posted August 5, 2012

End of Era for Leader of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre

This, the final week of the 2012 season of Hope Summer Repertory Theatre, will also mark the end of an era.

Producing Director Mary Schakel Van Heynigen is marking the conclusion of her 40th and final year with HSRT.

Friends of HSRT were joined by current and past members of the company in paying tribute to Schakel on Sunday at the Holland Council for the Arts.

"Under Mary's leadership, HSRT has done a wonderful job of enriching
the cultural life of Hope College, Holland, and the Lakeshore," said
Dr. William Reynolds, Dean for the Arts and Humanities.

"Mary's first goal has always been to make each season even better
than the one before—to perform a set of plays that represent a balance
between serious drama, comedy, and musicals and to insure that each
production meets the highest standards.  She's certainly met and
exceeded that goal.  Her second goal has been to insure that every
member of the company has the best possible experience, professionally
and personally.  She's as concerned with helping interns find ways to
mesh their talents and experience with new colleagues as she is with
providing veteran members to grow professionally – collaborating  with
new peers, producing new plays, and working with a talented group of
actors, stage managers, and technicians."

A double major in history and political science, Schakel was in her
final semester at Hope in 1969 when she signed up for a technical
theatre course, needing to fill an elective for graduation. She became
hooked on theatre. Three years later she was the HSRT costume designer
in its first season.  After a summer away she returned to Holland and
resumed as the HSRT costumer designer in 1974. She became managing
director in 1979 and since 1984 has been the producing director.

"The experience that Hope students have working for HSRT enriches the
remainder of their time at Hope and helps many of them get established
in professional careers after graduation.  And members of HSRT
companies have subsequently enriched the Hope College Theatre
Department's academic-year productions," Reynolds added.

Thanks to Mary and her colleagues, HSRT has gained a regional and
national reputation in the theatre world, particularly with a number
of colleges and universities that offer excellent BFA and MFA degrees
in theatre.  HSRT's productions are known to be high quality, and when
that's added to the spirit of community that develops each summer and
the chance to spend several months in a wonderful part of the country,
it's no wonder so many people want to be a part of it or that people
who first came as interns return later as professionals, while others
who come as professionals return year after year.

The current HSRT season opened in June with "Chaps" at the
Knickerbocker Theatre and concludes Saturday, Aug. 11, with "The 25th
Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee" in the DeWitt Center main theatre.