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NDNU's Theatre Arts Department Presents Annual "Fall Theatre Festival 2008"

Belmont, CA, August 12, 2008 — Dedicated to providing a theatrical venue for local talent and alumni, Notre Dame de Namur University’s Theatre Arts and Dance Department will present several provocative plays during the University’s “Fall Theatre Festival 2008,” August 21- September 6.

The twelfth annual festival kicks-off with a powerful musical “The Lower Gym,” which takes audiences back to the 60s when a group of high school girls on the brink of graduation from Star of the Sea Academy in San Francisco are conflicted about joining the turbulent and uncertain world of the 1960s. The festival continues with a collection of six short, five to eight minute plays ranging from a tale of three women on a camping trip who swap ghost stories only to discover that the real ghosts lurk in their own hearts in “Ghost Stories,” to a couple who wins a game show prize by the husband revealing a very private trust for which the wife responds with revenge in “The Golden Accord.”

“The NDNU Theatre Festival has evolved from a very eclectic fringe festival of the performing arts to a high powered showcase of NDNU theatre artists,” said Mike Elkins, Chair of NDNU’s Department of Theatre Arts. “The festival continues to include original plays, written by faculty and students, and the pieces are all directed by current faculty, students, and alums, allowing them to stage and perform original works.”

After reconnecting with one another at a 40th high school reunion, Star of the Sea alums Judy Albi Rechsteiner, Kay Alimisis, and Patty Colman Lawler decided to create a musical review highlighting their friendships and dreams. Their connection to NDNU is through Patty’s daughter, Ann Lawler, who graduated from NDNU with a Theatre Arts degree in 2006. Ann will direct the two-act play which begins on the last day of finals and the night of the prom, with graduation only a few days away. As the girls learn, nothing is concluded, their lives have just begun.

The group finds solace, freedom, music, and the power of voice by meeting together every morning, noon, and after school at “The Lower Gym.” History was being made while the girls danced, sang, dreamed, and rebelled. They were the girls of “The Lower Gym” whose friends, boyfriends and future husbands would live under the threat of marching off to Vietnam; the girls who learned at sixteen that their President could be murdered; the girls influenced by the Catholic Church of Vatican II and its sacred decree of primacy of conscience; and the girls who wanted to make a difference.

“This lower gym, provided us with a freedom in our young world of music and laughter,” said Rechsteiner. ”There was a jukebox with all the latest songs of the sixties, a coke machine with a bottle for a dime, and the freedom to dance and sing each day of our young lives. We dedicated the play to the Class of ’65 and to all those who came before and after. And to all girls everywhere who would be free.”

Other performances in the “Short Play Series” include “Ghost Stories,” “The Golden Accord,” “Executive Dance,” ”Vinny’s Vision,” “Pistachio Stories,” and “Infant Morality,” to name a few. Featured directors include Karen Byrnes, R. Dutch Fritz, Michael Elkins, Richard Newton, Ann Lawler, Judy Albi Rechsteiner, and Patty Colman Lawler.

The Lower Gym, a Musical Review” will be held August 21, 22, and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and August 24 at 2 p.m. NDNU’s “Short Play Series” will be held Sept. 3, 4, 5, and 6 at 7:30 p.m. The NDNU Theatre is located on the University campus at 1500 Ralston Avenue in Belmont. General admission tickets cost $10; a festival pass costs $20 for unlimited performances. For more information, call the NDNU Theatre Box Office at (650) 508-3456 or boxoffice@ndnu.edu.