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Esteemed playwright John Cariani works with HPU students on his play “cul-de-sac.”


Com ad es T wa o Ca y mpu s

HPU theater students know John Cariani.

They’ve watched him on Broadway in the smash hit “Something Rotten,” toured with him backstage and acted in his play, “Almost, Maine,” one of the world’s most popular plays.

At first, students were star-struck. Not anymore. Last spring, Cariani came to campus for two days to help students and faculty produce the world premiere of his play, “cul-de-sac.”

As chair of HPU’s Department of Theatre and Dance, Ed Simpson has seen his students win awards, produce stellar productions, and reach a lifelong dream after graduation: be a working artist.

Students discovered what the faculty already knew: Cariani is a gracious man. He laughed, listened and he asked students what words worked — and didn’t work.

Last year, Onstage magazine picked HPU No. 1 in “The Most Underrated Theater Colleges” in the Mid-Atlantic region. The magazine wrote: “If you’re looking for a fantastic B.A. program in theater, we highly recommend you start your search at High Point.”

A few weeks before opening night, as he sat at a table during his last rehearsal on campus, Cariani turned to HPU theater professor Jay Putnam, the play’s director. “This is what I imagined it to be,” Cariani told Putnam. 44

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In doing so, his department became an enclave of talent.

Cariani helped make that happen. He’s been an artistic associate at HPU since 2009. He starred in Simpson’s film, “Elephant Sighs,” and has helped students involved with two of his plays, “Almost, Maine” and “Love/Sick.”

High Point University Magazine | Fall 2016  
High Point University Magazine | Fall 2016