PLYMOUTH — Alumnus, professional actor and creator Robin Marcotte remains loyal to Plymouth State University long after his 2000 graduation. This year, as the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance at PSU recognizes the 30th year of theatre as a major at the university, Marcotte will present a full-length solo piece, DOTTIE, he first created in 2005 while executive director and co-artistic director of Hotel Obligado in Philadelphia.
The 2015 production is a completely reworked and expanded re-envisioning of the original play that reveals Marcotte's grandmother Dottie (who would have been 90 this year), her best friend Dutchie, and a third entity, a boy as a metaphorical element, each portrayed by Marcotte. The script incorporates Marcotte's experiences of his grandmother's decline, and clips from 8 mm family films that become effectively documentary.
Performances of DOTTIE are February 12 and 13 at 8 p.m. and February 14 at 2 and 8 p.m. in the Studio Theatre at the Silver Center. Following the Friday performance, Dr. Robert Kelly will present a "talk back" discussion on the topic of dementia.
Though the play has some dark moments as it tells the story of the bright and vivacious woman's slow slide into dementia, Director Elizabeth Daily says DOTTIE is about love and hope as it explores how people suffering from dementia perceive the world. "Even if we don't always recognize our loved one (or vice versa), the person is still there—there is beauty and truth within," she says. "I think audiences will find an opportunity to experience a joyous and sweet life in this this hour-long production that reflects the journey of a remarkable woman and her memories."
DOTTIE is a work of physical theatre, a nontraditional art form not often seen in New Hampshire. Physical theatre is movement-based, not text-based, and includes many experiential elements. Marcotte uses mask performance, aerial work, shadow dancing and monologue to take the audience into the layered realities of the title character's mind...a mind overwhelmed by dementia. "There is a beauty to physical theatre," Marcotte says. "Physical theatre communicates with the heart before the mind—viewers may begin to cry before they process the information and not know why. Traditional theatre dependent on dialogue communicates the opposite way—from the brain to the heart. For audiences, this should be an experience, not a commentary, depicting the shared experiences of caregivers and of dementia."
Daily was one of Marcotte's teachers during his undergraduate years at PSU and they have co-directed two plays since Marcotte joined the department as a teaching lecturer in 2012. The two work exceptionally well together. Daily says, "Robin's openness of heart and mind will fill the performance. We are allowed to experience Dottie from her relationships, her mind and her heart. Since this work is very personal, it also becomes a gift to those of us sharing Dottie's story."
Marcotte studied at the Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre after graduating from PSU, and earned an MFA in interdisciplinary arts from Goddard College with a focus on theatre creation, theatrical social engagement and theatre pedagogy.
Tim Gray, resident composer and sound designer for the Dell'Arte Company, composed original music for DOTTIE.
Also joining the production staff are PSU alumnus and teaching lecturer Fran Page, PSU costume shop manager and teaching lecturer Danee Grillo, and alumna Heather Manfredi as set coordinator. Philadelphia artist Aaron Cromie designed and built the masks worn by Dottie and her friend, Dutchie.
Daily says, "Fran, with exceptional technical savvy, has given us exactly what we've outlined for video and voice over components. Danee has also completed some stunning costumes that complete the characterization."
Alumna Heather Manfredi is the set coordinator and PSU student Jaime Mancuso, a senior theatre arts major from South Windsor, Conn., serves as student lighting designer.
Tickets for DOTTIE are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and youth at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869. Tickets are also available online at silver.plymouth.edu.
DOTTIE is made possible in part by a grant from the Smart Family Foundation.
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