By Jane Suttmeier
Theatre majors performed to honor their greatest achievements as well as make new ones on Mar. 1-2 for Senior Projects in the studio theatre in Chappelear Drama Center.
Seniors Sam Irvine, Joe Lugosch, Madeline Shier, and Leah Reilly performed in one of their last shows here at OWU. Irvine and Lugosch acted in “Rough for Theatre 1” by Samuel Beckett, and Reilly and Shier performed in “Beings in the Love” by senior Andrew Rossi.
It wasn’t just a night of “lasts,” but also a night of firsts.
“Beings in the Love,” which was performed by Shier, Reilly, and freshman Christian Sanford; was written by Rossi, and premiered on Friday.
Rossi has been working on this project since May.
“I spent last summer working on several different ideas. I have been working on this particular play since coming back in the fall,” he said
Sanford, who played Caleb in “Beings in the Love,” liked the Icelandic influences Rossi meshed into the play after his trip to Iceland for a Travel Learning Course.
“It really gave (Reilly) and (Shier) a lot to play with, and I thought that the Icelandic myths were a great place to pull a story from,” he said.
The myths Rossi incorporated were the famous, or rather infamous, “Icelandic trolls,” which around 80% of Icelanders believe in.
“I took a picture of trolls in a town called Akureyri in Northern Iceland,” Rossi said. After I posted the picture on Facebook, (Andrea Kraus) saw it and commented, saying “Write about these!” I was initially reluctant because I tend to write about non – human characters, but an idea popped into my head one day, and the rest is history.”
Senior Andrea Kraus directed “Beings in the Love” as one of her last theatre projects at OWU.
Sanford and the other actors started preparing at the beginning of the spring semester.
“Actors on the whole put in a-lot of work into their shows. They have hours of rehearsal and the hours they put in on their own, memorizing lines, studying the script, and creating a truthful and honest character,” he said.
Rossi says this was a part of his creative mentality as a newfound writer/producer.
“As an actor and a writer, I see two sides of the process. One of the joys of being a writer is seeing what good actors and directors can do with a good script,” he said.
Irvine, who, unlike Rossi, acted in a one-act skit for his senior project “Rough for Theatre 1” with fellow classmate Lugosch, had a harder time choosing what he was going to do.
“I think for (Lugosch) and me it wasn’t a difficult choice. Going into it, we knew we wanted a challenge. It took us awhile to digest the material and really make sense of it but once we did we had so much fun,” Irvine said.
Rossi also said fun was a main component in his Senior Project, which was a love story involving complicated family values, magic and young romance.
“I am immensely happy!” Rossi said. “It is the kind of thrill that only comes from playwriting. I sat in the theater listening to the response of the audience, and every peel of laughter filled me with such joy.
“The best feedback I heard was from people who were both greatly amused by the story, but also moved by it.”
Emotion was present in the audience as well on the faces of the actors.
Irvine and Lugosch played tough roles; Irvine acted as a one-legged homeless man in a wheelchair and Lugosch portrayed a blind man with no one to lead him.
“There is something about Beckett’s work that is so intriguing and difficult to understand. In a world where there is little hope, the characters are constantly distracting themselves from leaving it,” said Irvine.
Sophomore Elaine Young went to both plays and said she enjoyed them both, but for different reasons.
“The performances were really believable and I think that it is cool to see performances that examine the less talked about aspects of society,” she said. “It was a nice balance of dark and uncomfortable without making me want to stop watching,” she said about “Rough for Theatre 1.”
Young, who also went on the trip with Rossi to Iceland, said she could relate more to “Beings in the Love.”
“I think a big part of why the piece was so fun to watch has to do with my knowing the background to the story.
“The costume for (Brynhildur) resembled one of the troll statues we saw while in Akureyri, which was also fun to see. I also thought that the bits of the dialogue that broke the fourth wall were tastefully done and very funny,” she said.
Rossi added many puns into the dialogue in “Beings in the Love,” such as replacing the word “wrong” with “thong” in a comedic scene with love interests “Kristin” (Shier), and “Caleb” (Sanford).
“(Rossi) was really involved in the creative process. He was present at rehearsal and had found everything we were doing to be to his liking,” said Sanford.
Irvine said he is happy with how the “Rough for Theatre 1” turned out, but there was always room for improvements.
“Nothing is ever perfect,” Irvine said. “I will say I am extremely proud of the work that we showed to the campus and I am even more proud to perform with a dear friend,” said Irvine.
Like Irvine, Rossi said he is thrilled with the work of the actors he chose and how “Beings in the Love” premiered.
“I learned a lot about these characters by watching and listening to the actors throughout the process, and it helped develop the characters more than I ever could,” Rossi said.
Although Rossi said he does not plan on pursuing play writing as a full-time career, he will keep it as a past time in his years to come after OWU.
“I will keep writing plays my whole life, and may try to do it professionally in the future. But for right now, I have my whole life ahead of me and I want to get the most out of the great opportunities I have,” he said.