A deranged actress, a copycat sister, a taxi dancer and a suitcase with a secret, were only a few of the characters seen at this year’s September Project. If you have been at Eastern for a few years now, and this is your first time hearing of this event, you are not alone. The first theatre production of the year usually happens some time in November, but this year the new director of theatre, Jenny Tibbels, wanted to hit the ground running with this fast-paced production. The members of Actors lab created improvised scenes with one other person using no words. The prompt was: Person A starts on stage. Person B tries to get something from A. Tries three times, fails or succeeds.
From this prompt the scenes were born, and the task was to then put words to these wordless improvs. The partners worked together for the next two days writing and revising their scenes, down to the last minute until they were performed. The stage was set up with chairs and tables for an intimate night of theatre. There were even cookies and coffee provided at this completely free event.
The first scene to be performed was written by Eastern’s playwright-in-residence, Edgar Mendoza, from his play “Broken Spoke”. Kurt Oui and Eastern alumni Kaylee Goodwin performed the scene exploring the relationship of an immigrant from Vietnam and a taxi dancer meeting for the first time in a dance hall. The rest of the scenes written and peformed by Eastern students varied greatly considering they were all given the same prompt. There was a time of questions and answers after the performances were done and we were given more insight into the rest of Mendoza’s play and the reasoning behind some of the choices he made.
This style of improvisational creating will fuel the new musical being written for the spring production. As stated earlier, our playwright-in-residence is going to be watching the improvs that happen in Actors lab and then use that material to write the book for the new musical. This is going to be a giant collaboration between the dance, music and theatre departments. The dance department is already working on a ballet piece, and the music department is going to be the orchestra for the performance. This is a huge undertaking for the fine arts department, but Tibbels said, “God asked me to do this. I could have done a musical that is already written, but this new story needs to be told.” There are big things in store for the fine arts at Eastern, so stay tuned for more exciting news.