From the first round of auditions to the final curtain call, students involved in a Theatre TCU production find they have time for very little else – but few seem to mind.”I’m basically studying as I’m walking to class, I’m studying as I’m eating and whenever I get the chance,” said Kal Anderson, who has worked as a stage manager on numerous Theatre TCU productions. “Working on a show takes up most of my time.”
But despite the time commitment theatre requires, most students involved don’t mind because, to them, theatre serves a higher purpose, said Anderson, a junior social work and theatre major.
Senior theatre major Cheryl Bellows agrees.
“Theatre is the chance to tell stories about humanity and society,” Bellows said.
Preston Swincher, publicity assistant for Theatre TCU, said it would be impossible for him to ever stop doing theater.
“It explores the depth and breadth of human emotion,” said Swincher, a sophomore theatre and business major.
The work actually begins in the spring semester of each year, when a council of professors and students meet to choose all six shows for the upcoming year, Swincher said.
T. J. Walsh, assistant professor of theatre, said all theatre faculty members are present at the meeting.
We talk about the needs of the students and the curriculum, Walsh said, and try to include both historical plays and modern plays.
Once the semester begins, no time is wasted in getting ready for the season. This year, auditions for fall semester shows were held the first week of school.
Nearly 100 students auditioned for the 50 parts available, Walsh said.
Bellows auditioned for this semester’s shows.
“I started preparing for auditions this year about three weeks before,” Bellows said. “It takes a lot of work to get yourself prepared.”
After the first round of auditions is over, the directors post a callback list, naming the students they wish to see perform again.
“It’s basically just another opportunity for directors to look at students and see what they’re capable of,” Swincher said
After callbacks, casts are chosen and rehearsals usually begin four or five weeks before the show opens, Walsh said.
“You rehearse typically five days a week,” Bellows said. “You could spend anywhere from 20 to 25 hours a week in rehearsal.”
Although the rehearsal process is a huge part of a show, equal, if not more work is put into behind-the-scenes preparation, which includes lighting, sound, carpentry, costumes and makeup, Walsh said.
All together, there are six crews that help with a play’s production: box office, costume, prop, set, sound and lighting crews, Anderson said.
“While the actors are learning their lines and learning the show with the director,” Swincher said, “a crew with probably three to four times as many people is building a set, designing and putting together costumes.”
But a crew member’s work doesn’t stop at just getting things ready for a show; they’re still working when opening night rolls around, Anderson said.
“They’re backstage, helping actors make quick changes if they’re on costume crew,” Anderson said. “If they’re on scenery crew, they’ll be moving sets during scene changes. All crew is involved in the entire process.”
Once the curtain falls on closing night, all cast and crew members spend a few hours disassembling the sets, Anderson said.
Although the final product is, at most, only a few hours long and pales in comparison to the hours of preparation, theatre students feel it’s worth the work to get to perform for an audience.
“It’s all about the audience,” Swincher said. “It’s literally an exchange of energy. You don’t get that at a movie theater.