Theater department hosts ‘welcome back gathering’

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American River College theater professor Tracy Shearer speaks with students in the lobby of the ARC Theatre on Aug. 25, 2016. The theater department hosted a gathering welcoming students back for the year. (Photo by Hannah Darden)

John Ennis and Luis Gael

By Luis Gael Jimenez and John Ennis

The American River College theater department’s “Welcome Back Gathering” at the ARC Theatre on Thursday afternoon brought nearly 40 students and professors to the main stage to discuss upcoming productions and give information about clubs, classes and volunteer opportunities.

Theater professors Tracy Shearer, Pamela Downs, Sam Williams and Nancy Silva introduced the shows they will be directing for the 2016–2017 season, from October through May.

The first show of the season will be “Cabaret,” directed by Silva. The show will run from Oct. 7–23.

The musical, set in 1931 Germany, has multiple versions, including the famous 1972 movie adaptation.

The theater department will be producing the 1998 version of the play, which Silva referred to as “the sleazy one.”

“We chose the ‘98 version, which is a lot harsher and a lot darker. … You leave the theater with an impression, a feeling,” said Silva. “You leave the theater with a need for vigilance for society.”

Williams, ARC theater professor and choreographer, announced that “The Shepherd’s Play” will be the second production of the season.

The Medieval slapstick play will feature tap-dancing sheep and a blend of hip-hop, jazz and gospel music, and is written entirely in Old English. The play will run from Nov. 18 to Dec. 4.

The department’s third play, along with its guest director, have yet to be announced, but Shearer said that the production details will be available in the next few weeks.

Auditions for the unannounced show will take place November 28–29, and the show will run next semester, from Feb. 24 to Mar. 5.

The spring lineup will also include a touring children’s show, which will go to area elementary schools for performances, and the annual production of compilation show “Gumbo!.”

The final show of the season will be “The Beaux’ Stratagem,” directed by Downs, who said she has aspired to direct the show for 35 years. The show will hold auditions next January and will run in late April.

The comedy of manners will include elaborate costumes, men in high heels, sharp, witty dialogue and female servants engaging in sword fights.

Downs mentioned that there were five female roles, unusual for a play written in 1707, and said “the play changed English literature.”

Shearer also said that the theater department needs volunteers to work in concessions and as ushers during this season’s performances. Volunteers get to attend the shows for free as compensation for their time.

The meeting brought in technical theater professor Kathy Burleson, who encouraged students to enroll in technical theater classes covering subjects like stage lighting, sound, costuming and set building.

Burleson also stressed the importance of turning to theater arts faculty for help getting degrees and certificates.

“We really want to push you getting certificates and degrees… find us and we’ll help you do that,” Burleson said.

The gathering also offered opportunities for student club leaders to advertise their clubs.

The theater arts club, film club and improv club had executive members pitch their clubs to the audience and discuss their meeting times and plans for the semester.

Theater arts club president Annalies Veldman highlighted the club’s semesterly events, including master class workshops, a theater arts “winter ball” at the end of the semester and “Cafe Noir,” an open mic-type event which invites writers, singers, actors and musicians to perform.

The improv club meet on Wednesdays from 6:15 to 7:30 in room 102 of the Life Sciences and Fine Arts building, and use their time to play and watch improv games.

A representative from the film club said that the meeting times and officers are still being worked out, and information will be available soon.