Student Life Archives (2001-2008)

A look at Student Theatre

Three student theatre groups spring into action during the second half of April, with Cast’n’Crew, Thyrsus and All Student Theatre each presenting a play and a way to see on-campus theatre not affiliated with the Performing Arts Department.

Cast’n’Crew’s second-ever spring production is Joe Orton’s “What the Butler Saw.” Orton, a gay British playwright of the 1960s, is as much known for his dark, farcical comedies as he is for his own tragic ending. In 1967 he was murdered in his sleep by his lover, another playwright who was jealous of Orton’s success and bludgeoned him to death by repeatedly slamming a hammer into his head.

“What the Butler Saw,” Orton’s last play, turned out to be his most successful. At the most basic level, the play surrounds a psychiatrist, his wife and a web of absurd seduction (and adultery) that grows around them. Amidst the rather convoluted plot lies the real fun: a lot of nudity, cross-dressing, sex and drugs.

“A lot of the play is about how we look at sex and how we look at gender,” said Ted Drury, the play’s director. “There’s a lot of cross-dressing, changing gender roles and lots of sexual deviousness.”

In this somewhat absurdist (and certainly dark) comedy, some important questions get asked: “What are these gender identities? What does it all mean? Who’s mad and who’s sane?” said Drury.

Thyrsus’ production takes student theatre in a different direction. Its presentation of “A Song” is the third in a trilogy written by junior Lauren Dusek. The trilogy continues the Thyrsus tradition of delivering site-specific theatre. In past years, Thyrsus has produced plays in bathrooms, classrooms and the January tunnel. This year, the first two plays in Dusek’s trilogy, “A Shave” and “A Haircut,” were staged in the parking lot behind the law school and in a Millbrook dorm room, respectively. “A Song” will be presented in an Athletic Complex racquetball court.

“It’s a love story,” said Dusek. “The whole trilogy is a love story.”

Better yet, it is a love story involving college students – no doubt a suitable topic.

“This [last play in the trilogy] is my favorite so far,” said Dusek. “It was the hardest to write and the most rewarding. Hopefully it will be the same for the people who have seen the other two beforehand and for those who are seeing “A Song” as their first play in the trilogy.”

Senior Matt Goldman is the director, and the play stars freshman Carli Miller and junior Ian Sherman.

Lastly, All Student Theatre will present “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” this weekend. AST’s annual outdoor production is Tom Stoppard’s existential play about the clueless minor characters of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” and is directed by Carolyn Kras and Justin Rincker and stars Laura Harrison, Lisa Sullivan, Brian Stojak and Liz Calvert.

Cast’n’Crew’s “What the Butler Saw” will be performed in the Small Group Housing Theatre in the Village House basement, starting Fri., April 21 at 8 p.m., on Sat. at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and on Sun. at 7 p.m. Thyrsus’ “A Song” will be performed in an AC racquetball court on April 14, 15 and 16, three times each night at 9, 10 and 11 p.m. AST’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” will be performed Thurs., April 13 through Sun., April 16 at 8 p.m.

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