A generation ago, Broadway responded to rocketing ticket prices with a “rush line,” helping bring New York theatre back into the mainstream. This week, UMW Theatre joins the best in the business when it kicks off its 2018-19 season with a pay-what-you-can preview performance of The Amish Project by Jessica Dickey on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
Patrons can quite literally pay whatever they can afford for the special production, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Klein Theatre, located inside the University of Mary Washington’s duPont Hall. Regularly priced tickets are $20; students, senior citizens, alumni and the military usually pay $16.
“We want to be certain that our work is accessible to the widest audience possible and we hope this initiative removes any economic barrier to attending live theatre in Fredericksburg,” said Gregg Stull, professor and chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance and director of The Amish Project. “Professional theatres throughout the country have included pay-what-you-can performances in their seasons for more than 25 years. We want to share our work with as many people as we can and we hope this will open our doors to people who might not otherwise attend a performance in Klein Theatre.”
To that end, each of UMW Theatre’s 2018-19 productions will include an opening, pay-what-you-can performance.
The box office opens two hours in advance of the special preview Wednesday. Tickets are first come, first served.
“Tell us what you want to pay for your ticket. Any amount is perfectly fine,” Stull said, and you get to pick your seat.
Regular performances of The Amish Project will be held Sept. 20-22 and Sept. 26-29 at 7:30 p.m., and Sept. 23, 29 and 30 at 2 p.m. in Klein Theatre. AfterWords, a post-show talkback with the cast, will take place after the matinee performance on Sept. 23.
The Amish Project, which features a cast of UMW theatre students from around the country, is a fictional depiction of factual events: a tragic shooting that took place in a one-room schoolhouse in an Old Order Amish community. In October of 2006, a gunman entered the West Nickel Mines schoolhouse in a village in Bart Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania and opened fire before turning the gun on himself. Through the stories of these imagined characters, Jessica Dickey explores unconditional forgiveness and reconciliation within the Amish community in the wake of this tragedy.
From cast member and stage manager to costume construction and lighting design, UMW students have taken front seat roles in the theatre production, directed by Stull. Scenic design is by assistant professor Michael Benson, and costume design is by associate professor Kevin McCluskey. Lighting and sound design are by guest designers Catherine Girardi and Jon K. Reynolds, respectively.
The Amish Project was originally written and performed by Jessica Dickey as a one-woman, multiple character show, which premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2008. After being workshopped, the play opened Off-Broadway in 2009, and has since been adapted for an ensemble.
For more information, call the Klein Theatre Box Office at 540-654-1111 or visit www.FredTix.com.