The Theatre Department has more to offer than its main season of three plays and a musical. The Venue and Studio 103 Play Reading Series are two more performance series offered throughout the semester.
The Venue is advertised as “TJC’s Original Coffee House.” Theatre professor Dr. David Crawford said that it was created as “a late-night Saturday activity to give the kid on campus something to do that was free and fun.” This event, which is held multiple times each semester, enables students to share their artistic talents at Jean Browne Theatre.
“We patterned it after the old-timey beatnik generation coffeehouse, where you had the freedom to be able to share your creativity,” said Crawford. “You play the guitar? Play it. You write poetry? Read it. You do stand-up comedy? Stand up. You juggle? Juggle. Dancing, playing instruments – all of these have been done.”
To perform at the Venue, you must be a TJC student or have received permission from a faculty member. You can sign up to perform with the master of ceremonies that night.
“There are rules,” explained Crawford. “No vulgarity. No food or drink in the theatre. Five minute slots. No proselytizing, preaching [or] selling.”
“[The Venue is] a very safe and welcoming environment that allows you to show others anything you can do,” said sophomore theatre major Kaitlyn Sullivan. “I actually sang for the first time in front of an audience at the last Venue just because I felt comfortable enough … Knowing that the audience is full of supportive friends and peers gives you that confidence boost that we all need to get up on stage to perform. It’s the best sense of community, and is definitely something everyone should participate in.”
Sophomore theatre major Will Clark described The Venue as “a nice, quaint, safe place where anyone can perform.”
Students who are not interested in performing at The Venue are welcome to attend as audience members, and can expect snacks and coffee. “A lot of people just want to show up, eat food, and enjoy,” explained Crawford, “and that’s what it’s for – just to give the students something to do on the weekends.”
Studio 103 Play Reading Series is another performing arts series by TJC Theatre.
“What we’re looking for in the Theatre Department is for more and more opportunities for the students to perform,” said Crawford. “We’ve got the main stage season – well, that’s four [plays]. We’ve got 70 kids, and they can’t all be in four plays. So, what we’re looking for is more opportunities. We also have the second stage series. And the second stage series is a shorter piece that is produced in between the major productions … in between those are studio readings.”
During a reading, students perform a play without blocking, costumes, or line memorization. “We’ll have chairs where all the actors sit, and when it’s their character’s time to talk, they’ll stand up,” Crawford explained. “They have the script, and they read from it. But they’re reading dramatically.”
Studio 103 readings are usually original plays or plays by lesser-known playwrights. “They’re shorter pieces that you don’t normally get to see,” he said, “and it gives our theatre students another chance to perform, which is why they’re here.”
“[Studio 103 is] a very fun way to get involved with the theatre department without the stress of memorizing lines, blocking or numerous rehearsals,” stated Sullivan. “My favorite part is that every reading I’ve been involved in has been pretty humorous.”
Clark expressed gratitude for having the opportunity to perform in Studio 103. “The Studio 103 readings have come at just the right times in my life,” he said. “When I was feeling very low, I was cast in a reading directed by [Director of Theatre Facilities] Bryce McWilliams … I met my very best friends from that cast. Each reading I’ve been a part of has helped me in some aspect of my craft.”
The Venue and Studio 103 play readings are both free to attend. “All we’re looking for is an audience,” said Crawford.
The Venue will take place on Oct. 27 and Nov. 10 from 9 p.m. – 11 p.m. in Jean Browne Theatre. Studio 103 play readings of “Midnight Caller” by Horton Foote are scheduled for Oct. 26 and 3.p.m. and Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. in Fine Arts 103.