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Acting majors host inaugural Fellows' New Works Festival - Feb. 25-27

Three Elon University seniors debut original stage productions this week in Yeager Recital Hall for a program that celebrates their creativity as Honors and Elon College fellows in the Department of Performing Arts. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. each night.

From left: Elon University seniors Caroline Klidonas, Jared Allen and Emily Guernsey organized the inaugural Fellows' New Works Festival.

The first is a one-man performance inspired by the life of Charlie Chaplin. The second is a love story told half in English and half in French. The third is a play that re-opens the lost ambiguity of fairytales in a contemporary context.

Three original shows by three Elon University acting majors debut this week in Yeager Recital Hall when the trio host the inaugural Fellows' New Works Festival, a student-organized project that serves as capstone experiences for two Honors Fellows and an Elon College Fellow.

Jared Allen, Caroline Klidonas and Emily Guernsey have worked for more than two years to organize the festival. Their efforts culminate in free shows that run in repertory for three nights beginning Tuesday.

“Lost in the Limelight” (Feb. 25-26)
Written by Jared Allen, Honors Fellow

“toi, toujours” (Feb. 25 & 27)
Written by Emily Guernsey, Elon College Fellow

“Contra: a life” (Feb. 26-27)
Written by Caroline Klidonas, Honors Fellow

Faculty and staff, and members of the public, should email plindquist@elon.edu for reservations with “The Fellows’ New Works Festival Reservation Request” included in the subject line. Students are admitted for free with ID and no reservations are required.

The festival was intended to give artists an opportunity to “workshop” their productions. Bringing the shows to Yeager Recital Hall, which the students consider the most intimate venue for campus performances, will foster a stronger connection with audience members.

“We wanted to set up an environment where pieces are being … tried out and put on their feet for the first time,” said Allen, a native of Campbell, N.Y., who traveled to Italy to visit the Charlie Chaplin Archives as research for his performance. “There’s the understanding between the audience and the performers that this isn’t ‘the real thing’ and that there’s room for us to grow.”

Elon University senior Jared Allen is the writer and star of a one-man show inspired by the life of Charlie Chaplin.

More than simple playwriting, the project gave the seniors an opportunity for self-reflection. Guernsey, a native of North Yarmouth, Maine, drew inspiration from her own life events as she crafted the love story between a Frenchman and an American woman.

“I learned about myself in the process. It was almost meditative,” Guernsey said. “I grew as a person as I acknowledged parts of myself that I hadn’t addressed yet. It’s almost like writing therapy.”

Creating new shows will serve the seniors well as they enter show business in the months ahead, they said.

“We’re always told it will be really hard to find auditions, so an important skill to have will be to create your own work,” said Klidonas, a native of York, Pa. “And I hope it becomes a tradition in the department to really celebrate new work. It’s a risky and scary process, but we have a very supportive community here at Elon, and there’s no better place to do it.”

The trio were guided in their pursuits of the Fellows' New Works Festival by their advisers, Associate Professor Kevin Otos and Associate Professor Kirby Wahl.

For more information on the program, visit the Fellows' New Works Festival Facebook event page.

Eric Townsend,
2/24/2014 2:00 PM