Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Theatre students finish year of strong performances, prepare for Avenue Q and other shows

From skill-building stage shows to a summer theatre camp for youth, Randolph’s theatre program is providing many opportunities for students.

This year has required acting and theatre design students at Randolph College to step up to demanding work on stage and behind the scenes. Next year’s shows—including Avenue Q and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf—will continue to offer new challenges.

“Everything we’re selecting presents real challenges to our actors and designers that are going to make them better,” said Mace Archer, a theatre professor. “There’s nothing easy next season.”

Want to get to know the Randolph College theatre program? Listen to Marian van Noppen '12, one of the stars from Randolph's productions of Spring Awakening, and A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Sonja Cirilo '15, a star from Reasons to be Pretty and Extremities, talk about how their experiences here have helped them develop talent for working on stage and behind the scenes in this video.
This season, students tackled two large shows—the rock-n-roll musical Spring Awakening and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream set during Brazilian carnival—and two plays with four-person casts—Extremities and Reasons to be Pretty. These plays gave opportunities to all theatre students, Archer said.

“The designers have learned the process of starting with nothing, going into design meetings with directors, evolving their ideas, and getting their work done,” Archer said. “Our actors have taken great strides in terms of the difficulty of the roles that they were tackling this year. The roles in these plays are really ambitious.”

Archer said the experiences students gain in these shows are already paying off. Two students graduating this year have secured summer jobs in well-known theatres. Emily Perry ’12 will work in Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Theatre and Rebekah Baumgartner will work in the Olney Theatre near Washington, D.C.

Next year’s theatre season kicks off with The Scene by Theresa Rebeck, followed by Anton Checkhov’s Uncle Vanya. In the spring, the College will present Avenue Q, a hit musical in which some characters are played by puppets. The season will wrap up with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

Several students will be on campus this summer working on a variety of theatre projects. During the Summer Research Program, Brooke McKelvey ’14 and Babatunde Ajao ’15 will work with Ken Parks, another theatre professor, to design a puppet control system for Avenue Q; Ashley Peisher ’15, Emily Sirney ’14, and Sonja Cirilo ’15 will help Archer produce the play Bug to experiment with environmental theatre, performing the play in the setting of a motel room.

Some students will help Archer and a group of professional actors conduct a two-week summer theatre camp for youth. Dubbed WildCat Theatre Conservatory, the camp will run from July 30–Aug. 11 with theatre instruction and activities for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. (Registration is now open!) Experience teaching theatre to children will give students more opportunities in the future, Archer said.