By Parijat Jha
It is a Thursday night, the lights are dim, and the audience is anxious to see the plays begin. The actors are backstage ready to preform, hoping their weeks of hard work will pay off.
Little Theatre Little Shows is a series of short plays unlike any other production throughout the year. The plays showcase unique talents, such as playwriting and producing. According to producer Greg Varner, the idea of LTLS was sparked by “Skitfest,” a festival featuring a series of short skits at The Ohio State University. After seeing these plays, Varner created a series of student-driven shows that give UAHS thespians a chance to show off their theatre skills.
The show is entirely student-run, from the directors to producers, the costume designers to the actors. Each of these shows is an original or an adapted work by a student. Junior Ian Able said he enoys the production process.
“The greatest thing about LTLS is the fact that I can see people I may never have met before in the halls,” Able said. “And I know that even though we may differ on everything else, we at least enjoy making a great show together.”
Since students write the plays, their personalities create variety in the types of shows, including comedy, drama, experimental pieces or modified versions of a well-known classic text. The shows give theatre students an opportunity to express their creativity along with their leadership abilities, Varner said. Directors who hope to have their plays shown have to write their own play and audition actors for it.
“The process begins with the writers who are hoping to have their scripts included in the show,” Varner said. “At the pitch they will present their applications and their concepts for consideration. Nine or 10 shows will be selected”.
After the pitch, directors set up actor auditions. About 75 students audition for roles in these plays, Varner said. Following the selection process, directors set up rehearsal time, and the casts begin practicing daily for the big night.
Like any other extracurricular activity, LTLS is time consuming and requires dedication. Each step needs to be perfected for the shows to be presented well, Able said.
“The worst thing is the scheduling and practices until opening night,” he explained. “You need to combine several people’s lives so that they can meet up to practice, and every cast brings with it difficulties. All the people’s need to make sacrifices, but nothing feels quite as good as the moment you realize that you just performed an awesome show.”
During the rehearsal process, the actors and directors work together in an attempt to make sure each scene is flawless. The time that actors spend working with their directors promote cohesiveness in the student-written scripts. During these sessions, actors and directors can alter lines or even entire elements of the play’s plot.
In the last two weeks before the show, the casts present their shows for the production crew, which includes sound and light designers, stage managers and Varner. The costume designers also decide what the actors are going to wear. After adding these finishing touches and picking a soundtrack theme for the night, the shows are ready to be presented.
The shows being presented this year entail a lot of drama. Able’s show, “Looking for Julia,” presents a man attempting to recollect a woman in his past, but he cannot remember why she is important.
“When he finally figures out why the woman is important, he wonders whether finding out the truth was worth it,” Able said. “During his struggle in trying to regain his memory, the man crosses many moral dilemmas, and in the end quite a few life lessons are taught.”
In contrast, sophomore Erin Mellon and senior Emily Mellon have written a comedic show called “Centerpieces, Chicken, and the Geneva Convention.”
“It is a comedy about family dysfunction and miscommunication, and the ensuing hilarity that can result from the two elements,” Erin said. “The play is loosely inspired by our family and the occasional chaos that takes place. However, the actual events are fictionalized.”
LTLS is a must-see theater event, Erin said. Students can see their fellow peers use their creativity and individuality to create a great series of shows.
“One of the most memorable parts is during that final curtain call of the evening, when every cast member from every show joins one another onstage for a bow,” Erin said. “At that moment, you truly realize how over just a few weeks, you have pulled together one of the most popular and memorable shows of the year.”