Don’t be surprised if you hear Greenfield 11 and 12-year-olds talking like Dracula in coming weeks or dressing up like Dracula for Halloween. Those Greenfield Middle School students will be imitating performers they saw at special preview performances of Dracula presented by GCC’s Theater students to the Middle School’s sixth and seventh graders on October 23 and 30. While the special short performances are only for the Middle School students, performances of the whole play are open to the public from Oct. 23 to 31. The full play, directed by GCC Professor of Theater Tom Geha with a cast and crew of GCC students in GCC’s Sloan Theater, is the 1927 version of the play adapted by Hamilton Deane and John L. Balderston from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula.
The special performances are the product of a collaboration between Geha and Greenfield Middle School Associate Principal Angela Ruggeri who reached out to Geha seeking cultural events for the Middle School students. Greenfield’s Middle School has an extended day program that includes state grant funding for the students to attend cultural events.
Ruggeri said, “We have two goals with this program: to provide cultural events for the Middle School students and to build a relationship with GCC. GCC is an amazing resource in our community and Middle School students have very impressionable minds. The more they’re told ‘you can do this,’ the better. Every day at the Middle School, we talk about ‘why we are studying this, what it leads to is….’ We want our students to know it is never too early to think about and plan for the future. With this event, we’re both taking them to see a theater performance and planting seeds of the possibility of college in their future.”
Back in school, the Middle School students will discuss the performances in Language Arts classes and in morning advisory periods. Greenfield Middle School has a theater teacher and every student in the Middle School takes classes in theater at some point. Attending the GCC performances will reinforce the reason for studying theater at the Middle School.
Geha and the GCC cast and crew are excited to have Middle School students attend the performances. Geha, who teaches and directs at both GCC and Holyoke Community College, has had many students in his theater classes who have never been to a live theater performance. He realizes for many of the Middle School students it will be their first time seeing live theater. Geha thinks a suspenseful play like Dracula will keep them on the edge of their seats and hopes it will encourage them to seek out more theatrical experiences.
Geha said, “What I love about GCC is how involved the community is with the College. When I was young, I had the experience of visiting a local college and I remember being very excited to be on campus, in that ‘big person’ place. I hope attending the Dracula performances at GCC will help them realize that GCC is here, that it is accessible to them in the near future. Years from now, whatever they do, they’ll remember ‘I saw Dracula at GCC.’”
Along with seeing Dracula, the Middle School students will see a diverse group of GCC students on stage.The actors in GCC’s performance of Dracula range in age from late teens to 40s. For some, it is their first time on stage in a theater performance while others have extensive theater experience.
For information about GCC’s Theater program, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/academics/programs/theater/ or contact Tom Geha at 413-775-1847 or email@example.com. For information about and online ticket sales for GCC’s public performances of Dracula, visit http://www.gcc.mass.edu/academics/2015/09/16/gcc-theater-presents-dracula-reserve-your-seats-online/#.Vh527iuxpME.
By Mary McClintock ’82