JACKSON, Tenn. – Nov. 21, 2005– The Union University Players’ first show of the 2005-2006 season, “Tartuffe,” didn’t stop with the cast’s last bow on the stage of W.D. Powell Theatre.
Instead, the cast and crew have taken the show on the road across Tennessee with shows continuing for two weeks following the last Union production.
“You have got to be really flexible because every stage is different,” said Darren Michael, assistant professor of theatre and director of “Tartuffe.”
Along with changes in the dimensions of the stage, the cast and crew have had to deal with varying levels of technology for lights and sound with each space as well.
“Touring is important because every theatre person will at some point tour,” Michael said. “Plus we’ve gotten to do three extra shows beyond the six we do in a Union University run.”
The Players first presented “Tartuffe” as one of three shows at the state level of the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival, which was held in conjunction with the Tennessee Theatre Association conference in Cookeville, Tenn., Oct. 27-30.
While the show itself was not recommended to move on to regional competition in Jacksonville, Fla., in February, Courtney Braswell, senior English major; Jared New, senior theater and English major; and Andy Morris, senior theater major were all nominated to audition for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship at the regional festival.
On the technical side, three students from the crew were nominated – Lucas Villalpando, sophomore theater major, for stage managing; Natalie Newberry, sophomore, for make-up and hair design; and Braswell for costuming. If chosen to move on from regionals, the students will have a chance to take part in the national festival in Washington, D.C. in May.
“It’s confirmed that I do want to study theater,” said Jonathan Lambach, freshman learning foundations major, who acted as assistant props master for “Tartuffe.” “It’s given me more appreciation for theater, especially on a professional level.”
While in Cookeville, students had a chance to participate in workshops and in screenings to be able to audition at the Southeastern Theatre Conference’s spring auditions in March. Of the three students participating in screenings both Jill Casey, sophomore theater major, and Braswell received high enough scores to advance.
“It’s a good example of how the professional world works,” Braswell said. “It’s a good experience and I’m glad I went on, but even if I hadn’t it would have been a good experience to grow from.”
Braswell and Michael also both accepted positions with the board of the Tennessee Theatre Association. Braswell will be student representative for the 2005-2006 board, while Michael will be acting as director for the state KACTF festival. Michael’s position is a three-year appointment.
One week after the production in Cookeville, the Players traveled to Decatur County to do a two-evening run, Nov. 3-4, by invitation of the Decatur County Arts Council. These shows acted as a fundraising dinner theater to help Decatur County Arts Council begin a community theater program.
“You have to put a lot of faith in your actors and they’ve done that so far,” Michael said. “They’ve done excellent.”
By Alaina Kraus ('05)