DAT Blog

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So Many Orange Slices

Posted April 15, 2019

Post by Carl Lindberg, Theatre Program Chair.

5-minute read.


We've been posting at least one picture from every show so far, and I feel like it may help to share more about this idea.

The straight forward part of this... is I think it's interesting to get to share a photo with our audiences that was actually taken on stage during the action--it gives the audience a clear actor perspective. "We put ourselves in your shoes." an audience member once told a dear actor-fiend of mine.​

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The deeper cut is that this show, The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe, is so well written and so deftly handles so many themes about living and learning that I wish I could sit and highlight them all. But this moment, with the orange slices, so simply and wonderfully helps us see peer pressure and what it means to a person to want to be a part of the group. A group, any group. It shows us that even when we are trying to include someone in something bigger, we may not be succeeding if we can't be transparent and simultaneously open minded about how the person we think we're inviting in responds.

In the play, #46 isn't in the picture. She's the outsider, and she doesn't understand why it's being taken. Nor do we, really--it never gets explained. But that doesn't matter, because these orange slice moments hold so much meaning for the characters that it matters to us. #25 asks her to be in the picture--a nice thing to do. But #46 isn't sure she wants to join when she isn't sure what the meaning of the orange slices is. She's told to join anyway. The result is these pictures I keep posting.

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And I feel like it tells an important story.

(Photos by Krister Strandskov.)

Bootcamp

Posted April 10, 2019

​Post by Katie Huck, Theatre Program Student.

3-minute read.


I’ve never been in a production where I’ve had to play a sport on stage. I’ve tumbled on stage as choreography, but I’ve never had to control a ball as part of the play. So, this play is completely different than anything I’ve done. ​

Things never go exactly the same, exactly the way you want every time. Any time we do a run through, it’s always different. Sure, we have memorized lines that don’t change, and we have set blocking, but the ball never goes to the exact spot it did before. We all had to get comfortable with the soccer ball so it doesn’t have to be same every time. It took some time before everyone was in a comfortable place, but we did it. 

To help prepare, we attended soccer practices, or bootcamps, with members from the DMACC soccer team. We learned proper techniques and the right strategies. Some the cast had already played soccer in the past, but I did not. I’ve kicked around a soccer ball before, but I’ve never played the game. There was a lot I didn’t understand about the sport. That’s why the bootcamps were super helpful for me. We did a lot of drills to practice passing the ball to other people, and we learned some of the drills that are in the show. 

The bootcamps were super beneficial to me and the rest of the team. It helped us become comfortable with the ball, and now if things don’t go as planned on stage, we know how to handle the situation. If a ball goes offstage (hopefully that doesn’t happen!), we know how to take care of it. If we didn’t have bootcamps, we would be in trouble for sure. 

It’s something completely different than what I’ve done, but it’s been such a positive experience. I’m glad to have worked on this production greatly and I can’t wait for crowd to come watch what we’ve all worked so hard on! ​


How Did She Do That??

Posted March 29, 2019

​Post by Julianne Ungs, Theatre Program Student and Carl Lindberg, Theatre Program Chair.

3-minute read.


Julianne was cast as Gertie in our recent production of Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire; a role that provided a unique challenge, considering the way the character speaks after recently suffering a stroke.

Here are some examples of how those lines look, with their translations to the right:

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I asked Julianne, as did many others, what her memorization process was like. Here's what she said...


Memorizing Gertie’s lines was a unique challenge for me. The lines aren’t gibberish they are just jumbled. The first thing I had to do was understand what Gertie was actually saying. The playwright knew the person playing Gertie would need “translations” so to speak. All of Gertie’s lines and their translations are towards the end of the script. The translations helped me tremendously when I had to put meaning to the jumbled words and syllables. Gertie knows what she is saying and when she speaks she understands it perfectly so I needed to be able to show that.

After learning what the lines meant I started to memorize them as I would any other lines. I read them aloud with members of my family filling in the other characters lines. I also practiced by myself during breaks at work and in between my activities.

I memorized Gertie’s lines relatively the same as I have memorized other characters lines in the past, repetition. It was just a little different this time. I enjoyed the challenge and hope to play different types of characters in the future.​


ACTF 2019 Reflection

Posted February 26, 2019

​Post by Olivia McQuerry, Theatre Program Student.

3-minute read.


The best of my week at ACTF started half way through at a meeting for people of color to network and share our experiences and struggles in and out of theatre. I was reminded of the importance of not only ​​​​finding friends that support you, but a community that embraces you. I was finally joined in a discussion among those who’ve faced the same issues I have, but I’m hearing about issues I’ll eventually have to face. Here are just a few of the many questions and comments we discussed:

  • Why should I have to ask you to put yourself in my shoes in order for you to respect me?

  • Why do you have to pretend to be hurt just for you to realize you haven’t been treating me right?

  • ​When I walk into an audition, I shouldn’t feel like I’m competing with the other black people for the token minority role.

  • ​I was so hyped when I heard that we were doing West Side Story, and then I realized there were hardly any Puerto Ricans at the school to start with. Let alone those involved in theatre. The next season we weren’t allowed to do Hairspray because the segregation in the show was a “touchy subject” and “too controversial.”

  • ​He told me my audition was better than the white girl that they cast, but I’m “not what they were looking for.”

  • ​I could play that part just as well if they gave me a chance. But they see my skin and don’t think twice about giving me an ensemble role. It’s like the show was cast before auditions even started.

  • ​When a show specifically calls for the character to be a person of color, it’s because the show is about discrimination and prejudice. When a show specifically calls for the character to be white, it’s because other characters were specifically called to be people of color.

Being biracial, I had always felt underrepresented on stage. I could never quite see myself in the stories being told. When seeing a show, I would often only pay partial attention to the story, instead focusing my attention on one of the few minorities in the ensemble. Once I’d realized what I had been doing, I felt discouraged and lost the self-assurance to forge a new path. Besides, I’m not an actor (I guess now is a good time to mention that I stage manage). I drifted away from theatre, but despite nothing grabbing hold of my attention, I could never really let go. Fast forward through stage managing DMACC shows, seeing Hamilton (aka representation) for the first time, and shadowing professionals in the field. For the first time I’m seeing a w​ork space that is truly diverse. And in going to KCACTF, I’ve was met with a community that’s working to make this a more common reality.



The Quest for World Domination, Part 1

Posted January 25, 2019

​Post by Carl Lindberg, Theatre Program Chair

3-minute read.


Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

I couldn't tell you. Perhaps a scientist can. Or a theologian.​​

Similarly, when there essentially wasn't a Theatre Program on campus, I just started building one. But as we grow, what is the essential approach that distinguishes us, enrollment? or a bigger program? Do we need students with interest to force growth? or are we using a ​Field of Dreams method ("If you build it, they will come.")?​

I have gone pretty much full steam ahead with the Field of Dreams method... see the previous post, "New Year, New Stuff". But students interest continues to rise. 31 (31!) students auditioned for our 2 plays we're producing this semester. It was easily the hardest casting we've had since I arrived. Acting I was full well before classes started this semester... so we're gonna see if we can run 2 sections of Acting I.

Perhaps, just maybe, the chicken and the egg arrived at the same time?

Obviously, none of the above constitutes World Domination. I'm obviously being a little dramatic with that goal... But I think it's important to look at the bigger picture and try to envision what might be accomplished. After all, in acting classes I am always reminding actors to shoot for the moon when it comes to what the character wants. If one gets a near impossible goal achieved, imagine how that might feel.​

Stay tuned for parts 2 through... who knows! how many parts there'll be.

New Year, New Stuff

Posted January 2, 2019

​Post by Carl Lindberg, Theatre Department Program Chair

5-minute read


First of all, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the growth during 2018 for the Theatre Department.​ This year we:

  • wrote 7 new classes to be added to the Drama curriculum in the Fall of 2019 at DMACC, something students have really been asking for. Those classes include...
    • ​Acting II
    • Improvisational Acting
    • Intro to Play Analysis (an important one, because it'll be a pre-req. for Playwriting and Directing)
    • ... Directing! (see above)
    • Performing Shakespeare​
    • Acting for the Camera
    • The Business of Acting (a course about auditioning)
  • ​produced an awesome co-production of Ghost Bike by Laura Jacqmin with Grand View University (I could ((and should)) dedicate another post to this experience)
  • added 2 clubs
    • Ankeny Theatre Ensemble
    • An Improv Club
  • increased our number of auditioners from 18 to 27
  • performed 2 staged readings
    • Miss Julie by August Strindberg
    • Endgame by Samuel Beckett
  • cast more students in productions and staged readings in the Fall of 2018 than any previous semester
  • had a very (wet and) successful second annual Summer Short Shakespeare
  • proved a play about stamps could be interesting
That all stated, we have a lot of work to do!

Spring semester 2019 will be a huge test as we have added another full play to the production calendar: The Wolves by Sarah DeLappe.

The success of our staged readings coupled with the number of students interested in theatre on campus means we can provide students with more opportunities to work in a professionally oriented environment.

In order to be successful with all productions going forward, we have added a guest director for The Wolves, Brittany Beridon, and a resident Designer and Technical Director, Rachel Trimble and Krister Strandskov.

The hope is to move from 3 plays per season (1 in the Fall, 1 in the Spring, and 1 in the Summer) to 5 (2 in the Fall, 2 in the Spring, and Summer Short Shakespeare still solo in the Summer) for the 2019-2020 school year.

By adding courses and full productions to the program, we hope to become an immediate, legitimate option for students considering theatre as a major and/or profession.

Here's to a full plate in 2019!


How It Feels to Prep for An Audition

Posted September 4, 2018

​By Alex Brown, Theatre Program Student

2 minute read.


Auditions are this Tuesday and Wednesday and it is an exciting and anxious few days as we go through this process. Now this blog post is not about HOW to prepare for an audition, but more on how it FEELS getting READY to audition.

The days leading up to an audition are filled with excitement. For me, it is all about getting excited to audition and seeing the auditions from peers because I love seeing how much my peers have grown between auditions from past shows. I start by beginning a countdown till the day of auditions, and from there the excitement starts. But as we approach the day before and the day of auditions, a new wave of emotions hit all at once.

Once they hit the day before/day of auditions, the feeling of excitement still exists, but we add anxiousness and nervousness to the mix. Auditioning may get a little easier as I continue through theatre, but, I promise that the nervousness of auditioning will always be there (because I will always be as nervous as the first time I auditioned!), so, do not feel alone if you go into auditions nervous and everyone else may seem calm, cool, and collected, because deep down, we’re all nervous in some form (it just means that you care.) There will always be worries of not making it on the cast list, the anxiousness of waiting for the cast list to go up, and the excitement to see if you got a part, which is always followed by a vast amount of emotions.

Once auditions are over, all that’s left is the anxiousness of waiting, and it is very possible to get in your head about everything. “Was that audition good enough or could have I done better?” “How is everyone else feeling right now?” “How long will it be before the list goes up?” These are just a few thoughts that go through my head after auditions end, and I’m sure it is the same for many other theatre kids.

Auditions are a wave of many emotions, but, some advice I can offer to those who are incredibly nervous for their audition: Just take a deep breath, collect yourself, and just give it your all. We got this! Good luck to my fellow people auditioning this week, let’s kill it!​


The Pros and Cons of a Memorable Performance

Posted July 17, 2018

​​​​​​​​​​​​​Post By Carl Lindberg, Theatre Department Program Chair

5-minute read.​​​


 

A Play is Ephemeral

​​Ah, ephemeral, a fancy word, meaning "lasting for a very short time." Synonyms ​include fleeting, passing, short-lived, momentary, brief, short...

Productions of plays are all of these things. We work hard on them for months in advance and perform them a certain number of times, only for that particular production to live on in one's memory alone.

Whether a performance is memorable or not will obviously vary from person to person, and is dependent upon a lot of factors. ​Too many factors to list here.

That being said, we had a performance of Comedy of Errors this summer that I would bet will stick around in a lot of memory banks for a while to come...


 

​​The Set Up...

If you've made it to this blog, you likely have a sense of what we do at DMACC Ankeny Theatre (we are a professionally-oriented theatre program) and what Summer Short Shakespeare is (a 75-minute adaptation of one of Shakespeare's plays in a non-traditional performance space). There's the extra info... sue me (not really), it's our first blog post...

So this summer (2018) we had 6 performances of Comedy of Errors in an outdoor venue with various weather:

  • Show Number 1 and Show Number 2 had marvelous weather, I mean ideal for an outdoor performance in late June in Iowa.
  • Show Number 3 looked to eascape any inclement weather... then, about an hour-and-a-half before curtain we had downpour. The cast and crew hussled through the rain to set up our backup venue. We got soaked, but the audience didn't. And this is not the most memorable performance.
  • Show Number 4 gave us extreme heat--we started the show in the 90's with humidity. The audience (our biggest) had a great time, and the cast drank a tone of water.
  • Show Number 5 was pretty nice.
  • Then we came to Show Number 6, our final performance. This is where things got interesting...

 

​The Memorable Performance

There was definitely rain in the area and in the forecast. I decided, in my supreme wisdom and meteorological expertise (neither of which I possess), that the weather would just miss us and we should perform outside in our usual performance space.​

You see where this is heading...

During scene 2 the wind picked up and there were a couple sprinkles. I paused the show between scenes 2 and 3. That's memorable.

We stepped into the hallways of Building 2 and checked the radar. Uh-oh. A storm was coming.

The sprinkle let up and we moved the set, props, and sound equipment into the Black Box Theatre in Building 5 across the way. Also memorable.

After our 15-minute rearrangement I gave a quick before-scene-3, in-a-new-venue curtain speech, mostly to stall, and we picked up where we had left off. Right then the deluge began.


 

​The Cons of a Memorable Performance

​What makes something a pro versus a con is subjective, like much in life. So take the following cons with a grain of salt.

We got a lot of rain from 7:30 pm the night of Saturday, June 30th, the moment Comedy of Errors re-started and the faucet-in-the-sky opened up. I wasn't using the term deluge as a means of exaggerative storytelling. In the next 2 hours Ankeny would get 10" of rain and it didn't stop at 9:30.

The majority of the cast stayed the night with the play's Courtezan (interesting coincidence) because many roads farther from campus were impassable.

Much of the audience got drenched getting to their cars and had scary drives home in heavy rain, that made it hard to see, and flooded roads.

It was a one-of-a-kind weather occurrence and it hit right in the middle of our play.


 

​The Pros of a Memorable Performance

​From all accounts, up until the time of this posting, everyone who came to the show in any capacity was safe and eventually got to where they needed to get okay.

No one really got wet while sitting outside watching the show, despite getting soaked on the way to their cars. Some audience members even helped to carry some scenery and props into the Black Box!

The show itself went great.

This was truly a unique set of circumstances to deal with for the actors, audience, and crew. While that wasn't the kind of memorable we had planned for, it's the kind of memorable we got.

And lasting memories made at the theatre are one thing we hope to create.