September 17, 2015
"Mad World," the winner of Ball State's first Discovery New Musical Theatre Festival, will take its audience to the moment when Lewis Carroll—along with the concept of Wonderland—was born.
Actresses Courtney Martin and Allie Richardson run lines during a Sept. 10 dress rehearsal for "Mad World," the winner of Ball State's first Discovery New Musical Theatre Festival. The play debuts Sept. 25 in University Theatre.
Debuting Sept. 25 in University Theatre, the original work of Los Angeles-based artists Christian Guerrero, Chandler Patton and Steven Schmidt centers on Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) meeting a young Alice Liddell and explores Carroll's poetry, imagination and pain creating one of the worlds' most beloved fantasy stories.
"Mad World" was selected over two other finalists—"The White City" and "The Toymaker"—to win the top prize in July 2014 at the inaugural Discovery New Musical Theatre Festival, a national competition originated by Ball State’s Department of Theatre and Dance as part of its focus on developing new works from emerging talents.
Guerrero and Schmidt wrote the first draft of "Mad World" as 17-year-old high school students. A few years later, after the pair began collaborating on the project with Patton, the artists submitted the musical to the festival on a whim.
See "Mad World"
To buy tickets, contact the University Theatre Box Office at 765-285-8749.
Sept. 25-26 – 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27 – 2:30 p.m.
Sept. 29-Oct. 3 – 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 4 –2:30 p.m.
General – $18
Faculty/Staff – $17
Senior citizens – $15
Students – $14
"When we heard about Discovery, we thought, 'What do we have to lose? We won't make it into the top three … Let's do it.' And then we did—and we won. We were not expecting that!
"We've been so impressed and grateful to the Ball State theater department and the wonderful creative team, cast and crew involved with 'Mad World.' To know everyone is working so hard to bring this production to life is very humbling."
Directing the musical will be Eva Patton, associate professor of theater. "I was overjoyed to accept the challenge, as I absolutely love this musical and think it's a unique and powerful piece of theater," Patton said.
Patton said she and other Discovery Festival judges—a panel of industry experts—felt "Mad World" was the musical at the best place in its development to receive a full production.
"We knew the department could serve this piece in a lasting way by giving it that, and that working on the piece would be a great growing experience for our students."
'Mad World' creators close in age to student actors
Actress Allie Richardson and actor John Banes discuss a "Mad World" scene with their director, Eva Patton, associate professor of theater.
For the students performing in "Mad World," engaging in the creation of a new work has been inspiring.
"It's been a blast to be a part of," said John Banes, a senior musical theater major who will play Dodgson.
Banes first inhabited the role during the musical’s reading at the Discovery Festival last year. "I've never spent so much time with a character. Now he just feels like a close friend I see every day. He both fascinates and frustrates me as I continue to discover new things about him with the help of the writers and the cast and the various drafts of the show."
Guerrero said Ball State students are amazing artists. "Steven, Chandler and I are fresh out of college ourselves, so in a lot of ways, they're our colleagues."
Entrepreneurial theater distinctive to Ball State
The Discovery New Musical Festival was founded on the success of Ball State's 2010 student-created musical "The Circus in Winter," produced last year by Goodspeed Musicals, which has launched "Annie" and other Broadway shows.
"The objective is to distinguish our department as a program that not only graduates accomplished artists and scholars, but encourages forward thinking entrepreneurs who can succeed in today’s competitive entertainment and theatrical industry."
— Bill Jenkins,
chair of Department of Theatre and Dance
The festival was organized by "Circus" originator Beth Turcotte, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Theatre. She and a student team narrowed more than 130 submissions to three finalists that received staged readings at Muncie Civic Theatre and Cornerstone Center for the Arts.
Bill Jenkins, department chair, said preparations for the premier of "Mad World" bolster the university's reputation as a school committed to developing new works.
The department received one of Ball State's first Academic Excellence Grants for its plans to implement an industry-centered program focused on training emerging playwrights, composers and artists through the development of new works, something few undergraduate programs in the United States do. A playwriting instructor will be hired to lead the program.
"The objective is to distinguish our department as a program that not only graduates accomplished artists and scholars, but encourages forward thinking entrepreneurs who can succeed in today’s competitive entertainment and theatrical industry," Jenkins said.
What’s next for 'Mad World'
Future plans for "Mad World" include advancing it to the Kennedy Center American Theater Festival in 2016, where "The Circus in Winter" took home a series of top prizes in 2012.
"After that, we'd love for it to be chosen to participate in the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival of New Musicals, which takes place in New York City every year," Patton said. "If selected, it would receive incredible exposure to producers and other industry professionals."
For Guerrero, it's been a dream come true to see his work make it this far. Developing a new musical "is a beautiful combination of instinct, trial and error, and collaborating between the writing team, cast and crew. I'm very excited to see what becomes of the production."
Explore Theatre and Dance
Does the concept of entrepreneurial theater intrigue you? Do you want to be part of an experience like "Mad World?"
If so, learn more about the Theatre and Dance program.