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Theater prepares to show Southern Hospitality

Pacing footsteps fall across the brick floor of the Jean Browne Theater the week after “Fall of Troy” has ended. Anxious students busy themselves with schoolwork and light conversations while trying to keep their nervousness at bay. The constant cycle of the theater kid’s lives has started over, leaving them to begin with auditions once again.

After the cast of the first show gave its final bow, the Tyler Junior College theater students moved directly into striking the set. They swarmed the elaborate design of Troy, taking it apart piece by piece. They began to get the stage ready for the new show’s set and this scenery is said to be a far cry from the style of the ancient Trojans.

“We’re going from leather to duct tape,” Rebecca Faulds, TJC theater professor, said of the drastic change from Trojan costumes used on the last show.

The second show of the year is “Southern Hospitality,” written by Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Woodward. The play is about four sisters who live in a small town called Fayro, Texas and the struggles they go through after the town’s main factory shuts down. The four sisters take the responsibility of saving the town into their own hands. They plot to impress a manufacturing representative that is checking out the town to see if it is suitable for the salsa factory he works with to relocate there. The sisters come up with creative ideas on how to make an impression on this representative.

“They’re doing this civil war reenactment…so they’re moving the battle of Vicksburg to Fayro to impress somebody….they have to come up with Confederate and Union soldier outfits…we’re going to be using a lot of found clothes and duct tape,” Faulds said.

The students bounce around the theater talking about the new show. After performing in many plays, some TJC students still get anxious about going through auditions.

“I still get nervous. I still get butterflies in my stomach, but as soon as I get onstage I feel fine,” Brandi Thompson, TJC sophomore, said.

The auditions for “Southern Hospitality” are different from the ones that were held for “Fall of Troy.” For the first show, the students were required to have a memorized monologue that they would perform in front of the director.

For the second show, the students had to participate in a cold reading, which is where the group of hopeful actors gather and read the script while the director of the show picks certain people to read for different characters. This will go on until the director has an idea of who he or she wants for each character.

Preparing for a monologue involves a whole different approach than preparing for a cold reading.

“I read four scripts to understand different characters,” Thompson said of picking a monologue for the “Fall of Troy” auditions. “I highlighted the pieces that I loved and picked the one I liked best.”

With a cold reading, the students have a more laid back outlook on auditions and rely more on natural instincts. There is not much preparation that can go into a cold reading. In some cases, the students are not allowed to read the play before going into the auditions. Luckily they were allowed to read “Southern Hospitality” instead of going in blindly and this took their nerves down a couple notches.

“If I’m allowed to read the play, I read the play,” Thompson said. “I just have to go in there, be positive and not get nervous.”

“Southern Hospitality” is the third play in a trilogy that began with “Dearly Beloved” and is followed by “Christmas Belles.” The TJC theater department performed “Christmas Belles” four years ago. After hearing about the show’s pet costume parade, beauty pageant and civil war reenactment, the students are anxious to see how it will play out.

Jacque Shackelford, TJC theater professor, is the director of this upcoming show, and a broad smile creeps onto her face whenever she talks about the upcoming weeks of preparation.

“It’s going to be such a fun show,” Shackelford said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

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