by Alicia Nestle
When she was four years old, Katie Ganem ’13 was bitten by the acting bug. Inspired by watching Les Miserables on PBS and starring in her first play at age eight, Ganem is now a musical theatre major at Nazareth ... and still dreaming of Broadway.
Those dreams are closer to becoming reality. Last summer, with the support of friends and family, Ganem and six Nazareth students traveled to London, where her one-act play The Goodbye Song was performed three times at the International Youth Arts Festival (IYAF), a gathering of young people from ages five to 26 showcasing the very best in international youth arts. The play received positive reviews on the IYAF blog as a “must see” play that is “poignant yet witty.”
Written during Ganem’s freshman year at Nazareth, The Goodbye Song is about a family dealing with the father’s suicide a year after his death. While not autobiographical, Ganem says she has many friends who have been affected by suicide. “I wanted to take a chance and write something with high stakes,” she says of the somber subject matter.
Like Ganem, Gloria Gambino ’13 took a chance as well when she wrote and directed SMITH, a play celebrating the life of her childhood friend, Zach Smith—a Marine who was killed in Afghanistan in 2010. Last September, selections from SMITH were performed at the Rochester Fringe Festival, a weeklong celebration of the performing and visual arts featuring world-renowned performers as well as up-and-comers like Gambino.
“Gloria’s energy, passion, and warmth of spirit make her the ideal theatre artist to tell the story of young Zach Smith’s tragic death,” says Matthew Ames, assistant professor of theatre arts in the College of Arts and Sciences.
“I am confident that SMITH is only the first of many wonderful ideas for the stage that will come out of this talented young lady’s head in years to come.”
What’s next for Ganem and Gambino? When Ganem returned from London, she kept busy by directing the Summer Playwrights Festival in her hometown of Reisterstown, Md. She is also the artistic director of Open Space Arts, a community arts organization in Reisterstown. Back on campus last fall, she began working on a full-length play. Gambino hopes to finalize the script for SMITH and get it performed outside of the Hornell/Rochester area. “I hope to have built enough opportunities around SMITH to one day take it to New York City or LA. That’s the dream for it.”
Alicia Nestle is the assistant director for new media in Nazareth’s marketing department.
Budding playwrights and theatre arts students Gloria Gambino '13 (left) and Katie Ganem '13.
Read more about theatre arts at Nazareth.