The new Compass Rose Studio Theater in the Eastport Shopping Center brings professional theater to Eastport for the first time.
Located near the Sandy Spring Bank, the performing space, which held its open house in mid-June, offers dramatic presentations and educational programs.
The theater will present Lost in Yonkers by Neil Simon beginning Friday, Oct. 21. Two additional professional plays are scheduled this year, as are two student performances.
“We were brainstorming names for the theater” when an exploration metaphor popped up, said Director Lucinda Merry-Browne. “The theater is about journey and discovery. On a nautical chart, a compass rose helps a navigator find his way.”
The seafaring theme “seems appropriate for Annapolis,” she said. “Shakespeare’s original theater was The Rose, so there is a hint of that in the name as well.”
Merry-Browne formerly served as the artistic director of on West Street, and she founded the Compass Rose Studio Theater. The decision to open a theater in Eastport was simple.
“Eastport has its own character and flavor,” Merry-Browne observed, “and frankly the space was there. The Eastport community has been very welcoming to us.”
She said the theater will benefit not only those who love performing in or attending plays, but that other advantages will ripple through the community: “Theater always builds community. Eastport already has a warm, welcoming, thriving community. The Compass Rose will add to that by bringing people in from the surrounding area. It helps everybody. It’s an economic engine because people go to a play and have dinner after. So it works as an artistic model as well as a business one.”
She is proud of the accomplishments of the teachers at the Compass Rose, pointing out, “All of our faculty have not just degrees, but teaching and acting or directing experience, too. The professional production is comparable to anything you’d see in the area. We are thrilled to bring this artistic and professional theater here.”
Unlike organizations that focus only on results and evaluate the quality of performances, the Compass Rose Studio Theater fully focuses on the creativity involved in the craft.
“Our theater is a process-based school,” Merry-Browne explained. “We’re not about kids performing; it’s about learning. They don’t audition. All kids are welcome.” And the kids are not limited to one place to study drama. “Classes are available at Bates [Middle] School, Maryland Hall, Chesapeake Center for the Arts, Enrich Annapolis and The Key School.”
In addition to programs for children and adults, she indicates that theater education is offered to all ages: “We’ll hold classes for senior citizens as well, including one at Heritage Harbor this fall.”
In an era when the performing arts are being taught less and seeing a decline in audience numbers, Merry-Browne is optimistic.
“Currently our society is experiencing an explosion of growth in electronics, the Internet, video games and social media,” she observed.
“Though it links us in communication, it paradoxically isolates us. Physical person-to-person communication is lost. That’s why live theater is threatened. Children are now exposed to online classes versus a teacher-to-student situation that takes place on a very personal level. That’s being eroded.
"The Compass Rose is using education in theater to further the art form and as a tool to encourage a higher quality theater art. It’s the only art form that uses the human body as its instrument. It connects the actor to the audience. What live theater does is connect us, person to person.”
For fall, there will be plenty of after-school opportunities for kids to study and make the world their stage.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
See audition dates, browse the class and workshop schedule and learn more at www.compassrosetheater.org. For more information, send a message to the Compass Rose Theater office or call Lucinda Merry-Browne at (443) 534-9033. The Compass Rose Theater is located at 1011 Bay Ridge Ave, Annapolis, MD 21403.