For most people, the only part of theater they get a chance to be a part of is the end product. For the audience, the two or three hours spent watching the play is all they do. But ask any person who has worked behind the scenes of a play or musical, and they will say that so much more than you can imagine goes into that performance.
Paul Griffin plays the part of Yang Sun in the theater’s current production The Good Soul of Szechuan, and he says that theater can literally take over your life during the pre-production rehearsals.
“Something that people don’t realize about rehearsals is how much time and work a play takes to put on. In college, there is a month’s time to put on a show. That means rehearsing from 6-11 every single day of the week. As far as tech goes, people will be building and designing set, lights, and sound sometimes up to twelve hours of the day for an entire month,” said Griffin. “Being a theatre major leaves time for about an hour of social time a day on top of classes. Some of us even find it difficult making time to eat.”
Whitney Snow Walker, who plays Mrs. Shin, also offers that there is a lot that goes into rehearsals, but she says rehearsals make for a fun part of theater life.
“It takes tons of hours to put a show together. In my personal experience, I think I’ve spent a minimum of 10 hours a week on a show,” said Walker. “At home, I did a few professional productions and we had 8 days of 6 hour rehearsals, 1 day of 10 hours of rehearsal and then 3 weeks of performances. It’s very intense, but also creative and you become a family with the rest of the cast. I’ve also worked on the production side of shows and they put in as many, if not more hours.”
Even though there’s a lot of work that goes into a play, many of the cast members love the work because it gives them a place to escape to.
Kelsey Gondek, who plays Wang, said “My favorite aspect [of acting] is the chance to just take on this completely different persona and kind of run away from the real world for a while. In my opinion there is not bad part.”
For Griffin, putting in all the work for a performance is all worth it because the end product is such a fulfilling experience.
“The bow at the end of a performance is by far the most satisfying feeling an actor has ever experienced. And for techies, it is seeing their work come to fruition during a show. So much work is put into this area and knowing that the audience has actually enjoyed your work makes it all worthwhile.”
If you’re interested in all the madness that goes into creating a production at McDaniel you certainly should get involved.
“A tip for someone looking into theater at McDaniel is just to take the plunge into a show,” said Gondek. “Audition, take an acting class, go for tech crew, anything.”
Griffin supplied further advice for the budding actor. “If you’re interested in theater, but feel too nervous about auditioning, work behind the scenes for a show,” said Griffin. “Whether it’s lighting or costumes or set building, it really gives you that foot in the door that you need to get involved.”
If you’d rather just be an observer of the arts, the next performance is of the show The Good Soul of Szechuan which runs October 5th through the 8th.
“Everyone should go see this show because it is going to be insane. The concept is completely different from any play that I’ve seen,” said Walker. “We’ve taken an old show and turned it into something that has aspects every person would like. The music varies between different styles, the costumes are crazy and the set is just cool to look at.”