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Multi-talented director leads the way in The REP’s production of 'Rope'

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Point Park University welcomes award-winning artist Elmore James to direct the The REP’s second show of the season, Rope, by Patrick Hamilton.  James is a theater director, musical performer, opera singer and a musical theater and acting teacher. 

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He has worked in the United States and Europe on Broadway, in regional theater and opera, at the Metropolitan Opera House, and in the opera houses of Italy, Germany, France and Scandinavia.  He was trained at Juilliard under the mentorship of Broadway director and Actors Studio co-founder, Robert Lewis.

Rope tells the tale of two college students who murder a friend, hide the body in a chest and host a dinner party with the chest as the supper table.  The audience witnesses the evening unfold and the consequences of their actions slowly unravel around them.  James creates an edgy, Americanized version of the play.

The cast of eight includes five Conservatory students and alumni. Rebecca Knowles, a senior acting major, plays Leila Arden.  “I really enjoy exploring all different styles of theatre because I learn so much from each one; and each world has a new set of circumstances--a certain set of truths--to take into account,” said Knowles.

Jaron Frand, a 2012 Conservatory alumnus, plays Kenneth Reglan.  He describes the piece as part Hitchcock, part Clue.

One thing both actors appreciate is the opportunity to work with an artist as versatile as James.   “Elmore has some really interesting stories. Having worked in opera and theatre as both an actor and director, he has witnessed some very powerful art,” said Frand.

James helped each actor develop their characters individually. Frand compared it to being in a master class throughout rehearsal. Knowles explained how he would sit with each one of them to discuss the specifics about each character: their thoughts, actions and instincts.

“Working with Elmore has been wonderful; he's such a caring individual and so full of ideas. He encouraged us to challenge ourselves and to be as specific as possible which has been very beneficial,” said Knowles.

Rope runs through October 14 at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Visit www.pittsburghplayhouse.com for ticketing information.

Article by Kayleigh Smith, junior public relations major

Video: Interview with director Elmore James

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