Story by Katie Ericson
Photo Courtesy Drake Theatre Department
Each year, Drake University puts on a Student Theatre Showcase — smaller plays that are student directed. This year, the plays are even student written. Four students created three unique plays they wrote and directed.
Alexandra Reidy is a senior musical theatre major. She worked with Napoleon Douglas, another senior musical theatre major to create “SPEAK.” The show is about addiction in America and its affect on artists.
“As aspiring performers, we understand the pressure that the outside world can create on a famous performer, and those pressures have led people to do things that they never could see themselves doing,” Douglas said.
Reidy was inspired to write the show after taking a poetry class. She explained that the writing process was difficult due to her own critical impulses, but directing was more fun.
“I didn’t necessarily feel like a director while working with the cast,” Reidy said. “It was a complete collaboration. I truly credit my wonderful cast for evolving this piece into something I never could have dreamed it would be.”
Douglas wrote the music for the show. To make it even more interesting, they will be use sign language as well as music and written lines.
“All ideas were tried,” Douglas said. “We were successful and we failed, but in the end, all parties, cast and directors, were happy because we all have a part in it.”
Senior Molly Nelson also wrote and directed her own show — this time about an insomniac trying to find love.
Appropriately titled, “Adventures Insomniac,” the play follows an insomniac and his roommate as they try to win over a beloved baker girl.
Nelson said that her play is a little deeper than your typical romantic comedy, however.
“My play attempts to communicate a theme of identity,” Nelson said. “All of the characters in the show struggle with how they are perceived. They’re judged by their jobs, their problems and their behavior.”
For Nelson, the writing was enjoyable. She claimed that seeing her play acted out on stage allowed for her to make necessary changes and revisions that she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to predict.
“I thought of this production as a sort of test run, as I want to continue working on and expanding this play,” she said.
Nelson also had help on this play, working with sophomore acting major Eric Deutz as her assistant director.
“His fresh perspective was really helpful,” Nelson said.
Caitlin Teters, a senior musical theatre major, wrote and directed her show, “And the Sun Rises.”
The piece focuses on several Holocaust survivors and the trials they endured and survived. However, Teters said it is about more than the horrors that occurred during that time.
“It is also begs the question of how we can move on and forgive after an event as horrific as the Holocaust,” Teters said.
The piece started in another class, Voice II. Teters said that as she wrote the project, she became attached to the material and wanted to continue working on it even after the class was done.
“I needed to tell it on a larger scale,” Teters said.
When asked about the process of writing and directing, Teters said it was “terrifying,” but claimed that her cast made it worthwhile.
“I have enjoyed the process from day one, and I have learned so much about not only directing, but about myself as a person and what views I have about the world,” Teters said.
As seniors, they all had incredibly busy schedules, especially since all of the directors and many of their actors have parts in “Sweeney Todd,” which is also rehearsing from 6-10 p.m. during the week. Most directors admitted that they had to rehears from 10 p.m. to midnight to fit all of their classes and rehearsals in.
Reidy had to even quit her job so she could direct the play.
“We ended up rehearsing 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. every night, which is definitely not ideal, but we made it work,” Reidy said.
Teters had a similarly busy schedule, but claimed it was worth the time.
“I would go to them after taking class, working and being in rehearsal the entire day,” Teters said. “However, without a doubt, rehearsals for this show were the best part of my day.”
Nelson also had to have a late night schedule.
“Luckily, all of the students in the theatre department have grown accustomed to rehearsing until midnight,” Nelson said.
This week is the last before the performances and thus one of the most hectic.
Douglas said his strategy for preparing: “Practice, practice, drink water, sleep and practice. It’s show week, so we just have to bring it.”
Now the actors are simply ready to put on their show.
“By this point, we are itching to have an audience, and I anticipate a wonderful run,” Teters said.
“The actors and I have had a great time thus far in the rehearsal process, and I feel really lucky to have such passionate, hard-working actors to collaborate with on this show,” Nelson said.
The Showcase will be held in the Harmon Fine Arts Center from Oct. 25-27.
The show starts at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors and $1 for Drake students with an I.D.