Category Archives: Theatre and Dance

Theatre and Dance professor receives international award

Professors Patricia “Patch” Clark, School of Theatre and Dance, and Eleanor Kane from the University of Shimane, Japan were presented with an award at the International Global Partners in Education 9th Conference held in Ekaterinburg, Russia for their collaborative work, “Global Storybook Theater,” May 11th, 2016. They also made a presentation at the conference, “Telecollaboration versus Face-to- Face Interaction – A CLIL 4Cs Perspective on Collaboration in Drama EFL.


Professor Patch Clark

ECU Students have been working with the University of Shimane, Japan for the past three years through video linking and eventually were able to travel for face-to-face performances. Both ECU students and USJ students were able to perform a joint-performance and reflect on which interaction they preferred. USJ also invited traditional performing artists to put on a grand show for the ECU students.

Starting in November 2012, ECU and USJ have been sharing various stories and performances across the world. By October 2015 both ECU and USJ put on a joint-performance in a 3-day face-to-face workshop in Japan.

ECU is overjoyed for our own Patch Clark for her award and recognition in the collaborative work, “Global Storybook Theater”. ECU Storybook Theatre combines talents of students from across all theatre art disciplines and teaches younger audience members the enjoyment of the performing arts along with the excitement of books and reading. Some productions include Charlotte’s Web, The Snow Queen, and Reaching for the Stars.

For more information about Storybook Theater or to say a warm Congratulations to Patch Clark, you can contact her at

–Michael Crane

ECU alumnus nominated for Tony Award

An East Carolina University alumnus will be honored at the 2016 Tony Awards this Sunday for his work on the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton.”

Hamilton Playbill

Howell Binkley is nominated for best lighting design for a musical. The show, which received a record-breaking 16 Tony nominations, has become one of Broadway’s biggest critical and commercial successes in its ten-month run.

“It’s an honor to be involved with such a hit show,” said Binkley, who has been a Broadway lighting designer since 1992. This is his seventh nomination; his last win was for “Jersey Boys” in 2006. “It’s still as exciting as the first one.”

Binkley has worked with “Hamilton” creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda and his team before, on a production called “In the Heights,” Miranda’s Broadway debut.

Howell Binkley (contributed photo)

Howell Binkley (contributed photo)

“We have a history of working together,” Binkley said. “It’s a very collaborative process.”

“Hamilton” uses rap and hip-hop music to tell the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers. This is just one of the many things that make the show unique, from the diversity of the cast to the non-stop pace. There are 50 songs that move immediately from one to the next, Binkley said, and his lighting helps keep the show moving. Instead of traditionally fading to black at the end of each scene, there’s only one blackout at the end of the first act for intermission.

“The show is continuous,” Binkley said. “We work to keep it seamless and keep it vibrant.”

Binkley has been with the show since its beginning, participating in weeks of technical rehearsals before the show premiered off-Broadway at The Public Theater in February 2015. Putting sets, costumes, music and lighting together is “a layered process” that takes about three weeks, Binkley said. “It’s like any other business or product; you have to perfect it before the audience sees it.”

Now, Binkley checks in on the show about once a month to make any needed adjustments, as the house staff at the Richard Rodgers Theater execute his lighting design in sold-out shows.

Howell Binkley

Lighting designer and ECU alumnus Howell Binkley joins the cast and crew on stage for curtain call after a production of “Hamilton.” (contributed photo)

Growing up in Winston-Salem, Binkley participated in both high school and community theater. He wanted to pursue a degree in architecture, for which ECU accepted him. But once he got involved in the theater program, he never looked back. He studied theater at ECU until 1977, but left before graduating to work in New York. He started out doing lighting for rock ‘n roll concerts, until he met renowned director Harold Prince of “Phantom of the Opera.” His first Broadway show was “Kiss of the Spider Woman” in 1992.

“ECU totally prepared me for my career,” Binkley said. “It gave me a great foundation that took me to where I am now. I’m very proud I went to ECU, and more proud every year as I watch the school grow.”

For the last three years, Binkley has brought a senior theater student from ECU for a summer internship with him in New York.

“I’m happy to open new doors for them and see where they all go,” he said. “School was a new community for me. I introduce them to a new community just like ECU did for me. ECU absolutely contributed to my success. I love giving back.”

Howell Binkley

Howell Binkley in stage lighting. (contributed photo)

–Jackie Drake

ECU/Loessin Playhouse to present ‘Dance 2015’


The ECU/Loessin Playhouse will present Dance 2015 Jan. 28 – Feb. 3 in McGinnis Auditorium. Performances will be held nightly at 8 p.m., except for Sunday. Sunday’s performance is at 2 p.m.

Dance 2015 incorporates a diverse range of movement, providing the audience freedom of interpretation for each piece. The concert features choreography from ECU faculty as well as guest artists.The ECU dancers will also showcase the respective dance styles of commercial hip-hop choreographer Joe-Joe “Grooves” Smith and artistic director of Koresh Dance Company, Roni Koresh. The concert will feature Joe-Joe’s upbeat hip-hop piece, “Meraki Funk!” and part 1 of Roni Koresh’s two-part residency, “Standing in Tears.”

Tickets are $15 for the general public and $12 for ECU students/youth, and are available at the McGinnis Theatre Box Office. For more information, call (252) 328-6829 or visit

ECU Theatre and Dance to present “The Great God Brown”

GGB newspaper ad

The East Carolina University School of Theatre and Dance will present Eugene O’Neill’s “The Great God Brown,” April 24 – 29 at McGinnis Theatre.

Considered a revealing play about O’Neill himself, the play examines the lives of Billy Brown, a successful but inferior architect; Brown’s friend Dion Anthony, a gifted but drunken womanizer; and the woman both men love, Margaret.

Margaret chooses Dion with his sensual, cynical mask. But when he reveals himself as deeply spiritual and sensitive, she is repulsed. Unable to realize his artistic potential, Dion sinks into self-destruction and dies. Billy, envious of Dion’s talent, steals his identity. Billy eventually is accused of his own murder and is killed by police, while Margaret continues to worship the image of Dion.

Performances are nightly at 8 p.m., except for Sunday. A 2 p.m. matinee is set for Sunday.

Tickets are $12.50 and $10 youth/student and are available online at and by calling (252) 328-6829.

For more information, visit

Three plays set for ECU summer theatre series

The ECU School of Theatre and Dance has a busy performance schedule planned for this summer. Students will perform three plays in four different locations beginning in late June as part of the ECU/Loessin Playhouse.

The series begins at ECU with performances at the Burnette Studio Theatre in the Messick Theatre Arts Center of “Collision Course: a 60s Retro,” “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder and “Seven in One Blow” by Randy Sharp and Axis Company.

After performing June 20-23 at ECU, the students will hit the road to take their productions to Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo, the Cullman Performance Center at Tryon Palace in New Bern and the Paramount Theatre in Goldsboro, according to Jeff Woodruff, managing director of the ECU/Loessin Playhouse.

Moving the productions to different theaters gives the students valuable experience, Woodruff said.

“Performing the same material in different venues is much like boating in different waters,” he said. “You know your own boat, what equipment is on board, and how she handles. You also know your own waters, where the hazards are, and how deep the water is.

“Boating in unfamiliar waters sharpens the senses, keeps one from becoming complacent, compels you to use familiar equipment in new ways, and makes for an all-around better boater/actor.”

“Collision Course” is described as a stunning collection of short plans written by several 1960s-era playwrights before they became major forces in American theater. Included in the production will be works by Lanford Wilson, Terrance McNally and Sam Shepard along with music from the era. The play will be performed at 8 p.m. June 20 and 22. The production includes a parental advisory.

The iconic play, “Our Town,” tells the story of young lovers whose life in a small New England town becomes a microcosm of everyday life. The wisdom of the play and the deceptively simple story makes this an enduring American treasure. It will be performed at 8 p.m. June 21 and 23.

“Seven in One Blow” is a children’s play based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. A child embarks on a journey where he learns you don’t always have to show how strong you are, that teasing hurts, and a parent’s love has no limits. It will be presented at 2 p.m. June 22 and 23.

Tickets are $15 for the public and $10 for youth. To purchase tickets, call 328-6829 or visit

Performance times and ticket information for the other productions are available on the Summer Theatre website:

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