Central Wyoming College theater students have generated so much material for the ninth annual Theater Showcase that each performance will be totally different.
The Showcase, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, April 20 and 21 and a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 22, features a combination of short original student work, comedy, drama, and musical numbers.
Seventeen directors have been selected to showcase their talents that will feature a total of 75 actors during the three performance dates, said Director Mike Myers. In past years, two sets of student-directed plays were featured at two different times. This year, they dropped the Thursday performance, giving each date their own unique set of shows.
The theater shorts are presented in the small performance space of the Robert A. Peck Arts Center dance studio. “I just love the intimacy of it,” Myers said. “Because the audience is so close to the actors, it has a real community feel.”
Student interest in the Showcase has grown steadily. “It gets bigger every year,” he said, crediting it to more majors and to the addition of playwriting and advanced acting classes this semester.
Some of the actors are doing as many as four shows and each director is acting in their classmates’ shows. Developing a rehearsal schedule has been a nightmare, Myers said, and students are rehearsing in numerous locations, both on- and off-campus to prepare for the Showcase.
Three students, Pat Bergin, Quincie Cowell and Aaron King, have written their own one-act plays and one is featured each night. Theater technician student John Pedersen has volunteered to be the technical director for the entire show, helping each director with their lighting and sound. The directors are responsible for acquiring props and costumes for their shows.
Myers will argue the student-directed Showcase is probably the most important show the theater department does because the students are totally in charge of the production, which enhances their co-curricular learning experience.
His playwriting class collaborated on a 40-page play about an Irish family who escaped the potato famine in the 1850s by immigrating to New York. While this play will not be featured at the Showcase, CWC film students are documenting it for other audiences.
“They researched it and read all about the potato famine and the immigrants’ life in New York tenement housing,” Myer said. “There are very few colleges in America that encourage playwriting the way that we do.” He said this particular experience gave the students lessons in history, social issues and diversity, as well as learning how to act for the cameras.