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South Stage may swap productions

By Rebecca Penzias
Published: October 2007

A possible change in the South Stage production schedule has created alarm among theatre students.
Concerns within the South theatre department over an uneven distribution of talent between all plays sparked interest in a change of schedule.

Potential changes could involve swapping the fall drama and the spring Shakespeare production, denying seniors directing the spring One Act plays or full length the chance to act in the year’s drama.
Under the current theatre schedule, the modern drama of the year occurs in fall, while the Shakespeare production and student-directed plays take place in spring. Typically, experienced senior actors would participate in the dramatic fall play and then direct a show later in the year if selected.

As many seniors choose to direct the One Act plays, the other spring plays lose some of the most experienced actors.

“This creates problems for productions in the spring,” head of Newton South theatre production, Jeff Knoedler, said. “With so many parts available and a handful of senior actors directing their own shows, the casting pool gets shallow.”

Knoedler believes that if the Shakespeare production, one of the more challenging and less-accessible shows, took place in the fall, more experienced actors would audition for it, improving its quality.

Furthermore, if South Stage goes through with the change, the fall drama would require a much smaller cast, opening up a wider range of shows to choose from.

Despite some benefits, if the theatre department enacts the plan, director of the past fall dramas, Nancy Cromwillis, may not be able to direct under the new schedule.

There are a range of reactions to this proposal, but several theatre students are upset. Juniors would be the most affected by this change as many have been looking forward to directing as well as participating in the 2008-2009 drama.

“We have been looking forward to [it] for the past three years,” junior Alex Caron said.

Caron feels that the switch is “unjustified overall” and that it will start an “unnecessary conflict” between actors and administrators.

Junior Anya Whelan-Smith understands where administrators are coming from but is unhappy with the change as well.

She feels that the swap “strips us of our only big, non-classical drama” and forces very dedicated committed members of South Stage to make a difficult decision.

“I completely understand and appreciate Mr. Knoedler’s reasoning for switching around the order of the shows for next year,” junior David Broyles said. “But I am sure that he and the students can come across some sort of agreement that meets the needs of both parties.”

Junior Maddie Sharton, who plays Wendy in this fall’s Peter Pan, is also upset by some of the changes, but thinks she can handle them. “I completely understand why they’re doing this. It makes complete
sense,” she said. She had wanted to direct a show, but was also looking forward to her senior fall play. Given the choice, she would pick directing. Sharton remains optimistic and said she would audition for Shakespeare now that she has the chance.

Junior Sam Levenson, a cast member of Peter Pan, is supportive of theproposal, but he currently does not plan to direct during his senior
year.

“I can understand the frustration of people who want to be in the big fall play,” Levenson said, “but that’s what change is: it’s compromise.”

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