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Three's a crowd: CCRI alumni carrying the torch in Gamm Theatre's first show of 2021

October 8, 2021

The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre’s season-opening production of A Lie Agreed Upon will have a familiar Community College of Rhode Island feel to it.

CCRI alumni and former theater students Dan Garcia of Warwick; Jeff Ararat of Pawtucket; and Erin Archer of New Bedford, MA, all play a key role in the opening of The Gamm’s 37th season this month, which marks the Warwick-based theater company’s long-awaited return to live performances for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Lie Agreed Upon is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, rewritten by Gamm Artistic Director Tony Estrella, in which a medical examiner discovers the water in his hometown’s hot springs – a major tourist attraction and source of income for the town – are contaminated. A power struggle ensues as the town’s major players, including the medical examiner’s brother, who is also the town mayor, wrestle between the decision to keep the public informed and preserve the town’s economic interests, a timely production given the current state of global affairs amidst the pandemic.

The play runs from now through October 24. Showtimes and ticket information are available online.

Ararat, a former Rhode Island National Guard Infantryman who studied at CCRI from 2014–2016 until he was reassigned to Texas, plays the role of Billings, the associate editor of the town’s newspaper, The People’s Messenger, who first learns of the news that the town’s hot springs are contaminated.

“It is a very fitting piece of work that is relevant to what we are living through now,” Ararat said of A Lie Agreed Upon. “Tony Estrella did a fantastic job taking Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People and transforming it in a way that makes it hit home without overwhelming the audience with too much familiarity to the news today.”

Ararat performed in a number of plays at CCRI, including The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and The Language Archive, and earned the 2014 Motif Magazine Theater Award for Best Collegiate Male Performance.

“I cannot thank CCRI enough for how it's helped in my career,” Ararat said. “The Theatre Department at CCRI shows you multiple ways to approach acting and how to apply it to a specific production that you're currently working on. Students who take it seriously will get all the help they need to meet their goals. No matter who you are or your level of talent when you arrive at CCRI, you leave an artist.”

Archer, who graduated CCRI in 2018 with an Associate in Fine Arts with a concentration in Theater/Performance before transferring to the University of Rhode Island, is the Assistant Director of A Lie Agreed Upon. At CCRI, she appeared in a number of productions and worked as the director of the Theatre Program’s student-directed project.

“It’s nice to be involved with fellow CCRI alums on this production. There is an instant sense of camaraderie because we have all been through the same program,” Archer said. “CCRI gave me a sense of curiosity to explore different facets of theater outside of performance, which was my concentration. I wanted to learn how to tell stories from a different perspective other than as a performer.”

Garcia is currently in his first season as a member of the year-long Gamm Fellowship Program, which provides on-the-job training and educational opportunities for emerging artists of color. A seasoned performer at CCRI who graduated this past summer with an associate degree in Fine Arts, Garcia will contribute in all facets of the Gamm’s 2021-22 season, beginning with his role as a townsman in A Lie Agreed Upon.

“Seeing so many familiar faces makes The Gamm an even more welcoming environment,” Garcia said. “It reassures you that you are where you’re supposed to be. I’m going to use this time to learn as much as I can.”

CCRI’s Theatre Program offers students the opportunity to explore the theatrical arts academically, professionally, and in performance, offering an Associate in Fine Arts degree in Performance and Technical concentrations. The CCRI Players, the college’s student-run theater group, returns to live performances at the Bobby Hackett Theater this semester beginning October 14–17 with its season-opening performance of I and You, an adaption of the Lauren Gunderson play directed by Associate Professor Luke Sutherland.

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