As a professional director and lifelong academic theatre artist, working on this production of Rumors for the JHU Barnstormers has been a wonderful learning experience as I launch the second act of my career. As a JHU CTY programs student and staffer between 1990-2000 in Carlisle, PA and Frederick, MD, actually setting foot on the Homewood campus here in Baltimore was a special first-time-ever homecoming. Directing in the Swirnow and working with these dedicated extracurricular, entrepreneurial, and smart-as-whips students on Neil Simon's hugely popular and challenging social farce has been pretty terrific. Except I'm never sure the stuff I say in rehearsal won't end up at the bottom of the rehearsal report! (I should be grateful people are listening.)
Speaking of that: as every day in our country brings new Wikileaks and accusations, rumors and questions, infidelities and tweets, grave offenses met with chuckles on both sides . . . my confidence grows in the Barnstormers for choosing the perfect comedy for our moment. The play debuted on Broadway with a starry cast in 1989. But like fine wine, great art gets better with age and when paired with the perfect occasion. With performances on offer over the final two weekends before an historic and divisive US election, Rumors is great art for us. Why? It's mix of hilarity and indictment becomes a mirror through which we see our silly mugs and our flailing limbs and our collective memory that human connection is our best redemption.
I love the work we've been up to and how everyone works together to make the art happen.
I am full of gratitude for the chance to do what I love to do with top students.
This is the play for today. Don't miss it. Please come share a laugh and think with us!
Jeffrey M. Cordell - Barnstormers guest director