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Director Blog

The Search for Jeremy Jacob

Monday, 15 July 2013 13:00 Janis Stone

The search for Jeremy Jacob
Justine Moreland

Wow! We had an amazing group of talented young performers come to the audition for Jeremy Jacob! They sang with gusto and lit up the Memorial Building stage. They have left JJ and his Crew with the difficult task of deciding who is perfect for the role of the boy who sets sail with pirates to help them bury their treasure! JJ and the Crew also had a bunch of swash buckling pirates to assign roles to and not forgetting Jeremy Jacob's parents too! With score sheets and cameras at the ready it was a wonderful night filled with laughter, excitement and pirate banter! Our ship is almost ready to set sail.


A Breath of New Life into an Old Barn

Friday, 05 April 2013 19:03

During the creation of the vision for "of Mice and Men" it was very evident that the set would play an important role in telling the story.  One reason for this was due to the size of The Memorial Theater in Mount Vernon but more importantly due to the fact that we are trying to immerse the audience in the lives of the 1930's migrant worker. 


On a farm, the barn is an opposing structure.  It is a symbol of hard work, tilled earth and callused hands.  It was quickly apparent to me and the designers that we would need that opposing structure to take up the stage, to always be there reminding the workers of what they are there to do and that dreams are just that . . .dreams.  I also wanted this structure to feel weathered and worn not unlike the characters of our play.  The answer was to find an old fallen barn that would have that natural aged look.  


After many weeks of driving around country roads and knocking on doors only to have no one be home or to be looked at like I was crazy, it was modern technology that helped us find what we were looking for . . .Facebook.  An old high school friend and MTVarts member (Dana Kemmer) heeded my Facebook call and rescued my poor car from having to drive down anymore dirt roads.  Dana's mother Linda was kind enough to donate a barn on her property for our production. 


photo 2



Over the last week we have been taking the barn down, stripping it to its beams, prying off siding and smiling all the time.  It is perfect!  I was lucky enough to speak with the woman whose father built this barn in the 1960's. What was most interesting to me was that he used wood from an old barn to build it.  So who knows, maybe the wood in this old barn is from the time period of our play!


photo 1


As we get this barn down to its foundation it strikes me that the history of this timber will be with us on stage.  This wood will be used not only for the imposing backdrop but also for the tables, the chairs, the crates, the bunks and the beds.  It will be adding its flavor to the story and bringing with it the sweat of the people who have worked this wood in the past, those who planed it, who nailed it, who painted it.  

All of them there to help us tell this story.   







Directing "of Mice and Men"

Sunday, 10 March 2013 15:22


Aaron Moreland here.  I was born and raised right outside Mount Vernon in luxurious Sparta, Ohio. :)  I first discovered my love for acting in the 7th grade in a local Mount Vernon Production of "Gypsy"  The love I developed years ago has taken me all over the country performing in Musicals, National Tours,  Outdoor Drama, Independent Film and so much more.  But . . .if there was one area of all of performance art that I could say I connected with the most it would be "The Classics”

What makes a classic?

To me, a classic is a piece that any audience can relate and emotionally attach to regardless of how long ago it was written, regardless of the subject matter, regardless of the class of the people or the language spoken.  It is the underlying truth of humanity that lies beneath the text, beneath the story and inside the characters that reverberate in one’s soul. It keeps you thinking and asking questions long after the curtain has fallen. 

I have been lucky enough in my life to experience acting in a few such classics. (Romeo & Juliet, The Crucible, The Miracle Worker, Everyman, etc.) I have also been fortunate enough to see some amazing productions of these life changing works.  (Hamlet, Oedipus Rex, The Glass Menagerie, Street Car Named Desire, etc.)

I am extremely happy to be back in the area that spawned my intense love for the performance arts as director of MTVarts' Classic Series "of Mice and Men".

Of Mice and Men is a classic in every sense of the word and especially relevant today.  Set in the middle of our country's Great Depression is shines a light on the everyman.  The men that traveled extensively looking for any work they could find.  These men accepted the loneliness of the road and the constant changing landscape.  They accepted the isolation of no family and no future but hard work.  It was a tough time.  Not unlike the time we are slowly crawling out of.  Where work has been uncertain and scores of people in this country would do anything for a job that can put food on the table.  It also deals with the bond that can form between unlikely friends and the compassion that strangers can feel for each other.  It especially deals with hope and the tragic events that can destroy it.

Please watch this space as we share with you the journey that we as artists are making to bring this play to you.  Our journey becomes your journey and we all arrive together.





Kicking off the 2013 season

Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:38

Our first show of the 2013 season will be Steinbeck's OF MICE AND MEN presented at the Memorial Theatre the first weekend in May.  Aaron Moreland, son of MTVarts President Susan, experienced actor, independent film maker, and perhaps most loved locally for his role as the Scarecrow in our 2009 THE WIZARD OF OZ, will direct the show.  Watch this space for Aaron's blog on his vision for the production.


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