Thursday, January 13, 2011

Renowned Circus Performer Rob Mermin kicks off national tour in Middletown

Oddfellows Playhouse and ARTFARM collaborate on event about the history of the circus

Middletown, Conn. – Oddfellows Playhouse and ARTFARM are pleased to announce Rob Mermin, founder of the international youth company Circus Smirkus, will kick off his national speaking tour with an evening of personal anecdotes and film clips on circus history at Oddfellows Playhouse located at 128 Washington St. in Middletown.

The lecture, filled with clips from Hollywood circus feature films and personal stories, will begin at 7 p.m. and is made possible by a grant from the Middletown Commission of the Arts.

"It is great that the Middletown Commission on the Arts is making it possible for Rob to come here,” said Jeffery Allen, Producing Artistic Director for Oddfellows Playouse. “The MCA is the sponsor of our Children's Circus of Middletown, in its 23rd year this summer, and ARTFARM's Circus for a Fragile Planet. Rob is kicking off his national tour to raise awareness for youth circus here in Middletown - which shows just how important these programs are. Rob is also leading a workshop with the students of the CT School of Circus Arts - a premiere youth circus program led by artists from ARTFARM and Matica Arts. There is an amazing amount of circus right here in Middletown."

Mermin is an award-winning performer with Copenhagen’s Gold Clown. He has also been awarded Russia’s Best Director Prize and the Governor’s Award of Excellence, Vermont’s highest honor in the arts.

Mermin trained with the renowned mimes Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux, and is also a former Dean of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College.

Mermin will delight the audience with stories of running off to join the circus as a teen in the late 60’s. During the next forty years his circus adventures took him clowning with tent shows in Wales, mule wrangling in Lapland with Sweden’s Circus Scott, riding with the Magyars in the Hungarian State Cirkusz, three years with the famous Benneweis Circus Building in Copenhagen, and entertaining royalty in the circus palaces of Europe and Russia.

In 1987, he founded Circus Smirkus, which The Boston Globe called “one of New England’s most treasured cultural and educational resources.”

Tickets are $5.00 and can be purchased by calling the box office at (860) 347-6143, by e-mail at or online at

The CT School of Circus Arts is a circus training program for students ages 12-18. Students meet on Monday evenings and build skills as jugglers, unicyclists, acrobats, clowns and stilters. The program is led by creative artists of ARTFARM and Matica Arts. This is the only year-round structured circus training program in Connecticut and is designed to serve both beginning and experienced performers. Interested students can visit for more information.

Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the CT Department of Education, the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, The Stare Fund, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Pratt & Whitney-Middletown, the Irving Kohn Foundation and the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teen Repertory Company Auditions

Oddfellows Playhouse, located at 128 Washington Street in Middletown announced its upcoming Teen Repertory Company’s selected shows and audition dates.

The first production is Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen and adapted by Arthur Miller. Renowned for its medicinal waters, a small Norwegian coastal town is enjoying the fruits of this economic boom. When Dr. Thomas Stockman discovers the waters are in fact poisoned by waste products from industry. His attempts to alert the unknowing public are met with tremendous force and resistance from those in power. Written in 1882, this titan of modern theater is as relevant today as it was when first performed to a shocked Victorian audience. Directed by Missy Burmeister, opening night is March 31.

The second mainstage performance of the Teen Rep Company is The Farnsworth Invention. Written by Aaron Sorkin, whose credits include The Social Network, The West Wing and A Few Good Men, The Farnsworth Invention continues Oddfellows dedication to bringing cutting edge and relevant works to our community. With a successful run on Broadway, The Farnsworth Invention is about two men and their race for the rights to one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century: the television.

As noteworthy as the selection is the director. Oddfellows is pleased to announce Marcy Arlin, Artistic Director of the OBIE award winning Immigrant’s Theatre Project in New York City, will direct. Arlin is also a Fulbright Senior Specialist and member of the Lincoln Center Theater. Opening night is set for Apr. 28.

Pre-audition workshops are set for January 11, 12, 13 from 7–9pm. Pre-auditions workshops are a chance for students to check out Oddfellows, meet the directors and learn about the plays to prepare for auditions. We recommend students attend at least one pre-audition workshop. Auditions will be held at Oddfellows Playhouse at 128 Washington Street, Middletown, on January 18, 19, 20 from 7–9:30pm. Appointments are not necessary - but they are helpful!

More information is available by calling Oddfellows Playhouse at (860) 347-6143 or at

Oddfellows programming is made possible through the generous support of the CT Department of Education, the CT Commission on Culture & Tourism, The Stare Fund, the Middletown Commission on the Arts, Pratt & Whitney-Middletown, the Irving Kohn Foundation and the Daphne Seybolt Culpeper Memorial Fund.

Roof Update #2

We are very excited to announce that after our last roof update, a very generous and very anonymous alum of Oddfellows Playhouse stepped forward and completed the funding of the roof replacement project!

Thank you again to everyone in the community and the Oddfellows family that stepped forward and helped keep Oddfellows a safe, warm and dry place for so many children to come to play, learn and make new friends.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2011!