News and Events
Pepperdine Drama Wins Prestigous "Fringe First" Award at Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012
Pepperdine’s theatre department have won a "Fringe First" award at the 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe for their unique play Why Do You Stand There in the Rain? Awarded to the group for "sheer quality and intensity of their performance," the honor recognizes months of collaboration with Scottish playwright Peter Arnott on a production that combines real historical characters, folks songs of the 1930s, and a script made up of real quotes.
Rain was one of two new plays performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe by the Pepperdine Scotland program, with performances taking place at the Scottish theatre event from August 1 to 11. The two groups of students rehearsed for months to perform Rain and Anonymous by Naomi Iizuka.
Playwright Peter Arnott (top left) and Cathy Thomas
Grant (lower left) direct and collaborate with student
Why Do You Stand There in the Rain? was commissioned by Cathy Thomas Grant and the Pepperdine Scotland group for their turn at the festival. Written by Scottish playwright Peter Arnott and developed with Grant and the students themselves over the course of this year, the "documentary with songs" chronicles the 1932 occupation of Washington by 20,000 First World War veterans, known as the "Bonus Army." Using text from recovered documents and songs by artists from the era, such as Woody Guthrie, the play features music by Scottish composer John Kielty.
Premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on August 1, Why Do You Stand There in the Rain? immediately amassed rave reviews. Joyce McMillan at the Scotsman calls it "a vivid, beautiful show, packed with timely insights;" Broadway World praises it as "truly moving" as well as "a riveting tale of hidden history and human strength;" and the British Theatre Guide pronounces Pepperdine's performance as "a truly fine production and a fascinating piece of new theatre, well worth it's place in the best shows of this year's Fringe Festival."
Meanwhile, Pepperdine's performance of Anonymous, directed by alumnus Joe Obermueller, is actually the play's U.K. premiere. Written by Naomi Iizuka, Anonymous is a modern retelling of Homer's The Odyssey, reimagined through the eyes of Anon, a teenage refugee. The play highlights the struggle that thousands of fleeing immigrants confront when seeking asylum: abuse, neglect, and exploitation. With a goddess as Anon's guide, he travels from pristine sandy beaches to violent butcher shops and many dangerous places in between.
A Younger Theatre hails Pepperdine's performance of Anonymous as "unanimously superb: compelling, poignant, and very mature;" Three Weeks calls it "lively and imaginative;" and The New Current names it "remarkable to watch."
Pepperdine University has been performing at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 1985 and with C venues since 2002. Recent productions under the direction of Cathy Thomas Grant have included works by David Mamet; Frank Galati's adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath; and Eve Ensler's Necessary Targets, which won the Critics' Choice in the Metro.
For 2012, Pepperdine's presence in Scotland has been completely redesigned in a groundbreaking new cultural exchange with leading members of the Scottish theatre community, led by alumnus, actor, and expat Alex Fthenakis ('08).
To follow the group's progress in Edinburgh and read reviews in full, visit the Pepperdine Scotland website.
Listen to a conversation between Arnott, Kielty, and Grant in Episode 53 of the Pepperdine People Podcast series, recorded when the Scottish playwright and composer paid an extended visit to the Malibu campus earlier this year to collaborate with Grant and the student performers.