Students Work Alongside Professional Actors in HPU’s “Waiting for Godot”

Ed Simpson, theatre department chair, will star as Vladimir.

Ed Simpson, theatre department chair, will star as Vladimir.

Professional actors with experience in stage, film and television rehearse one of the most influential plays of our time at the Hayworth Fine Arts Center on High Point University’s campus. Helping run the entire show? HPU junior Rachel Garrett.

“Before this, I had really only worked with student performances,” says Garrett. “It was challenging but fun to shift gears and not only learn from but work with my professors and other professional actors.”

Garrett is one of seven HPU theatre majors working with the department’s new Extension Project. The summer program is designed to put selected theatre majors in a professional setting, where they can focus solely on the performance, and to provide the entire High Point Waiting for Godotcommunity with an additional cultural experience for the year.

For their first year, the project is putting on an all-equity (actors’ union) production of “Waiting for Godot.”

The production stars guest actors David Wells, whose credits include “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Basic Instinct,” House,” “My Name is Earl,” “Big Love,” “Six Feet Under,” “CSI,” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” as Estragon; Michael Kamtman, who has performed at the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival, Triad Stage and Paper Lantern Theatre, as Lucky; and 9-year-old Trinity resident Landon Wall, who has appeared in film, television and several local stage productions at the High Point Community Theatre and The Lexington Theatre.

Ed Simpson, theatre department chair, will also star in the performance as Vladimir and Doug Brown, HPU assistant professor of theatre, will play Pozzo.

“This play deals with big ideas and themes. It’s funny and it’s frightening; it’s impossible to come out of this play and not have a conversation about what you just saw,” says Simpson.

The HPU theatre majors are working as part of the company as stage managers, lighting and sound directors, stage design and other vital backstage roles. They will also be performing a special, one-act , comedic response play to “Waiting for Godot,” called “Standing Up V and E” after the Saturday night performances.

“With this program we’re doing more and learning at a faster pace,” says Garrett. “I’m learning things I don’t think I would have had the chance to learn in a traditional class setting. We’re also working with Equity actors so there are different rules that apply, and now I can say I’m experienced in an Equity setting.”

“I think it’s important for our students to see us do what we teach,” says play director Jay Putnam, assistant professor of theatre. “I think at first they were a little surprised at by how fast we were putting this together; how much time, dedication and passion we are putting into it. I think we will see them bring that same dedication to their work during the school year.”

“They’ve modeled professionalism,” says Garrett. “I think that’s the main thing we’re taking away. We have to stay on top of our work and our lives to get everything done. I’m confident now that I’ll be able to do this in the real world. I’ll be comfortable walking into a professional company, I’ll know how to handle different Equity rules and be able to deal with diverse personalities because now I’ve done it.”

“Waiting for Godot” will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 15-18, Aug. 23-25 and at 2 p.m. on Aug. 16 and 23 in the Pauline Theatre of the Hayworth Fine Arts Center. It is open to the public and tickets are available for purchase by contacting the HPU box office at Hayworth Fine Arts Center at 336-841-4673. The proceeds from all performances will benefit HPU theatre scholarships.

For more information on the performance, click here:

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