By ASHLEY DELARM
Drake University students in the Theatre Department gainedvaluable experiences while holding key positions in rotating productions put on from Feb. 21 to Feb. 24. Students got the chance to be in front of the audience, in the director’s chair, designing and creating the sets, while also working with costume design, learning theatre technology and promoting their artistry.
This is Our Youth and Time Stands Still were student-directed productions that were the capstone projects of senior BFA Directing Majors Emily Brown and Kalle Sorbo, respectively.
Hannah Parker, the set designer for both shows, explained that the productions were small, consisting of only three or four actors each, and therefore required hard work and time commitment from everyone involved as they brought in their unique talents to the cast and crew.
“It was one of those things where it seems really slow for a long time and then it’s crazy fast right at the end,” Parker said. “It was my very first fully realized set design so I’ve done like class projects where you design a set and you build like a little tiny model of it, but this is the first one that I’ve handed off to somebody else and then had it appear in the studio theater two weeks later.”
Emily Brown, the director of This is Our Youth and a directing major, said that due to their capstone status, there was little staff intervention in the productions in order to prepare the seniors to go into the real world and to gain valuable experiences for their portfolios.
“We are still learning,” Brown said. “Even though we’re kind of on our way out, we are, you know, at that point where we’re still learning, we’re still students. Everyone involved is bringing all of this talent and creativity into this and I’m kind of just overseeing this and molding it into one cohesive product that we’re putting on stage.”
Not only was this a learning experience for the directors, but the actors and actresses were broadening their horizons as well by being challenged with new roles and techniques during an already short rehearsal time. Natalie Payne, a sophomore musical theatre major, was cast as Sarah in Time Stands Still.
“This production is a huge challenge for me,” Payne said. “I’ve never had a role this big, this meaty, and it’s a lot of really intense subject matter. But it was also like I love a challenge and it was so much fun and I love being able to really put myself out there and finally, I think, challenge my potential.”
The two shows had the same show weekend, meaning they shared a space and a set with alternating performance nights. Since both performances are set in a New York City studio apartment, they were able to have sets with similar anchor points with only minor changes from night to night.
The two performances were entirely directed, created and portrayed by Drake students, showcasing all of their talents and strengths in full for a performance-paced weekend.
Photo courtesy of Tina Intarapanont