s personal voice through creative writing and performance. The program’s vision is centered on the idea that all art has its roots in storytelling. Each season, YAWP will work in conjunction with the Theatre Lab’s Main Stage Production series to choose themes from the selected plays that are relevant and important to the lives of today’s youth. Past themes have included cultural identity, conflict, first impressions, and disability/disadvantage. Theatre Lab then partners with local schools (grades 3-12) to provide up to 1,200 students per year (600 in each of the fall and spring semesters) with writing workshops and live-theater at no cost to the students.
“Imagine the relevance of a professional theater on campus, producing dramatic literature that tells stories about science, medicine, business, history, psychology, evolutionary biology, gender issues, family, courage, ethics, adventure, sport, human joys and fears, success and failure, dreams and aspirations, and every possible longing of the human heart,” said Heather Coltman, DMA, dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “These are all issues and ideas at the core of every course of study, every curriculum being offered by the university. Combined with lectures and workshops with scholars from each of these disciplines, Theatre Lab will enliven and invigorate, and deepen understanding of the foundation of knowledge on which the university has been built.”
For more information about the Theatre Lab at FAU, call 561-297-4784 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.