Spring Fling: Theater students offer two comedies for weekend

Spring Play

If the fall drama production evoked heart-wrenching emotion, this spring’s comedies are sure to elicit many lighthearted laughs.

The three act play is called Boy Meets Girl and is a farce of life in Hollywood. Set in the early Hollywood movie system, it is the story of a group of writers who, in desperation to come up with the next new brilliant script, see a pregnant waitress and decide they’re going to use her new born baby as the star for their next string of films. From that point on, chaos ensues.

“I wanted to give something the complete opposite of the fall drama, and what’s more opposite than a ridiculous farce,” director Michelle Rathe said.

Senior Gage Stoneman described his thoughts on the farce. “(It’s basically) overdone, exaggerated comedy. The characters are so big and ridiculous, there’s no way they could exist in real life. It’s the polar opposite of the drama done the fall play.”

Going from emotionally taxing drama to comedic farce has been a hard transition for many of the cast members because it has required a complete switch of acting ideology.

“For drama, you can’t overdo it. You have to make it believable, but with farce, you’re not supposed to make your characters believable. You have to think of what someone ridiculous would do in that situation and times it by 10,” senior Bryan Anderson said. “I think it was hard for us in the beginning because at first we were trying to make the characters more real than they should have been.”

Also a challenge for the actors is the limited number of props in the play.

“Instead of using props, to be funny, we have to use our physicality — our movements and facial expressions — rather than objects to get laughs,” senior Greyson Henderson said.
And the audience should expect to laugh. The production is fast-paced and features a witty script that, even as a farce, incorporates many different layers of comedy.

“It’s more than slapstick because it’s not just physical comedy,” Rathe said. “(It has) multiple levels of comedy; it has the physical humor elements on top, but there’s also lots of line humor and development of the script itself.”

Or as Henderson put it, “It’s like the fart jokes without the fart.”

The play will also feature a number of multimedia components such as song numbers and a movie trailer that add to the performance.

All this will be preceded by the one act play which will feature some innovative and risky theatrical features of its own.

For the first time ever, CFHS students are writing their own play. This one act play, called The Niki Taylor Project, is a devised theater piece, meaning it’s a collaborative project in which the ensemble creates the piece from scratch.

The comedy is about a girl who wakes up in Facebook and encounters various people and applications while trying to get out.

“We basically started by posing the question, what if Facebook was real,” said Laura A. Neill, UNI theater major and the director of the play along with Danni Jo Stephenson. “We wanted something new and relatable to high schoolers.”

To get the students started, the directors began with lots of ensemble building and improv games to help the cast begin working together as a unit. The students were given “buzz words” that they then devised scenes around in small groups.

“I think we’re all so used to having a set format to follow, and it’s been a nice change to get out of main structure (by) improving every day for weeks and also trying to write a script for the randomness of our own heads,” said sophomore Dylan Martin, who plays the lead of Niki Taylor.

Stephenson, who is co-directing the play as her UNI senior project, shared her thoughts on the comedy.

“It’s a new type of theater. It’s has a new type of energy to it and a new type of format.”

However, the lack of the structure in a devised play that is usually presented by a script creates a challenge for the cast.

“We’ve focused a lot on learning more to bounce off of what other people do. If you don’t know what they’re going to say, you still have to be able to stay in your character and bounce back from that and give them something to work with,” Martin said.

Although a group of students have outlined a script, there are still no set lines, and parts were only decided on last week.

“As an actor, there’s nothing you have to work in (to create your character). We still don’t have set lines, and we won’t because the directors have enough faith in us and our improv skills they’ve taught us through the different games that we will be able to carry on a full show,” junior Tracy Lukasiewicz said.

The one act part of the show will span about 20 minutes before the three act play.

The whole performance will be on Friday and Saturday, March 5 and 6, at 7:30 in CFHS auditorium. Tickets will be $4 for students, $5 for adults and activity passes will be accepted.

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