Shoestring Players Hold Free Preview Performance Of “Almost Maine,” June 30

June 26, 2012 at 9:08 am

Excited to be heading off to the International Youth Arts Festival in Kingston, England, eight University of South Carolina Upstate theater students and two theatre technicians plan to give a free preview performance of Almost, Maine, the John Cariani production they will perform abroad. The public can attend the free preview on Saturday, June 30 at 3:00 p.m. in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center Theater.

The talented student cast of Almost, Maine includes Leah James, Ashley McFadden, Anna–Elyse Lewis, Joelle Gwinn, Chris Smith, Ryan Barry, Patric Phillips, Chandler Crawford. The two students in the production crew are Will Luther and Nick Whitworth. Lee Neibert, assistant professor of theatre at USC Upstate, will direct the production.

On a cold, clear, moonless night in the middle of winter, all is not quite what it seems in the remote, mythical town of Almost, Maine. As the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. But the bruises heal, and the hearts mend—almost—in this delightful midwinter night’s dream.

“I fell in love with The Rose and everything about London when I performed and studied abroad there this past summer. I’m honored and so unbelievably grateful for this opportunity. I can’t wait for this adventure and the journey I’ll experience with everyone. I feel like I’m floating! It’s amazing!” says theater student Joelle Gwinn, who will spend July 4-12 in London with the group at the Festival.

This is not the first summer that USC Upstate theatre students have participated in this international festival. According to Jimm Cox, chair of the Fine Arts and Communication Studies department, this year’s group will be the third group to attend in recent years. At last year’s festival, he says, “there were only three American schools represented and USC Upstate’s group was the only one out of the three to have a fully realized production whereas the other schools had staged readings instead of a complete play.”

Participation in this festival is an important part of the relationship that USC Upstate’s Theatre Department has enjoyed with England’s theatre elite. In 2010, a special agreement was signed allowing for students to intern at the Rose Theatre in Kingston Upon Thames, London during a five-week summer term. That theater is based on the Elizabethan-era Rose Theatre in London, where the plays of Christopher Marlowe and early plays by Shakespeare were staged.

In exchange, Stephen Unwin, renowned Rose Theatre director, thespian and author travels to USC Upstate each fall to lead acting workshops, master classes for upper level theater students, and discussions on a variety of theatre topics. He will be on campus in October and November 2012.

“No other college or university in the world has such an arrangement with the Rose Theatre,” says Cox. “It is a tremendous honor for the university and for our students. Exposing our theatre students to festival and study abroad opportunities will forever enrich their lives by expanding their horizons and giving them the chance to see the world from a completely different perspective,” says Cox.

If you miss the opportunity to see the free preview performance, the Shoestring Players will open its 2012-2013 season with an encore performance of Almost Maine on August 23-25 at 8:00 p.m. and August 26 at 3:00 p.m. in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center Theatre.  For details, contact Lee Neibert at (864) 503-5987 or Ticket prices are $4 for USC Upstate students and employees and $6 for general public.

For more information about the trip to London, contact Jimm Cox at (864) 503-5697 or

Pictured in photo:
Bottom row (left to right): Ashley McFadden, Anna Elyse Lewis, Joelle Gwinn, Leah James, Chris Smith
Top row (left to right): Jimm Cox, Ryan Barry, Chandler Crawford, Will Luther, Nick Whitworth, Lee Neibert