November 20, 2014

New York theatre company tasks SVSU to stage play before Buffalo production

Saginaw Valley State University theatre students and faculty will team with Buffalo-based Road Less Traveled Productions as SVSU produces the new play “Safe” one year before the New York theatre group puts on the show.

The collaboration will allow the playwright Donna Hoke and Road Less Traveled Productions staff to see the work at SVSU in November 2015 before it opens in New York in 2016.  David Rzeszutek, SVSU assistant professor of theatre, will direct the SVSU production.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us,” he said. “We're working with a new script and having direct contact with the playwright.”

Hoke will visit SVSU during the pre-production phase – possibly revising the text and exchanging ideas about the play's other elements – and plans to be in the audience for opening night at the campus.

After their production is done, SVSU theatre students won't be finished with the project.  As part of the collaboration, they will be invited to Buffalo to watch the Road Less Traveled Productions version of “Safe,” which examines social tolerance and high school bullying.

“We'll meet the professional cast and design team,” Rzeszutek said. “This project will offer a whole slew of learning opportunities for our students.”

Road Less Traveled Productions was founded in 2002, and has hosted productions that have included Hollywood actors such as Alec Baldwin and James Rebhorn. The company largely produces new plays not seen before on professional stages.

The company's collaboration with SVSU began when Scott Behrend, Road Less Traveled Productions' executive director, participated in a January symposium as part of SVSU's B.A.T. Project: Business, Art and Theatre Reinvent Urban Communities program.

The initiative involved efforts to establish arts in downtown spaces in cities along Michigan’s I-75 corridor. Road Less Traveled Productions was involved in a similar renaissance effort in Buffalo, and Behrend offered his expertise to SVSU's initiative. At the symposium, Rzeszutek and Behrend first discussed utilizing SVSU's theatre resources for a Road Less Traveled Productions play.