Posting Date: July 2, 2012

KSU theatre students to perform in Morocco
Students connect to Moroccan culture through Jean Cocteau

By Alyssa Sellors

KSU theatre students rehearse "The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party"
Photo by Tracie L. Hinnant

Ten Kennesaw State University theatre and performance studies students will travel to Casablanca, Morocco in July to perform at the annual Fesitval International de Théåtre Universitaire de Casablanca sponsored by Hassan II Ben M'sik University. The production will be “The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party,” a surrealist farce by Jean Cocteau that is set on the first platform of the Eiffel Tower, where a photographer attempts to capture the perfect photo of a wedding party. Chaos ensues as unlikely creatures—an ostrich, a bathing beauty, a ravenous lion—escape from the camera each time the photographer tries to snap the shot.

Before the festival begins, program activities will include lectures on Moroccan and Islamic culture presented by Hassan II professors in Casablanca and an intercultural storytelling workshop focusing on oral histories and storytelling that joins the KSU students with Moroccan students from the university. During the festival, the students will participate in performance workshops and attend productions presented by troupes from many different countries. The trip will also include visits to cultural sites in Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh.

Co-directors Karen Robinson, associate professor, and Margaret Baldwin, lecturer in the theatre department, chose this play for their international audience because of the strong ties in Morocco to French culture and because the play is “highly physical and inventive,” says Robinson. “We think this will play well for an international audience that speaks many different languages.” “The Eiffel Tower Wedding Party” is a “playful and witty surrealist romp, with colorful and engaging action,” explains Robinson. “This piece represents the adventurous and imaginative range of performance genres that characterize the work of the KSU Department of Theatre and Performance Studies.”

KSU students have performed this piece before in October of 2011, but this production features a different cast. While the actors are working with a fully translated version, they have put some of the original French back into this production, adding to the many challenges for the performance. “Performing for an audience that does not necessarily speak their language will nurture the actors' ability to perform with heightened clarity and dynamism, abilities that can carry over to their work in other contexts,” says Robinson.

Translating the play to a new audience, in a different context, along with the physical nature of this piece is a challenge for performers, but the students are looking forward to this international experience. Bringing her art overseas, theatre student Megan Jance sees the experience as a welcome opportunity to “prove the impact of theatre on people and other cultures.” Abbey Sanders agrees and appreciates theatre as a collaboration between the actor and the audience.”

Students will benefit from this experience in a myriad of ways but beyond the preparation, planning and training, students will walk away with lifelong lessons. “I hope to come away with a greater understanding and appreciation for all people,” says Jance, “and as for my art, I hope to learn how to transmit what I wish to greater types of audiences to gain a new, outside perspective and a new sense of empathy.”

The trip will introduce students to people, ideas and values from all around the world. “I am looking forward, says Sanders, to coming home with the realization that no matter what language you speak, where you come from, or what religion you follow, acting is universal.”



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