CalArts Welcomes Guest Artists from The Private Theatre

New York’s Private Theatre members visited CalArts in September.

Last month, New York director John Gould Rubin visited CalArts to embark on the first phase of a bilingual collaboration between the School of Theater and the New York-based The Private Theatre.

Joining Rubin at CalArts for the two-week workshop was renowned Mexican playwright Ximena Escalante and trilingual actress Salome M. Krell. The trio worked with CalArts students to explore the narrative integration of English and Spanish in Escalante’s new play Electra Despierta. The story examines the experience of two sisters and one brother: Electra, Iphigena and Orestes—each affected by terrible relationships with their parents—who try to achieve their objectives any way possible.

CalArts producer Nijeul Porter (Theater MFA 15) said that with its nonlinear structure, the play has succeeded primarily by engaging young audiences. It explores a narrative that may take actors and audiences out of their comfort zone, forcing them to reconsider their own relationships and social issues.

Rubin took a moment talk about his background in theater and his work on Electra Despierta. Listen to the podcast:


The development phase at CalArts saw the original text go through intensive group analysis and uninhibited exploration sessions. “I had a profound interest in this educational space where it’s all about freedom and creativity,” said Krell, who also serves as The Private Theatre’s Artistic Development Coordinator.

Founded in 1980 by John Gould Rubin and Travis Preston, dean of CalArts School of Theater, The Private Theatre received excellent notices for its intimate staging of Hedda Gabler in a New York condo’s living room in 2010. The production, designed by CalArts faculty member Chris Barrecca, allowed Rubin to convey a sense of naturalistic intimacy while maintaining his commitment to experimenting with form.

“I have acquired a reputation for altering the way people go to see a show,”said Rubin, who said Electra Despierta will be no exception. His vision for a wholly bilingual production aims to challenge audiences to expand their understanding of what art is, and challenge the CalArts actors involved in the production.

The Private Theatre plans to follow up this workshop with a full New York production in 2013.


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