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Trinity Repertory Company Entertains and Educates Providence's Theater Community

By Pamela Sosnowski

There's a misconception that in order to experience high quality theater, one must visit the Great White Way of Broadway or at least a major metropolitan city. Trinity Repertory Company of Providence, however, has been proving that theory wrong for over 50 years. The theater group entertains the Providence community with classics, musicals, and original plays, plus runs several actors' training programs that introduce budding thespians of all ages to the magic of live theater.

"Trinity has produced bold, intelligent, challenging theater since it was founded in 1964," Curt Columbus, the company's artistic director, said. "A typical show features great acting, the kind you would expect to see on any world-class stage."

Trinity Rep was the dream of a few Providence residents that wanted to form a professional theater company in the city. In 1964, the group staged its first play, The Hostage, at the Trinity Union Methodist Church. It was a smashing success and a decade later the company moved its operations into its current home, the Lederer Theater Center. The center was formerly the historic Emery Majestic Theatre, built in 1917, and renovated to include two performance spaces plus offices and rehearsal areas.

Curt Columbus

In the years that followed Trinity Rep toured India and Syria and won a 1981 Tony for Outstanding Regional Theater Company. Today the theater group employs a staff of over 100 including 16 resident artists and introduces over 15,000 children annually to the stage via its Project Discovery program. It also enjoys a partnership with nearby Brown University, providing MFA graduate training for aspiring actors and directors by supplementing their classroom work with hands-on theater training. Graduates from this program have gone on to perform in film, television, and on Broadway.

Trinity Rep's experienced professionals teach acting classes to children, teens, and adults. There's an emphasis on making theater accessible to Providence's youth community, so during the summer when the company is preparing to launch a new line-up of productions, the Young Actors Summer Institute is in full swing. This extensive workshop runs throughout July and allows students from ages 10 to 18 to learn several aspects of theater in-depth, whether it's playwriting, improvisation, mask-making, and more. Trinity Rep also introduces children on the autism spectrum to acting through its Active Imagination Network.

According to Columbus, successful acting requires more than just memorizing lines and conveying emotion; it also requires physical stamina and the acting classes emphasize this.

"To be a great actor you need rigorous and intensive training" he said. "In order to really fill a large theater, you need vocal and physical capacity and stamina that the average person simply does not have. Think of an elite athlete; you expect them to undertake superhuman training in order to become great. Training as an actor requires the same level of commitment and stamina."

The recently announced 2017-2018 will include such esteemed works as Death Of A Salesman, Othello, Ragtime, and more. No matter what an audience's tastes, Columbus guarantees they will leave the theater wanting to return for another performance.

"We have consistently done work over the years that is politically and socially charged," he said. "A real Trinity show is a wild ride, exquisitely done, that stays with you for weeks afterwards."

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