Pippin Parker and Rio Grande bring unique experience to students and community

By Brittany Ray

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Pippin Parker, playwright and Dean for the School of Drama at The New School, came to Jackson last week to offer a script-writing workshop to University of Rio Grande graduate students and area high school students. The event, made possible by Rio’s Imagine Arts Endowment, will conclude in an original performance at the Markay Theater on June 22, at 7 p.m.

The project, “Summer Shorts,” allowed workshop participants to explore short play formats, such as those developed by the 24 Hour Company, partner to the School of Drama at the New School. Students will write, rehearse, and star in their own Ten-Minute Musicals at the June performance. Minda Hager, M.Ed., will direct the performance, and Alyssa Russell, M.Ed., will accompany on piano. Greg Miller, director of cultural advancement at Rio, said it is important for Rio to bring opportunities in the arts such as this workshop to the community.

“Universities have a responsibility to make the arts and art education accessible to their communities,” Miller said. “Rio is dedicated to providing quality education not only to our students, but also to our community.”

Parker, who was born in Nelsonville, spent much of his childhood in Athens. His mother worked extensively with the Ohio Valley Summer Theater Organization, and his stepfather studied theater at Ohio University. He grew up going to rehearsals, and most of his seven siblings also work in show business as actors, technicians, camera operators, and props masters. Parker said he was excited to be back in the area for this workshop.

“I’m really impressed by these students,” Parker said, “particularly, by their ability to go out and work on their own without assignments. They’re engaged during the creative process, but they’re also engaged in the world around them.”

Parker also spoke to the group about what it means to have the arts in one’s life, whether entering an arts-related field of employment or not. He said more and more companies hire employees to come to work on specific projects in a “gig economy,” and expect employees to be able to collaborate with others.

“Experience informs work, but the creative process is the same whether you’re working with pre-school children or Master of Fine Arts students,” Parker said.

For more information about the “Summer Shorts” performance, or the Integrated Arts Graduate Program at the University of Rio Grande, contact Greg Miller by email at gmiller@rio.edu or by phone at 740-245-7030.