Arts & Culture

U. forms collaboration with local art community

The ‘I’m with the Band’ initiative gives students access to Providence’s performing arts scene

Contributing Writer
Friday, October 18, 2013

Trinity Rep will reserve two complimentary pairs of tickets for Brown students for each company performance until June 29, 2014.

Starting this month, a Brown student ID can swipe holders into much more than just Chicken Finger Friday — it can provide access to a myriad of arts events downtown.

Local performing arts venues, including Trinity Repertory Company and AS220’s 95 Empire have collaborated with the University to make their programming more affordable for students through the “I’m With the Band” initiative.

The initiative gives Brown students free admission to any of AS220’s 95 Empire performances. 95 Empire, located on Empire Street in downtown Providence, comprises a black box, dance studio and two multipurpose spaces. The venue showcases local and original performing arts events including film screenings, plays, dance performances, concerts, spoken word, literary events and improv comedy. Upcoming events include a literary festival, Improv Jones, Magic Lantern’s Experimental Gothic Screening and BB Roulette No. 2, a participatory performance where audience members read passages from a diary.

“Every week there is going to be something weird,” said Ric Royer, the 95 Empire program director. The venue  may host more experimental works, but there 95 Empire puts on a diverse set of  events that offer something for everyone, Royer said.

Student attendance has already increased since the initiative went into effect Oct. 1, Royer said. He said he sees no end in sight for the program — it will continue to grow and perhaps include access to dance studio classes, the print-making studio and other AS220 venues, Royer said.

“I hope Brown students will see it as an opportunity to not only see shows, but as a place for work,” Royer said. “They can test out skills they have been developing, put theories into practice.”

Brown students and faculty have taken advantage of 95 Empire as a community space in the past. Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies Kym Moore put on a play at 95 Empire with a cast of predominantly Brown students.

“It’s surprisingly simple,” Royer said. “You have a show you want to do, you get in touch with me and we set up a time.”

As part of the initiative and in celebration of its 50th season, Trinity Rep will reserve two complimentary pairs of tickets for Brown students for each company performance. Tickets must be claimed in person at the box office with a student ID between noon and 5 p.m. on show days. Students may try to claim any unsold Brown tickets until curtain, but ticket availability is not guaranteed after 5 p.m., when the tickets are released into the general pool.

The initiative kicked off with Trinity’s first show of the season, “Grapes of Wrath,” which was well-attended by Brown students as well as by other students from around the state, said Public Relations and Advertising Manager Myah Shein. The rest of the season will  include the world premiere of “Veronica Meadows,” “Oliver!” directed and choreographed by Richard and Sharon Jenkins, and an encore of the 2013 Tony Award-winning “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

“I’m With the Band” will strengthen the relationship between Trinity Rep and Brown established through existing Masters of Fine Arts programs, Shein said, adding that it will give students who do not regularly attend the theater the opportunity to do so. Trinity Rep will continue to reserve several tickets for Brown students until June 29, 2014.

The program affirms the University’s connection to the community, said Vice President of Public Affairs and University Relations Marisa Quinn. She added that she hopes it will encourage other arts organizations in the area to partner with the University and make their offerings available to students.

“This is only the beginning,” she said.

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