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Drew the Dramatic Fool takes to the Gallaudet stage

September 10, 2009
By Todd Byrd
Arrow Buff

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The Gallaudet community will have a perfect opportunity to see the University’s artist-in-residence, Drew Richardson, in action this Friday and Saturday in his one-man visual theatre piece, “Help! Help! I Know This Title is Long, But Somebody’s Trying to Kill Me!” The show and residency are presented by Quest: arts for everyone.

Richardson, better known in the theater world by his stage name, Drew the Dramatic Fool, will entertain audiences with this madcap visual comedy in which he discovers that all the performers in a vaudeville variety show have been murdered, and it’s up to him to perform all their parts-juggling 36 balls, sawing a woman in half, jumping rope while balanced on a large ball, and more–or else he’s the next one to die! The show will take place on Elstad’s Eastmqan Studio stage on September 11 at 8 p.m. and September 12 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are available before the show or at boxofficetickets.com at a cost of $15 for adults and $10 for students and senior citizens.

As a child, Richardson acquired juggling and circus skills, then refined his acting talent by taking theater classes at Ohio University and studied physical theatre at the Lecoq School in Paris, France. A devotee of silent film stars Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, he has helped revive the art of silent film making. The digital revolution has been a boon for creative individuals like Richardson with a yen to make movies with limited resources and budgets. Serving as writer, actor, director, and camera man, he started his career with several short films that he calls “The Guy” series, with titles such as “The Guy Who Lived on a Chair,” “The Guy Who Needed Exercise,” and “The Guy Who Hunted a Banana.” The series led to a contract, and his works have been screened in major movie theaters around the country. He is currently working on a “How to” series on etiquette for theatre patrons, such as “How Not to Turn Off a Cell Phone” and “How to Quiet a Screaming Child,” which can been seen on his website, www.DramaticFool.com. Like the silent movies of the past, there are no spoken words in Richardson’s films or stage work. “It’s all about the situation and action,” he explained. “And it’s all very clear to any audience.”

Richardson appeared at QuestFest in January 2008, where he performed and led  master classes. He also performed at area schools, including the Maryland School for the Deaf. Becoming an artist-in-residence at Gallaudet evolved from an idea by Quest performer Bellamie Bachleda for an interactive visual theater production that would allow people from around the world to contribute to the piece through online input. The concept has taken the title “NANO.” Quest founder and president Tim McCarty and Gallaudet Department of Theatre Arts professor Willy Conley were enthusiastic about Bachleda’s idea, and asked Richardson to come to Gallaudet as artist-in-residence to help develop the show and to lead workshops for theater enthusiasts from on and off campus.

To date, Richardson has led a three-day silent film project at MSSD and a four-day workshop at the University that was also open to the public. He will be on campus until October 17, work with Conley’s “Visual Gestural Communication” class, and devote the remainder of the semester to helping develop “NANO,” which will showcase on October 15 and 16, and be performed at QuestFest in March.

This project is partially supported by a grant from Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by The Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency; and The Pew Charitable Trusts; and administered by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

10 September 2009
By Todd Byrd

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Todd Byrd

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