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The QuestFest 2010 visual theatre festival is coming to Gallaudet March 1 to 14, bringing an international roster of deaf and hearing artists performing an array of cutting-edge work. Now in its fourth year, QuestFest is produced by Quest: Arts for Everyone in partnership with Gallaudet and the Theatre Project and Creative Alliance in Baltimore, Md.

Artists from the United States and six other countries will converge at these three venues for performances, workshops, panels, and masterclasses. Some shows will feature post-show discussions with the performers.

In addition to hosting festival events, Gallaudet has provided some of the talent–several of the theatre pieces feature Gallaudet students and alumni. Also, aspiring performers on campus will have a chance to build on their skills through residencies held by renowned performers.

QuestFest is not only for deaf and hard of hearing audiences. “At QuestFest, people of many backgrounds enjoy the diversity and richness of visual theatre together,” said QuestFest producer Tim McCarty. “With QuestFest, cultural and language divides evaporate, and for that time we share in the theatre, we are all simply human.”

International flare, local talent

The festival will feature five world premieres, four American premieres, two Washington premieres, and one Maryland premiere.

In addition, Quest will inaugurate several of its own pieces, including “NANO.” This is a crowd-sourced piece that, according to its Ning social networking site, “takes on nanotechnology issues as they apply to deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing people.” Alumna Bellamie Bachleda and students Hector Reynoso and Brian Suchite have been part of the innovative production process.

Graduate student Joanne Benfield appears in the Quest production “E(motion)s,” while alumnus Luis Aguilar and student Ameena Patterson take the stage in “Love Currents.”

Brian Suchite and Hector Reynoso are playing multiple roles, serving as box office manager and coordinator of student community service to assist with productions. April Jackson will put to work both her business and administration major and performance and production minor as the festival’s production manager. Educational theatre arts major Mallory Malzkuhn will serve as house manager.

In addition, student Carrie Suggs is coordinating a Young Scholars Program reunion at the festival, bringing back participants from one of Gallaudet’s high school youth programs. Kristyne Reed, a business major, and Earl Terry, a communications major, are also serving as interns.
For further information about the performances, visit the QuestFest website.

A community event

“We are thrilled to host this vibrant mix of performance, creativity, and exploration that is QuestFest,” said Lisa Jacobs, manager of the Gallaudet University Mid-Atlantic Regional Center and Outreach Development in the College of Professional Studies and Outreach. “This event has brought out the talent and energy of the Gallaudet community, and we look forward to more of that at the performances, discussions, workshops, and receptions.”

David Reekers, coordinator of recruitment, believes QuestFest highlights a major draw for prospective students: Gallaudet’s theatre arts program. “Gallaudet has a very strong theatre department and QuestFest supports this by showing that students can pursue their dreams of acting and directing at Gallaudet and in the D.C.-Baltimore community,” said Reekers. “Gallaudet also stresses the importance of having a diverse community, and the open environment of QuestFest shows how we embrace people of all walks of life as well as educate the community at large. We are very excited to be a part of this event.”

The Training and Professional Development unit at the Clerc Center is helping to coordinate performances at MSSD’s Theatre Malz, as well as with a reception for performers, current MSSD students and alumni, and other audience members. Other entities involved include the College of Professional Studies and Outreach, the Office of Development, the Office of Public Relations, the Office of Alumni Relations, and Administration and Finance.

Tickets and information
Tickets for QuestFest 2010 performances are available at www.questfest.org and at show venues. The QuestFest website also includes a performance schedule (PDF). Theatre fans can also sign up to receive The Callboard, Quest’s online newsletter, which provides monthly updates on QuestFest 2010 and other Quest productions. To subscribe, visit www.quest4arts.org and click on “The Callboard.”

QuestFest 2010 is presented with the support of the Maryland State Arts Council, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, the U.S. Department of State, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities – Baltimore, National Endowment for the Arts, and the William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund.
-By Rhea Yablon Kennedy and Quest

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