Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

Lawrence Academy Visits MRT
Zainab Jah and Mark Zeisler in Tranced - Photo by Megan Moore
Zainab Jah and Mark Zeisler
Photo by Megan Moore

Over 300 students and faculty from Lawrence Academy in Groton visited Merrimack Repertory Theatre Tuesday morning for a student matinee performance of Tranced. The students, who were sophomores, juniors and seniors, packed Liberty Hall and were a great audience for our actors. Lawrence Academy will be joining us again on Thursday, February 19, when the freshman class will be in attendance.


After the performance, Company Manager Peter Crewe led the entire cast in a talkback with the students.  Students were interested in several difference topics from the show. First, they asked how long the actors had to rehearse the show. Mark Zeisler responded to that question, saying he confirmed he would be doing Tranced around Thanksgiving, and that the cast had about 3 weeks to rehearse. The students also asked about their accents. Zainab responded that she is very happy that she didn’t have to put on an accent for once, while Mark talked about how he has played an Arab character before, but he modified his accent this time. He said he listened to tapes of the Syrian Minister of Defense to help get the accent down.  


The students also asked the actors about their knowledge of Africa and big dam issues. Everyone in the cast felt it was great to be working on a play that actually had something to say on an important issue. Kimber Riddle responded that she has been to Africa several times on relief missions, which she talked about in an earlier interview on our blog. David Adkins said he has several relatives that have been to Africa and that after he read Tranced he became interested in researching the big dam controversies in India and China.


If you want to read about the trip from Lawrence Academy’s perspective, click here.


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Kimber Riddle Profile and Interview

Actress Kimber Riddle makes her MRT debut as Beth, a reporter in Bob Clyman’s new play Tranced. Kimber has many New England theatre

Kimber Riddle (Top Right) with Mark Zeisler (Left) and Zainab Jah (Center)

Kimber Riddle (Top Right) with Mark Zeisler (Left) and Zainab Jah (Center)

credits, including Piano at Harvard University and Common Infractions and Gross Injustices at American Repertory Theatre, and has directed several acting projects at St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire. She has also appeared in several films, including Guy, which starred Vincent D’Onofrio, and the ABC mini-series for Stephen King’s The Langoliers.

Like her character Beth, Kimber is also interested in helping the people of Africa. She has been to several different countries in Africa on relief missions. Kimber and I recently exchanges emails on Tranced and her travels to Africa.


What was your first impression after reading the script for Tranced?

My first impression of the play was a great and exciting one! As you know I’ve spent some time in Africa and also I have some friends that are Journalists, so I really felt I could relate to the world of the play. I was also struck at what a wonderful new piece it was. It’s rare that new material is this good.

What attracted you to the role of Beth?

My attraction to the role of Beth was immediate. Like I said I know some Journalists and thought it could be a wonderful tribute to them.

This map shows the countries Kimber visited in Africa.

This map shows the countries Kimber visited in Africa.

I heard that you have spent time in Africa working for relief organizations. Where did you travel to and what were your experiences like in Africa?

I traveled to northern and southern Uganda with the International Medical Corps. They are a wonderful organization with programs all over the world. The program I participated in was one with the focus of malnutrition in an IDP camp (internally displaced people) in the war torn north and gender related violence was the focus in a refugee camp in the south of Uganda. It was an incredible and difficult experience that I think about almost everyday. I also went on a research trip with Anna Deavere Smith to Rwanda, to look at the Genocide, Uganda, to look at Child Soldier’s and South Africa, for the Aids epidemic.

You have had the chance to perform at many theatres across the country, and had film and TV roles. Is there a character or experience that stands out as a favorite?

I don’t really have a favorite character, I love them all.