Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical
opens on Chapman University’s Waltmar Theatre stage this week on Thursday, October 1. In honor of the show’s twenty-year anniversary, the Department of Theatre has planned two special, free symposia on October 8th and 9th for audiences interested in enhancing their experience and understanding of the production.

Two actors performing a scene from "Rent."

Chase Hauser (in drag) as Angel and Matt Eisenmann as Collins perform a scene from the upcoming production of “Rent.”

On Thursday, October 8, a pre-show presentation “Twenty Years of
” will take place in the theatre beginning at 6:00 p.m. Led by
Dr. Jocelyn L. Buckner
, assistant professor of theatre studies, and featuring presentations by director
Matthew McCray
, musicology professor and musical theatre expert
Dr. Jessica Sternfeld
, and student dramaturg Caroline Hale, the one-hour conversation will examine the show’s history, its inspiration from Puccini’s opera
La Bohème
, the impact Larson’s work had on mid-‘90s culture when the show opened on Broadway, and the legacy it has left for subsequent generations.

Then, on Friday, October 9, a post-show audience talkback will be held with the show’s cast, student dramaturg Caroline Hale, and director Matthew McCray. The audience will able to ask questions about the show and share how it resonates with their own lives.

“The goal is to create conversations,” says Buckner, who serves as advisor to all student dramaturgs in the Department’s main stage production season. She explains that the symposia are an expansion of the growing dramaturgy program in which students serve as the resident expert on every facet of a production to help the cast and crew achieve the deepest level of authenticity for the audience.

Tickets for
are available online at
or by calling the College of Performing Arts box office hotline at
(714) 997-6624