Press Release: UML and MRT Deepen Partnership

DATE: November 28, 2016
MRT CONTACT: Michael Glicksman,
MRT CONTACT PHONE: 978-654-7595
UMass Lowell CONTACT: Christine Gillette,
UMass Lowell CONTACT PHONE: 978-934-2209


Workshops, internships added to longstanding relationship

Lowell, MA – Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell announce the details of a long-term partnership that will benefit both the MRT audience and UMass Lowell students. The partnership framework provides for greater sharing of resources between the organizations and increased access to theatre professionals for students.

Under the new partnership agreement, every year MRT will workshop with UMass Lowell students one of the plays under consideration or already slated for production. In the workshop, the play's writer, director, and designers will have the opportunity to work on the play with actors in order to refine the script and make new discoveries about the production. Students will participate in the process by observing and being mentored by professional artists and, in some cases, participating in the process. The culmination of the workshop will be a public reading of the revised script. UMass Lowell students will be encouraged to take advantage of production and administrative internships at the theatre and will also have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants during MRT's Young Company summer program.

This year, the two organizations partnered on a workshop of the play "Chill" by Brookline native Eleanor Burgess. A public reading on Saturday, November 19 at the university marked the end of the workshop.

The students' access to theatre professionals will also include MRT staff and artists providing master classes, guest lectures, and class visits, as well as appearing at UMass Lowell’s "Theatre Lives speaker series, which is open to the public. The cast of "Abigail/1702" spoke at the Theatre Lives event on November 1.

The two organizations will also work together to increase opportunities for students to attend MRT as audience members. Professors will organize student groups for at least two productions per season and the university will assist in promoting the $10 UMass Lowell ticket rate to its students.

The partnership is designed to grow over time and will eventually include more opportunities for both UMass Lowell students and MRT staff and artists, with the goal of more fully incorporating MRT's resources into the university’s theatre curriculum.

UMass Lowell will continue to be the Production Sponsor of one MRT show per season, which it has been doing for the past 14 years. In the 2016-17 Season, the university is sponsoring the world premiere production of "Chill," which is also the play that was the focus of a workshop on campus this month.

MRT artistic director Sean Daniels remarked, "As we continue to grow as a cultural and civic leader in Lowell, it was crucial for us to deepen our relationship with the largest institution in town, UMass Lowell - especially considering that 38 years ago, our theatre started there. We look forward to this partnership benefiting both our organizations, UMass Lowell’s students and our audience. Clearly collaboration and creative institutional problem solving are happening in Lowell."

UMass Lowell English Department  Chairman Tony Szczesiul adds, "We are excited to be expanding this important relationship with MRT.  Our students benefit enormously from direct exposure to theatre artists at work.  We consider our partnership with this acclaimed professional theatre to be a unique advantage of UMass Lowell’s Theatre Arts Program."

The connection between the theatre and the university dates back to MRT's earliest days. Merrimack Repertory Theatre performed on the campus of what was then the University of Lowell when it was first founded from 1979 until it moved to its current location in Liberty Hall in 1982. Two members of the theatre's Board of Trustees are university representatives: Vice Chancellor of University Relations Patricia McCafferty and Associate Professor of English Keith Mitchell. MRT honored then-Chancellor Marty Meehan, a UMass Lowell alumnus who now serves as president of the UMass system, with the presentation of its Tsongas Award in 2014.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region. MRT produces vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today. A seven-show season runs from September through May in the intimate 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theaters nationwide (one of three in Massachusetts) with membership in LORT (the League of Resident Theatres).