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RCC Instructor Angelo Parra to Co-Present Stage Production on 'Greed' January 17

RCC Instructor Angelo Parra to Co-Present Stage Production on 'Greed' January 17

RCC Instructor and Award-winning Playwright Angelo Parra

Award-winning playwright one of many talented professionals in RCC Performing Arts

DATE: January 15, 2019

RAMAPO, N.Y. – Rockland Community College's Performing Arts program has nurtured the artistic ambitions of countless students who aspire to a career in theater, music, dance or musical theater. Guiding those students are talented faculty members, many of whom are credentialed as performing arts professionals such as designers, composers, actors, directors and choreographers. One such professional, award-winning playwright Angelo Parra, typifies the high quality of Performing Arts' teaching staff. Parra's most recent offering is a short play on the subject of Greed, part of a trilogy of mini-stage productions set for January 17 at 6 pm at the Nyack Library.

Commissioned by the New York City-based Phoenix Theatre Ensemble (PTE), the three 15-minute-maximum plays focus on greed with the option of incorporating the work of Charles Dickens. Parra's play, “Elwes,” deals with a real-life figure, John Elwes, a notorious miser in 18th-century London. Infusing a bit of unpredictability into the evening, the plays will be read impromptu by Rockland County area actors whose roles will be assigned on the spot – regardless of age or gender – by drawing actors' names from a hat, and actors have only five minutes of prep time. Similar-themed productions by two other noted Rockland playwrights, Samuel Harps and Christopher Kyle, will precede Parra's work that evening.

“My piece combined the two criteria, greed and [the involvement of] Charles Dickens,” said Parra, who was approached by PTE producing artistic director Craig Smith, a recently relocated Rockland resident, with the play's concept. “The impromptu reading by the actors is part of what will make it fun. I'm doing it just for the fun of it, but also because it's local and a benefit for the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble,” which is expanding its programming into Rockland.

Parra is perhaps best known for his critically acclaimed musical, “The Devil's Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith,” about the iconic blues singer from the 1920s and '30s who brought African-American blues into the mainstream. The play was named among the “Top Ten Off-Broadway Experiences” in 2001 by the New York Daily News. Among Parra's other prize-winning plays is “Journey of the Heart,” a hospital drama, his screenplay version of which was a finalist at the Sundance Film Festival.

At RCC, where he has taught for the past 12 years, Parra is a key contributor to both the Performing Arts and English departments, teaching such courses as Intro to Performing Arts, Playwriting, Theater Appreciation, Literature and Film, Children's Literature, and Intro to Journalism. He cited the “personal attention” and nurturing support RCC Performing Arts students receive from faculty and staff, and the recurring theme of successful program graduates returning to participate in current RCC student productions. “It's a testimony to the family feeling in the Performing Arts department,” said Parra, who also taught for six years apiece at New York University and Ramapo College.

Parra is the longtime literary manager at Penguin Rep Theatre, the professional equity theater in Stony Point, N.Y., which recruits RCC students for internships in stage acting and technical stagecraft roles. “It's real-world, hands-on experience that they can put on their resume, complementing their academic efforts,” Parra said.

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CONTACT: Susan Lyddon, VP of Institutional Advancement
845-574-4595 or 347-840-1247