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It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for 11 University of South Carolina Upstate theater students, but only if they can find community support.

The students, along with two faculty members, have been invited to travel to London, England, where they will spend eight days participating with the International Youth Arts Festival and performing at the Rose Theatre in Kingston Upon Thames.

The group needs to raise about $35,000 to cover travel expenses. Upon arrival the group will participate in an internship program and help to run the International Youth Arts Festival, staff the Rose Theatre and also premiere the company’s original devised theatre piece – Memigery – The Memory of Images.

It’s an opportunity that extends beyond the walls of the traditional classroom, according to Jimm Cox, director of theater at USC Upstate.

“Students have the opportunity to attend performances by other companies and build friendships and bonds with people from cultures that they might otherwise never have encountered,” Cox said. “All of that experience finds its way back into the classrooms on the campus in Spartanburg and builds valuable resumes for student performers and technicians.”

This would be the fourth time that a group from USC Upstate will have the opportunity to perform at The Rose Theatre, a 900-seat venue located in the London Borough of Kingston Upon Thames modeled on the original Elizabethan Rose Theatre, situated on London’s Bankside. The Rose produces its own productions all year round with varied repertoire consisting of classical revivals, neglected modern masterpieces, new translations of foreign plays and occasional world premieres. A wide range of distinguished actors have appeared at the Rose including Jane Asher, Peter Bowles, Judi Dench and Timothy West.

This unique internship opportunity is the result of an exclusive agreement made between USC Upstate and The Rose Theatre in 2010.

“With over 300 performances from around the world, this puts USC Upstate on the world stage,” Cox said. “Every time a program travels back to a home country, a picture of our company and the name of the institution goes there as well.”

The students have been rehearsing since the first of February to perfect a devised theatre piece featuring original music by student, Eliot Ratgen of Greenville. Using movement, voicescape, monologue and dialogue, the piece, invented by the actors, traces the memories of images of their childhoods through maturity.

The company consists of eight actors cast through auditions, two student technicians who were chosen through interview and portfolio presentations, a student composer and two faculty members.

Students selected to participate in the Kingston University study program are: Chris Smith of Goose Creek, Seth Kemp of Landrum, Harley Bevill of Greer, Andrea Azmuendi of Mexico, Ryan Barry of Spartanburg, Alistair Mann of Spartanburg, Garrett Gibson of Spartanburg, Michael Quinn of Spartanburg, Eliot Ratgen of Greenville, Jake Salgado of Alabama and Bethany Lancaster of Spartanburg.

Interested in making a donation? Visit https://www.crowdrise.com/USCUpstateRoseTheatreTour.

For more information, contact Jimm Cox, director of theater, at (864) 503-5697 or jcox @uscupstate.edu.

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