What is Fall Showcase?
Fall showcase is the time of year where students come together to make a show on their own. The shows are all written, direction, designed, and performed by students. We’re given roughly a month to prepare with rehearsal, set building, costume creation and then we run the show for five days.
Does the department decide what goes into the showcase?
Yes. You can submit a piece of work at any point in your college years, but you will have a higher chance of being chosen as an upperclassman after you’ve taken some foundation courses like Directing or Playwriting to gain experience. However, if an underclassmen came in with incredible writing skills and a solid play then I think the department would be open to running it.
How early in time do you start the process of creating an idea for a show?
It depends and can go both ways, sometimes it can be a month and other times up to a year. A lot of the writers will end up using pieces that have written for Playwriting 1 or 2 which are both classes you can take here at Suffolk. Other times, writers will have something come to mind end up submitting that piece they wrote in their free time outside of class.
In relation to that, how does the audition process work?
During the second week of school we have anyone who is interested in the theater department or not can come and audition. This year we chose to do a monologue format so actors and actresses would come in, perform a two minute monologue and then leave. We do two nights of this first round of auditions, and after that the directors come together and talk about who they’d like to callback for a second round of auditions. During callbacks each director gets an hour to have people read parts for specific characters and afterwards we meet to discuss any conflicts on people. In the case of a double casting, we give a person a major role in one show and a supporting one in another so that they are not overwhelmed.
And there are four plays this year, which are all very different.
Yes, there are two comedies and two dramas this year, and we all bring our own styles to these genres. I don’t want to give too much away, but mine is called Fire and Rain and is a story about an Italian family and how they deal with loss, living together, and simply being a family. Tom’s show, Almost Time, is about an AIDS patient living at the height of the epidemic in the 1980s and the show deals with the dynamics of siblings, boyfriends, and relationships. Alexa’s show, Boys, Beds, And Bad Decisions, is a story told through flashbacks about a girl who wakes up one day with three of her ex-boyfriends are in her bed and tries to figure out how they all got there. Bobby’s play, The Normal Election, is a farce comedy about a mayoral election where the democratic candidate has republican tendencies and vice versa. I won’t give away who, but there is a character who dresses in drag.
Where did the idea for your play come from?
It’s loosely based off of my Dad’s side of the family. My dad is one of four siblings, all boys, and he is the middle child. His older brother Donny passed away when I was 7 and although my dad doesn’t talk about it often, I understood that they had a close relationship and so I’ve always had an interest in exploring this weird connection I have to that side of my Dad. Everything in my show will be exaggerated and my family doesn’t actually act in the way I’ve directed it, but there is a clear root there. The ways that lines are said follow the accents my family has but the character’s actions aren’t necessarily literal.
Do you think that each of the directors has a personal tie to their play?
I think that everyone draws a piece of themselves into their play and it’s impossible to write and not put yourself in it. I can’t speak for others, but personally, the play that I did last year called Yesterday was not an actual experience but it showed my thoughts and dreams through it’s overall tone and message.
Let’s talk about your background. When did you start playwriting?
I started loosely doing things for fun in high school. Yesterday was the first full length play I ever wrote, which I picked up and put down over the course of a year and a half. Fire and Rain was kind of a surprise because originally I thought I was going to work with someone who wrote a play, but due to time crunches I ended up submitting Fire and Rain because I knew it really well and felt strongly about it.
When did you start directing?
Last year I wrote and directed my show Yesterday. Two years ago I was an assistant director when we had guest director, Judy Braha, come to do The Crucible on the main stage. I’ve directed a few things for my classes which count because that experience translates over to fall showcase.
How has your approach as a director changed over time?
I have grown so much. Last year I was scrambled and didn’t know how to divide up my time, so it got done and everything went fine but now I have a better idea of how to make the process of putting up a show run smoother. This year I have a totally different approach to it and I set goals for myself. We have rehearsals for two and a half weeks, then you’re in tech, and it doesn’t leave much time for fooling around. I had my auditions organized, I knew who was going to read what side and what time, I didn’t pick randomly like I’ve done in the past. Something I’ll always be working on as a director is finding my own voice and figuring out what story I’m trying to tell. I have a better sense of this as I gain more directorial experience. In terms of working with my actors a really big thing for me is teamwork and I give them a lot of freedom. I am not the director who wants to spoon feed actors their lines, I want it to be a collaborative experience. A lot of times my actors come up with ideas that work really well that I never would have thought of and I love that feeling.
When Fall Showcase ends, what will be your next project?
Alexa and I are working on our senior thesis which will be a play about the Boston Marathon. Once Fall Showcase is over, we will watch all the interviews we collected this past summer to try and put together a script. Then we’ll be holding auditions this winter to create some sort of company, rehearsals will happen sometime in February and March, then the show will go up in April.
Fall showcase is Thursday, October 9th thru Sunday October 14th. Tickets can be bought here: http://tinyurl.com/redirect.php?num=FallShowcase2014
Photos taken by Michael J. Clarke, designed by Matthew Eriksen.