After graduating from Columbia's School of the Arts, Diane Paulus (MFA in Directing 1997), Rachel Benbow Murdy (MFA in Acting, 1999), Jordin Ruderman (MFA in Acting, 1999) and Anna Wilson (MFA in Acting, 1997) collaborated outside the classroom to create a theater company, Project 400, best-known for the critically-acclaimed off-Broadway production "The Donkey Show." Paulus, the creator and director of "The Donkey Show," was featured recently in the cover story of American Theatre magazine.
"Her [Paulus'] approach generates work that lives in the actor's body and projects a high emotional energy; her musicals are often punctuated by frenetic dance-like scenes that grip an audience's attention and sweep them up in a whirlwind of energy," writes Leonra Inez Brown in the article.
Paulus and Project 400 are currently engaged in their new production, "Swimming with Watermelons," a drama with music, based on the true story of how three couples came together during the American occupation of Japan. The production uses 1940s music to enhance the story of three GIs as they wrestle with the language, family issues and culture shock.
"... 'Watermelons' is in fact an interesting examination of stereotypes, mistrust based on cultural ignorance and war's ability to force unusual friendships," according to Brown.
"Swimming with Watermelons" is currently playing at the Vineyard Theatre (108 E. 15th Street, New York) through April 21, 2002.