Jamie Kuntz, Arts & Entertainment Editor
The senior studio productions are the capstone projects for University of Dallas drama majors. Everything the seniors have learned in their classes – acting, stage design, directing, etc. – is put to use when they are given the opportunity to cast and direct their own one-act plays. This semester, seniors Michael Jarvis, Madeleine Robb and Alex Trevino are putting their hard work on display in very different studios that encapsulate their unique personalities.
“The Conquest of the South Pole”
The Conquest of the South Pole, written by Manfred Karge and directed by Michael Jarvis, shows four unemployed men who decide to escape their depressing reality by entering into the fantasy of being the first men to travel to the South Pole.
“I am a lover of language, so I picked this particular show because I felt that the language in this show was unique, and something that a UD audience hadn’t seen, as well as something that presents its own unique challenges in directing,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis said that his show brings something unique to the table because it deviates from naturalism, which is what is usually seen in University of Dallas theatre. He said his show is very ‘Brechtian’: its characters are more charicatures than actual people, and it deals with ideas rather than emotions.
“I want people to come see my show because I want them to be put out of their comfort zones,” he said. “At UD we read a collection of classical works, all that are very similar, and this is a chance for the audience to escape that.”
The Romancers, written by Edmond Rostand and directed by Alex Trevino, differs from the other senior studio productions because of its unabashedly comic content and surprisingly familiar storyline.
“The play is about a boy and a girl who fall in forbidden love at a wall built by their families,” said Trevino, who also explained that the wall was the only set piece in the play. “Little do they know that their fathers are secretly best friends, trying all along to make their arranged marriage seem normal. With the help of the greatest showman in town, the two parents attempt to stage the greatest fake kidnapping ever.”
The show, which is a parody of the classic Romeo and Juliet, embraces all the clichés of a classic romance- the damsel in distress, overbearing fathers and even a violinist onstage providing background music for the entire show. However, don’t think that the play ends tragically because of its Shakespearean influence.
“It’s a parody in the sense that it ends happily,” said Trevino. “In the end, who doesn’t like a great love story? Who doesn’t like seeing a boy and a girl fall in love and everything being OK? That’s timeless.”
“The Way of All Fish”
Written by Elaine May and directed by Madeleine Robb, The Way of All Fish boasts a much smaller cast than those of the other two studios. Starring Skyler Patton as Ms. Asquith, a power-obsessed executive, and Katie McLain as Miss Riverton, her well-meaning secretary, the show is described by Robb as a very real, but very silly, contemporary comedy.
“It’s basically about an image-driven executive, Ms. Asquith, who finds her will to power challenged when she finds her life comically endangered through a series of comic events,” said Robb. “She’s given the decision to [acquire] true power through her will to live, so it’s not just the image of power anymore, but [actually living] as an empowered woman.”
Robb said that she’s excited for UD students to see the show.
“[Ms. Asquith] is clearly incredibly well educated, so I need a smart audience, and I know I’ll have a smart audience,” Robb said. “As sort-of relevant as it is, it’s more useful for a smart audience to engage in something that is intelligently silly.”
These senior-directed plays open Nov. 29 and run through Dec. 1. But don’t just pick and choose which studio you decide to go see – the shows are as different as the people who are directing them. They all perform on the same night, so there’s no excuse not to see them all – you won’t even need to leave your seat.