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Published: Thursday, 5/17/2007

New company debuts with intense 'Virginia Woolf'

Downtown Toledo sees a beginning and an ending this week.

Glacity Theatre Collective, an Equity company, opened its doors Tuesday with Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? It stars Sue Ott Rowlands, former interim dean of the college of arts and sciences and chairman of the department of theater and film at the University of Toledo. After the show, which runs through Saturday, Ott Rowlands moves to her new post as dean of the college of liberal arts and human sciences at Virginia Tech.

Ott Rowlands said that she had been working with Kirby Wahl to open an Equity theater in Toledo, and when Wahl took a position as assistant professor of performing arts at Elon College in North Carolina, Dave DeChristopher stepped in.

With Ott Rowland's career change, Glacity will be run by DeChristopher as well as Cornel Gabara and Irene Alby, members of the UT theater faculty.

Actors Equity is a labor union representing more than 45,000 performers and stage managers in the United States. It fosters professionalism by setting minimum salaries, working conditions, and hours.

Under the Equity code, Ott Rowlands said, members can essentially self-produce a play, assuming multiple responsibilities for a play. "We want [Glacity] to be an opportunity for Equity actors to pull together work they wouldn't have an opportunity to do in Toledo," she said.

The theater is at 1811 Adams St. in a former frame shop. It doesn't have a stage, Ott Rowlands said, but it has a wonderful old staircase that becomes the centerpiece of the set. Chairs are set up around the performance area for the audience.

Directed by Gabara, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? stars DeChristopher as George, a college history professor, and Ott Rowlands as Martha, his wife and the daughter of the president of the college. They cruelly bicker their way through life, even when they invite Nick (Ben Pryor), the new biology professor, and Honey (Alby), his giggly wife, over for drinks.

The intense drama, which won five Tony Awards (and six Academy Awards when it was made into a movie starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor), was selected to win the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Drama by a Pulitzer awards jury, but the decision was overruled by the advisory board, because of the play's controversial use of profanity and sexual themes.

Glacity Theatre Collective makes its debut with "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" at 7:30 p.m. today through Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday at 1811 Adams St. Tickets are $10. Information: 419-530-2254.



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