Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Theatre AUM: "Cross Cast: acting showcase of songs, scenes, and monologues"

At the start of each academic year, Theatre AUM produces an Acting Showcase, affording student actors opportunities and experiences in presenting short selections that demonstrate their individual strengths. 

This year's title is Cross Cast, with selections performed by an ensemble of eight actors -- all male -- performing [with the exception of "There is Nothing Like a Dame" from the musical South Pacific], some 16 selections written for female characters.

As an exercise, there are a number of challenges, not the least of which is to bring a fully realized character to life in an excerpted monologue from a play, without the luxury of developing a role over two full acts; in addition, in order to make a significant impact, each selection needs to stand on its own in a clear moment independent of the play's context; ideally, in both monologues and scenes, there ought to be clear beginnings, middles, and ends; and they should be presented with full-on energy and clear diction from the very start, and end on a strong note.

There is a range of acting talent in this group, and not every selection hit the challenges above.  Yet, there is strength in both individuals and in shared selections.

While several pieces were excerpted from familiar plays like Crimes of the Heart, Nine to Five, and A Chorus Line, the less familiar scripts made us listen more attentively -- and guess what? In almost every selection performed in just 45-minutes, one could almost forget that men were playing female roles; the subject matter hit on topics that are more universal: "Am I ok?" in this world today; "What is my worth?"; "Do we succumb to outside pressures?" -- quite the accomplishment.