UMD Theatre takes "Spoon River" to France

BY ADAM QUANDT | The Statesman Performing on the stage in the Marshall Performing Arts Center is one thing, but what about performing in another country?

Nine UMD students and four faculty members returned last week from a weeklong stay in Lyon, France.

The once in a lifetime opportunity is a result of an exchange program the School of Fine Arts participates in with the Conservatoire de Lyon. The exchange was made possible with the help of SFA’s Dean, Bill Payne.

The exchange began in February 2015 when six French students and four faculty members came to UMD to participate in a variety of workshops with UMD students. The Conservatoire’s students concluded their weeklong U.S. stay with a performance, done entirely in French, on the MPAC main stage.

“It (the performance) was mesmerizing,” SFA faculty member and “Spoon River” director, Tom Isbell said.

The UMD students and faculty then traveled to the Conservatoire de Lyon and participated in a series of workshops and concluded their stay with a performance of “Spoon River,” which was originally featured on MPAC’s main stage this past October.

Following the performance of “Spoon River” on the French stage, the cast was called out for two encore curtain calls.

“The audience wouldn’t stop clapping, even when the house lights were turned up. It was a pretty special night,” Isbell said.

Isbell went on to explain that seeing the UMD and Conservatoire students interact with each other, despite not sharing a common language, was a very moving moment for him as a faculty member.

The students capped off their experience by attending The Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival in the Twin Cities area following their arrival back on U.S. soil.

UMD Theatre returns to its home stage at the Marshall Performing Arts Center in February with a performance of Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well.”

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