In celebration of the renovation and reopening of Aalfs Auditorium in Slagle Hall, assistant professor of theater Rai Genna said President James Abbott asked the theater department to think of a production to hold in it.
“It was at the request of the president for the department to put something on,” he said. “Given our time, budget and scheduling issues, we decided that what we could offer was a showcase.”
The theater department’s End of Term Showcase will be held in Aalfs Auditorium on Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m. Directed by Genna, the showcase’s purpose is to exhibit work done in the classroom over the past semester and will feature acting, singing, dancing and design.
Genna said he’s excited for the showcase because it’s a first for the department.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Genna said. “We’ve never put on a piece in (Aalfs) to my knowledge. We’re really compressing our way of doing things to a very short period of time in a foreign space and I’m very interested to see how it all turns out.”
Genna said part of the importance of the showcase was to celebrate the reopening of Aalfs Auditorium, but he said the main reason was to show the work the theater department does.
“The public face of the department for the most part is the shows we put on that the audiences come to see, but we do so much more than that,” he said. “This is an opportunity for the public to see what we do, what we’re teaching in our classes.”
Assistant professor of theater Patricia Downey teaches the dance classes which will be featured in the showcase. She said she’s always done a similar showcase for her dance classes but this is the first year she’s collaborated with other parts of the department.
“It’s more complex and there are more elements to be balanced,” she said. “The classes have a lot of students in common and we have to be careful in the scheduling of the program that we don’t have one student who’s going from number to number to number.”
Downey said the dances being featured include a clogging number, a swing dance, a jazz number and a waltz which she created and which combines two separate classes. She said she hopes the showcase will generate interest in the dance program.
“We are currently exploring the possibility of reviving the dance minor, and there are still empty spaces
available in dance classes next semester.”
Fifth year senior Iah Kinley is currently in two classes participating in the showcase – musical theater styles and the New York showcase class.
“Most of us will be doing dancing, singing and acting,” he said.
Kinley said the New York showcase class hadn’t yet put together anything concrete for the showcase.
“That process will start more toward next week,” he said. “This is “Avenue Q’s” tech week. They’re struggling to get it done but we are keeping up on our repertoire of music.”
Assistant professor of theater Chaya Gordon-Bland teaches the acting classes that are being featured in the showcase and said she’s excited to present the ancient Greek-theater style.
“Greek theater is really different than what we typically do around here,” Gordon-Bland said. “It’s larger than life. I’m excited for the students to have the opportunity to share that work.”
Fifth-year senior Ben Kramer and grad student Gabriel Gomez are design students whose work will be part of the showcase.
“Whether it’s lighting design, set design or sound design, I feel all of it is there to create the environment of the show, whatever that may be,” Kramer said.
Kramer said his full color, quarter-inch scale set design for “Avenue Q” will be on display at the showcase.
“What I would like to get across to people is that “Avenue Q” is this location that is kind of run-down and decrepit,” Kramer said. “People are stuck there, but at certain moments that environment becomes beautiful and then the audience can see why the people stay there.”
Gomez said his work deals with projections and video editing with some of it on display while the rest will be incorporated into the performances.
Genna said he did not know if the End of Term Showcase would become an annual event.
“It’s at the end of the term and it’s hard to incorporate another show within the season because we’re coming out of one of our bigger shows at the time and (the students) would be going straight into this show as well as preparing for their finals,” he said.
Reach reporter Jordan Foye