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The Mass Media

30 Years After Enrolling, Pete Riesenberg Celebrates Graduation

Pete Riesenberg (left) pictured here with Dr. Richard Lublin (right), took a break from his studies to work theaters in the New England area before returning to graduate in the theater arts program at UMass Boston. His plays have been performed in Los Angeles and UMass Bostons own McCormack Theater.

Pete Riesenberg (left) pictured here with Dr. Richard Lublin (right), took a break from his studies to work theaters in the New England area before returning to graduate in the theater arts program at UMass Boston. His plays have been performed in Los Angeles and UMass Boston’s own McCormack Theater.

 

 

I began studying theatre at UMass Boston in the early ’80s before leaving school to work as a carpenter, electrician, and technical director for theatres in New York and New England. I always wanted to be a playwright – that was my plan when I returned to school in 2010.

Prior to returning to school, I did have the opportunity to write one play and see it produced in a small theatre in Los Angeles. My play “Two Ships Passing” was about two sisters who are passing for white in 1962. It was staged under an Equity 99 Seat Plan, which allowed for equity and non equity actors to be cast in the play.

It was well reviewed by the likes of “The Los Angles Times,” which allowed the original run to be extended to a full six weeks. Later, while taking Professor Cliff Odle’s course at UMass Boston,  I gave him a copy of my script. Much to my surprise and great gratification, he expressed his desire to mount a fully staged reading of the play in the McCormack Theatre.

With the blessing of Department Chair Dr. Robert Lublin, I had the great fortune to see my play mounted in a well-attended reading on Dec. 8, 2011 to a receptive audience.

I took one of my final classes with Dr. Lublin in the spring of 2012, in which I first heard about a new summer program he was co-teaching with creative writing and Irish studies professor Thom O’Grady. “Irish Culture, Literature and Theatre” sounded like a fascinating course, which would include a 10 day trip to Ireland. I quickly submitted my application.

Our time in Ireland included trips to the renowned Abbey Theatre and to the Stork Theatre in Dublin, which inspired me to undertake my latest writing project, a re-imagination of John Millington Synge’s, “The Playboy of the Western World.” Titled, “The Last Playboy,” I imagined descendants of the play’s original characters, the father and son Mahon, in contemporary California.

Thanks to a casual conversation with UMass Theatre Player Treasurer Rick Chason, I was afforded the opportunity to submit the play to the club’s President and Vice President, Kendra White and Harrison Timmons. With their support and under Harry’s direction, I was thrilled to hear the play performed in a staged reading in the Black Box Theatre this past December.

I’m particularly looking forward to UMass’ inaugural Student Playwright’s Festival, to be held March 6-9. Though I did not have a work selected, I’m particularly gratified that this venue for new student work has been established.

Since graduating in June of 2012, I have been working steadily on two new projects while submitting my work to companies and programs throughout the U.S.