The acting the audience sees on stage for plays such as, “The Secret Garden” and “Picasso at the Lapine Agile” is only part of what it takes to make a great theatre production.
“What a lot of people don’t realize when you just go and watch a play, is it seems so put together and that it’s easy… all the stuff happens, but there’s so much that goes into what we do absolutely behind the scenes,” Jacob Davis, professor and theatre director of “Picasso at the Lapine Agile” at Tyler Junior College said. “Like right now, already a week before school started I went through and we pulled rehearsal props … I’m going to start building an early 1900 wheelbarrow … I’m going to build it from scratch.”
During the six-week process for the play, Davis, along with 30 to 40 other people work together to build their own props, sets and costumes. Putting together the show includes people working the lights, sound effects, and building platforms.
“There may only be 15 people or 15 actors on stage and it looks like that’s all that there is, but it turns out that there is 60-70 people that have all done things to help this play reach the point that it is,” Davis said.
Every student and director takes part in something. Whether it’s fixing the lights or building props for rehearsal, everyone has a job that counts every bit towards the show.
“I don’t just come and do my part, I come and I help build sets,” said C.C. Weatherly, a sophomore who plays Mary in “The Secret Garden.”
“At TJC, we all have to work. We all have to do everything. We build our own sets, we make our own costumes, we do everything,” Weatherly said.
Weatherly also said many schools expect students to just be actors, but at TJC there’s more to it than that. All students work together to create a setting that is engaging to the audience.
Plays are given roughly six-weeks of rehearsal, a final weekend for tech rehearsals and then performances are ready to begin. With everyone having a job to do and meeting deadlines, it can get very hectic in the Theatre Department.
“It can get, not so much frustrating, it gets busy,” said Stephanie Spencer. “We get a lot of things going at once, and so you’re running back and forth doing something, like even in the rehearsal process. If someone is on stage blocking the show, other people are working on their music or other people are working on lines.” Spencer plays the character of Martha in “The Secret Garden.”
Spencer said preparing for a play can become very busy because everyone is always doing something. Helping each other remember lines and setting up while doing all sorts of other things can be a very busy day during rehearsal.
“It’s just a big collaborative experience.” Spencer said.
Students also go the extra mile to make sure things get done. They often stay after hours to set up and work to perfection.
Weatherly spends most of her time preparing and working with other theatre students.
“I don’t do work study, but I’m up here just as much as the kids who do get paid. I never go home and if I do go home, it’s like 11:30 to 8 a.m. in the morning,” said Weatherly.
Weatherly, along with Spencer, dedicate most of their time to theatre because it something they say they love doing.
“It’s very difficult because I have to find time to do my homework during rehearsal and I only leave stage three times … It is really, really hard because you have to find time for school and there’s not much time for it … There’s no time for boyfriends, there’s no time for dating …” said Weatherly.
Even under the circumstances, Weatherly continues to put time in something she’s always wanted to do.
“The Secret Garden” will be performed Feb. 20-23, 2013 in Wise Auditorium. For more information, please contact Director Denise Weatherly-Green at 903-510-2484.
“Picasso at the Lapine Agile” will take the stage April 24-28, 2013 at the Jean Browne Theatre. For further information please contact Director Jacob Davis at 903-510-2045.
Shows will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the box office, in Jean Browne, the week of the show or available at 903-510-2212.
By Dana Smith