A Southwestern University theatre professor and six students will travel to Bulgaria this summer to participate in a unique theater-training program called the Rhodopi International Theater Collective (R.I.T.C.).

The group will arrive in Sofia July 13, move to Plovdiv, and eventually settle in Smolyan – a town in the Rhodopi Mountains near Bulgaria’s border with Greece. The Rhodopi Mountains are considered to be the origin of Western theater, music and performance. They will return August 13.

The students participating in the program are all theatre majors at Southwestern. They include Edward Coles, Emily Everidge, Emily Galey, Kinsey Keck, Diana Leon and Cliff Miller ’07. Each is paying their own way for the trip. The group will be led by Sergio Costola, assistant professor of theatre.

The R.I.T.C. attracts theater practitioners, scholars and students from around the world. Each year, a different world myth is selected. This year the program will focus on the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh and its literary and historical counterparts. Visiting artists and lecturers from across Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East will provide the necessary historical background, and participants will be trained in various models of theatrical techniques during intensive workshops. Students also will develop their own independent projects to be shared at the end of the program.

“Our students, by assembling at an important geographical root of storytelling, will have the chance to internationalize their imaginations, broaden the scope of their vocabularies, and collectively discover how sets of diverse styles, conventions and philosophies may be merged into uniquely cohesive theatrical events,” Costola says.

Program participants also will tour Sofia and Plovidiv, both of which are archaeological and historical points of interest.

The R.I.T.C. program is now in its third year. Costola and Miller both participated in the 2006 session, where the collective used the myth of Dionysus as the primary source of material.

The Rhodopi International Theater Collective was created to advance theater technique through international collaboration. The program has partners from around the world, including The HyperMedia Studio at UCLA, The National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NAFTA) in Sofia, The Rhodopi Dramatichen Theater (RDT) in Smolyan, and The Academy of Dramatic Art at the University of Zagreb in Croatia. Recent partners include the Department of Theatre at Southwestern University’s Sarofim School of Fine Arts and the Theatre Studies Program at Acadia University in Nova Scotia.

For more information on the Rhodopi International Theater Collective, visit http://www.theatercollective.org.


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