MC's Theatre Events Coordinator has 'amazing' summer at PICT

Melissa Grande's fall semester is beginning a little later than everyone else at Marietta College.

But when she returns part-time on Aug. 29 the Theatre Events Coordinator is bringing a slew of new ideas to the College's Theatre Department.

"It has been an amazing summer," said Grande, who also teaches classes at MC. "I haven't learned so much at any other time in my career. I've got all sorts of ideas up my sleeve."

Grande is wrapping up her duties as assistant director and dramaturg (literary advisor and historian) on the production of "Henry" at the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre on Sept. 3. She returns full-time to MC soon after this date.

According to the organization's website, The Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre was founded in 1996 to diversify the region's theatrical offerings by providing Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania audiences with high-quality, text-driven, affordable productions of classical theatre and the works of classical and contemporary Irish playwrights and to significantly improve employment opportunities for local talent in all facets of theatrical presentation and production. PICT is a Small Professional Theatre (SPT) affiliated with Actors' Equity Association, and a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) and the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance.

Grande has been working with renowned Irish playwright Thomas Kilroy since July 21. "He's a brilliant man," Grande said. "I've gotten to watch how Tom revises a new play. Watching how a master playwright revises a play is very interesting."

PICT commissioned Kilroy to update Italian master Luigi Pirandello's "Enrico IV" and drag his mad King kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. In "a form of privileged conversation with the author," Kilroy has retained the central essence and theatricality of the original while infusing it with a thoroughly contemporary sensibility. Developed jointly with the legendary Northern Irish Theatre Company Field Day and directed by PICT Artistic Director Andrew S. Paul, "Henry" will perform in Pittsburgh before touring internationally. Performances run Aug. 25 through Sept. 17 in the Charity Randall Theatre.

"Watching how quickly Andrew can get through work with professional actors has taught me a lot about things I can use back at Marietta," Grande said.

Grande met Paul in passing about a year ago, but was also referred to him by a Marietta alum.

"Irish Theatre was an area of interest when I got my master's degree at Ohio University," she said. "Andrew came to OU to see something I directed there and we had a number of meetings before I got the job."

Grande, who already has a Master of Arts in Theatre History and Criticism, is now working on her Master of Fine Arts degree in Directing. She started part-time last September and hopes to finish by 2008.

Her work at Ohio University helped her land another job earlier this summer when she directed Showcase Reading at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago on June 12.

"I was there for three to four days," Grande said. "It's a Tony Award winning theatre."

Grande will be busy when she returns to Marietta and will be teaching an Irish drama course in the spring.

"We'll definitely study Kilroy," she said.