GU Theater and Performance Studies Program Launches Partnership with Duke Ellington School of the Arts

New collaboration demonstrates power of community through Wilder’s beloved play “Our Town”

June 23, 2009 — Washington, D.C. — Continuing its deeply collaborative work in the community, Georgetown University’s Theater and Performance Studies Program launches an ongoing partnership with the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in a production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town,” running July 15-18 (showtimes below) in the Davis Performing Arts Center’s Gonda Theater. GU faculty member Sarah Marshall and Theater and Performance Studies Program Director Derek Goldman co-direct this fresh and innovative interpretation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, breathing new life into an American classic. The ensemble-driven production features a combined cast of Georgetown and Ellington students.

Both vital participants in Georgetown’s arts landscape, the Davis Center, home to GU’s Department of Performing Arts, is the only building in Georgetown history specifically designed for arts education and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts is the only D.C. public high school that provides professional arts training and college preparation to talented D.C. students. Wilder’s “Our Town,” which celebrates the value of community as it chronicles the daily activities of residents in the fictional small town of Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire, makes a perfect choice to serve as the first production in this community partnership.

Derek Goldman says, “We are thrilled to be launching this partnership with our neighbors at Duke Ellington and bringing students from the two institutions together through this remarkably enduring, deceptively tough and still radical play about community. Quite a few of our faculty, including Sarah Marshall, already have long-established relationships with Ellington and we look forward to a long and fruitful collaborative partnership, one that is already strengthening and bringing added diversity and expansiveness to both institutions.”

Beloved for generations since its premiere in 1938, “Our Town” takes place over the span of more than a decade at the turn of the 20th century, focusing on the love story of George Gibbs and Emily Webb. Performed with minimal set and props, the play’s simple action, poignant language and powerfully universal story continue to resonate with audiences today. In Marshall and Goldman’s unconventional ensemble approach, the characters of George and Emily are assumed over the course of the show by the entire cast. Goldman says, “While we are exploring the play in an unusual way with actors taking on multiple roles, we are not deconstructing it but working to honor what we see as the deepest meanings and resonances of the play today, how it connects to individuals across and beyond any particular time period, age, and culture.”

The design team includes scenery by Robbie Hayes, costumes by Deb Sivigny & Elise Lemle and lights by Justin Keenan-Miller. Showtimes include the following:


Wednesday, July 15 at 8 p.m. – free preview (no tickets required)
Thursday, July 16 at 8 p.m. – OPENING
Friday, July 17 at 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 18 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Tickets for the performances July 16-18 are $12 (General), $10 (Faculty/Staff/Senior, 65 or older), $5 (Student). For tickets or more information about the Davis Performing Arts Center, which is located on Georgetown University’s main campus at 37th and O Sts. NW in Washington, D.C., visit or call 202.687.ARTS.

About the co-directors

Sarah Marshall has been teaching acting at Georgetown University for 17 years. As a professional guest artist, she appeared in “Dream Boy” and “Right As Rain” at Georgetown. Sarah has performed in over 75 productions in area theaters including Arena Stage, Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theater, Round House, Studio, Signature, Folger, Stage Guild, and the Kennedy Center’s Program for Young Audiences. She has been nominated 14 times for the Helen Hayes Awards, winning in 1989 for her role in “Baby With the Bathwater” at Round House Theatre. She has also taught at Studio Theater, Woolly Mammoth Theater, Round House Theater, Source Theater, and Berkshire Theater Festival and is on the faculty at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She is a member of the Actors Equity Association, Screen Artists Guild, and Association For Television and Radio Artists.

Derek Goldman is the Director of the Georgetown University’s Theater and Performance Studies Program and Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center. He has directed Off-Broadway, internationally, and worked regularly as a director and adapter/playwright with leading regional theatres in Chicago such as Steppenwolf Theatre, and in the D.C. area including Round House Theatre (“Eurydice”), Theater J (“Sholom Aleichem: Laughter Through Tears”), Synetic Theatre (a co-production with Georgetown of his adaptation of “Lysistrata”), and the Folger Theater (“As You Like It”). He is the Founding Artistic Director of the StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, an award-winning socially-engaged professional theatre founded in Chicago and now based in Chapel, Hill, N.C. Having led the company for 15 years through more than 60 productions, credits include his adaptation of Studs Terkel’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which premiered in a concert reading at Steppenwolf and was remounted at Chicago’s Millennium Park for an audience of 10,000 with an all-star cast including Garrison Keillor and most recently as a memorial to Studs Terkel at Steppenwolf with David Schwimmer.

Goldman is developing the jazz musical “My Swan: The Passions of F. Scott Fitzgerald” in New York with acclaimed recording artist Nancy Harrow, which was workshopped at Lincoln Center. In addition to “Lysistrata,” GU’s directing credits include “The Winter’s Tale,” “The Skin of Our Teeth,” the workshop of his play “Right As Rain,” and the D.C. premieres of Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice” and David Hare’s “Stuff Happens.” For the first production in the Davis Performing Arts Center’s 2009-10 season, he will direct his adaptation of Luigi Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author.”

About the partners
The Georgetown University Theater and Performance Stud­ies Program integrates creative and critical in­quiry, emphasizing artistic excellence, interdisci­plinary learning, socially-engaged performance, and the spirit of collaboration. Now offering a dynamic major in Theater and Performance Stud­ies, the Program features a nationally-recognized faculty, including a number of the field’s leading scholars/artists, and many of the region’s leading professional theater practitioners. One of the country’s only undergraduate programs in The­ater and Performance Studies, the fast-growing program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, reflect­ing the political and international character of Georgetown, as well as for its commitment to social justice, and its high-quality, cutting-edge student production seasons. A partial and rapidly-growing list of theatri­cal luminaries who have had sustained contact with Georgetown students in the Davis Center includes Theodore Bikel, Irina Brown, Dan Con­way, Peter DiMuro, David Dower, Joe Dowling, Olympia Dukakis, Rick Foucheux, Marcus Gard­ley, Ed Gero, Danny Hoch, David Henry Hwang, Moises Kaufman, Liz Lerman, Heather Raffo, Clint Ramos, Stephen Richard, Ari Roth, Christopher Sivertsen, Molly Smith, Tony Taccone, Timber­lake Wertenbaker, Charles Randolph Wright, and Mary Zimmerman.

Located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts was founded in 1974 and is the only D.C. public high school that provides professional arts training and college preparation to talented D.C. students. Each student takes a full academic course load and, additionally, majors in one of eight arts disciplines (Dance, Literary Media, Museum Studies, Instrumental or Vocal Music, Theater, Technical Design and Production, and Visual Arts). Ellington currently serves almost 500 students in grades 9-12 from all over the city. For more information, visit

Contact: Laura Mertens
(202) 687-6933