New York. Chicago. Los Angeles. The casting directors, agents, producers, managers, directors and other theatre artists from all three cities came out to see the graduates of this seminal school of dramatic arts.
Founded in 1925 as the Goodman School of Drama, The Theatre School hosts a series of showcases designed to introduce the graduating class to the profession. Graduating actors perform a program of monologues and scenes in the three big "opportunity" cities. We had the pleasure of attending the Chicago Showcase.
The lobby of Chicago Shakespeare Theater— probably the most beautiful lobby in the world—was filled with selected displays of the artistic creations of the graduates in MFA Directing, MFA Arts Leadership, Costume Design, Costume Technology, Dramaturgy/Criticism, Lighting Design, Playwriting, Scene Design, Stage Management, Theatre Arts, Theatre Management and Theatre Technology.
For example. before the showcase, we had a chance to view the stunning creations of Yas Maple, Costume Technology, who initially caught our eye with her gorgeous hats.
Then she showed us more of her creations including facial prosthetics (see the three faces by blue hat) and masks (notice the orange one directly behind Yas.
Costume Designer Emily Guthrie branched out with a very impressive gargoyle.
All the technical displays were professional quality, beautifully created and marvelously innovative. Theatergoers can look forward to some exciting stagecraft from these gifted grads.
Then we were treated to a fast-paced, high energy, quick-change production that included excellent songs and choreography as each graduate had his or her moment to shine. The user-friendly printed program was designed to promote discovery. The actors were listed in order of appearance with head shots, contact information and condensed résumés—instant access for the captivated talent scout. And what talent there was to scout! We saw, heard and felt every emotion from A to Z and back.
During the reception afterward, we had a chance to talk to three of the starry-eyed actors. Here’s what they had to say about their solid education and their bright future:
Meredith Frierson, BFA, has a heartfelt future planned. In addition to her theater degree, she has a minor in Sociology to further her goal to mentor children and build their self-esteem with acting and self-expression through art. She exudes the confidence of her self-discovery and is looking for the best way she can personally make a contribution. Currently, she is very active in the De Paul Gospel Choir and co-directs the Youth Drama Ministry at the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.
Clay Sanderson, MFA, feels that the program was very important in taking his career to the next level. He was very impressed with the diversity of ideas from Stanislavski, Spolin, Grotowski, Shurtleff, Lessac, Linklater, Yoga, Tai Chi, Feldenkrais® Method, and Laban--to name a few.
Clay has appeared in a wide range of productions including the most extreme, The Full Monty, where he had to “get naked in from of his parents,” to his favorite, The Giver, where he played an old man with all the memories of the world. Look for Clay this summer at the Oak Park Festival Theater in the classic Cyrano de Bergerac.
Annie Calhoun, MFA, also completed iO’s (improv Olympics) training program in Chicago and wants to do more comedy in general and subtle comedy specifically. Also a playwright, she has authored a one woman musical, Oregon Trail, the Musical which she has performed at iO. You can catch her act at Stage Left on June 22 when she will appear with her improv troupe in the late show. In addition to teaching and directing, she’s an avid sailor who instructs and races.
For more information about the program and the graduates, visit http://theatreschool.depaul.edu/special_programs_graduate_showcases_2009.php.