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On the Stage and In the Spotlight

KC Kenney | Thursday, September 11, 2003

Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s have a very diverse student body when it comes to activities they are involved in and whether someone prefers being on stage or off, theatre on both campuses always offers many opportunities to get involved.

The Department of Film, Television and Theatre

The Department of Film, Television and Theatre, or FTT, is celebrating their last season at Washington Hall this year by showcasing a run of the “best of Notre Dame theatre,” three shows specially selected by the FTT faculty to mark the long tradition of great theatre in Washington Hall. These productions will give students the opportunity to see the very talented undergraduates from Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross strut their stuff for the last time before they move to the new Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts.

Tartuffe is a brilliant comedy about a small family that is set upon by a devious scoundrel by the name of Tartuffe. Tartuffe uses false piety and excessive devotion to win over the hearts of the family and then take them for all they are worth, including the women of the family! This show was censored in the late 17th century by religious groups who felt it was a direct attack on the merit of religion. Notre Dame presents a very fitting location for Frederic Syburg to direct this classic. The show runs from Oct. 8 to 12 at Washington Hall.

The Glass Menagerie, an American classic by Tennessee Williams, is another FTT production that goes up this fall. Many of the performers are familiar theatrical gurus, including Katie Kertez, Bryce Cooper, Tom Connor and Molly Topper. The director is the ever-acclaimed FTT professor Siiri Scott who earns rave reviews from her students and performers. “I’m super excited because Siiri Scott is directing, and she’s an amazing acting coach,” said Molly Topper. “I mean, it’s Tennesse Williams. When you know the writing is good you know you can take it places.” The Glass Menagerie goes up on Nov. 19 and runs until the 23.

Finally, Ann Marie Stewart will direct Arms and the Man, an anti-love triangle based story by George Bernard Shaw. This show runs from April 21 until the 25 and has great Shaw characters, like an army officer that prefers “chocolate to bullets.” Though casting is closed on Tartuffe and The Glass Menagerie, casting for Arms and the Man will not be held until Jan. 19 and 20.

A fact that may not be commonly known to the local collegiate theatrical community is that Notre Dame’s FTT productions have auditions that are not only open to FTT undergraduates, but also to all students at Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s and Holy Cross. There are other opportunities to be involved in FTT productions besides the Mainstage. The FTT directing classes hold their Directing Finals in the fall and spring. Directing Finals are an opportunity for these aspiring directors to exercise their bossiness in a one-act plays by big name writers. Auditions are Sept. 22 from 5 – 7p.m. in Washington Hall. The Freshman Four is another opportunity to be thespians, but is limited to freshman. These one-act plays are exclusively directed, acted, stage managed and all else by freshman in the spring.

Not a real fan of the spotlight? FTT also offers many opportunities for students to be involved in other ways. Students are needed to work on sets, costumes, lighting, and publicity or work as stage managers.

The Communication, Dance and Theatre Department

CDT will be performing Arthur Miller’s famous political drama, The Crucible, directed by Mark Abram-Copenhaver, assistant professor of theater. Auditions will be held on Nov. 6 – Nov. 9. The department will present an independently written play in the second semester. Further information is available from the department at 284-4640.

The Pasquerilla East Musical Company

For more than ten years, Notre Dame had not had a musical on its campus. Then, in 1997, Kelly McGann, a resident of PE decided that this needed to change. From this, PEM Co. was born. Since 1997, PEM Co. has been the largest student-run musical theater company on campus and it has produced a high-quality show with capacity-brimming audiences every year. This year’s production is the well-known and loved Leonard Bernstein show, West Side Story, a musical take on Romeo and Juliet.

Senior Ray Areaux takes on the role of director/choreographer for West Side and said he is thrilled for the chance to bring such a great production to Notre Dame.

“Our team is psyched for a fabulous production,” said Areaux, who led the cast of Damn Yankees two years ago. “We are quite a fun group, and it’s going to be quite a fun ride.”

Auditions are on Sept. 15 and 16, but the show itself isn’t until February. Auditions consist of both singing and dancing. Materials are available now in the Library.

PEM Co. also sponsors a Musical Revue that is held in March at LaFortune Ballroom.

The Not-So-Royal Shakespeare Company

The NSRSC will be sharing their flair for the bard by presenting the Shakespearean comedy Much Ado About Nothing on Dec. 4 through 7. Auditions are Sept. 25 and 26 at 204 O’Shaughnessy Hall. Why should you try out for such a great show?

“Why wouldn’t you do Shakespeare?” asked Katy Kertez, who will be directing the spring NSRSC show King Lear. “I mean, who needs an excuse to perform shows by the greatest playwright ever? Like, y’know?”

Those who are auditioning are asked to prepare a short dramatic Shakespearian monologue, though cold readings from the play will be accepted.

The Saint Edward’s Hall Players

The SEHP started out as a Friday night production, put on by St. Ed’s, for the entertainment of its residents and the rest of the campus. As time went on, it grew and developed to be more of an independent theater group that presents great and compelling shows. This year they will be putting on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, directed by FTT major Adel Hanash. Auditions will be held in October, before fall break, so as to offer players an opportunity to be familiar with their roles. They encourage students of all grades and abilities to try out and look forward to an exciting show. They perform in Washington Hall the last weekend of January.

Farley Hall Players

Farley Hall Players began in 2001 with the student written production of Chance At Love, which was so successful it proceeded to tour the Midwest. Farley has a great reputation for putting out strong shows, both musicals and plays alike. This year, they will be doing Taxi Cabaret, directed by junior Devon Candura. Taxi Cabaret is a relatively undiscovered new musical about six friends living in New York after college.

Lena Caligiuri says that the group is “extremely excited to be returning to our ultimate goal of producing small, intimate musical theatre after having opted to do a straight show last year. Devon is an incredibly enthusiastic and dedicated director, with a very talented team working with her to make this show a success.”

Actors From the London Stage

Though the students put on fantastic shows each year, the Department of Film, Television and Theatre also sponsors shows of William Shakespeare performed by the Actors from the London Stage. Next week, the Actors grace the Washington Hall stage with Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, performed Sept. 17-19. AFTLS actors hail from such prestigious theatre companies as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, among others. Measure for Measure is a passionate tragicomedy that explores sexual morality and abuse of power.

Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the LaFortune Student Center Ticket Office – $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens and $12 students. For MasterCard, Visa and Discover Orders, call 631-8128.

The Actors will return in February with Romeo and Juliet, offering a great romantic date for Valentine’s Day. Their shows are always of exceptional professional quality and easily appreciated by first time viewers of the Bard, even though it may seem, at first, like a foreign language. The Actors make it accessible to all.

Whether a student has experience in shows in high school, local theater or perhaps the occasional touring company, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s have many venues for performers and techies from all stages of experience. It is a great way to get involved on campus and add a great compliment to a resume. One doesn’t need to be a drama major to be able to get involved in or be in the audience of a great show. All someone needs is a bit of time, a desire to learn and an interest in creating a little drama in the world.