Editorials and Opinions

Cut the scenery change

By Denebola
Published: November 2007

Theatre is the activity to which I devote most of my time. After being in about six shows, I’ve slowly accustomed myself to the schedule of a long play in the fall, and a Shakespeare production in the spring.

More importantly, I have been looking forward to possibly directing a One Act since freshman year. I’ve even started searching for one.

Acting in the fall play my senior year is also something I’ve always wanted to do. I have come to think of the Shakespeare production, having participated in it, as the “spring show.” Not only does it end my year in a serious and accomplished manner, but our English curriculums usually teach Shakespeare around that time. This way I learn about the language and history, which help me to further understand the script.

Spring cattle call is something I’ve always enjoyed because it gives more people a chance to be casted. No matter your grade, spring cattle call is the best chance of getting into a show. There are more shows, more spots, and more opportunities to show your improvement.

Currently, our system maintains variety throughout the year. Shakespeare, for example, provides a good contrast to the student directed full-length play that has always taken place in the spring the past couple of years.

The major issue I have with this switch, however, is not the disruption of the cycle of plays, but rather, the unfair reasoning behind it. South Stage proposed this change to hopefully improve the quality of the spring shows by creating more incentive to join them.

Two years ago, I was part of the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Many people consider it one of the best shows put on by South Stage in recent years. Last year, after anxiously awaiting spring for a year, I was cast in The Tempest. South hired the directors from a famous Shakespeare Company. Many thought that the performance was a giant let down. Although I certainly enjoyed performing in it, I’m inclined to agree. The fault, however, did not lie in the cast.

I have a firm belief that good directors are capable of making almost anyone on stage look good. The directors of The Tempest, while having experience and knowledge, did not share chemistry with the cast and weren’t able to be as successful with the show as we all hoped. Although much of the cast was comprised of inexperienced actors, the directors admitted to selecting less experienced actors in order to encourage new participation.

Even if this theory of a shallow casting pool is true, it is unfair to switch productions. It would put emphasis on Shakespeare and deemphasize the play, a decision that those who dislike the special acting required for Shakespeare would definitely be upset about.

The fact that the phenomenal director, Nancy Curran Willis, might not be able to return to direct the play due to this schedule change after numerous years of doing so is also disappointing but does not justify changing the order of the year. Ultimately, the bad quality of the spring show was a result of a poor choice by the directors rather than the fact that the Shakespeare play was in the same acting season as the One Acts and spring drama. Although South Stage is my home and I will honor any decision the theatre department makes, the possibility of this change upsets me as I try to make my senior year as perfect as possible.

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