The St. Ambrose University Theatre Department offers students a wide variety of elements to explore in theatre. During the school year, students can take acting and script analysis classes, try their hands at stage lighting, costume design, directing, and stage managing among other things! Every January, students can compete for scholarships and awards along with attending many different educational workshops at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. Every few years, students can travel abroad within the program to study and experience theater around the world.
Amazingly, starting this month, a new workshop will give St. Ambrose students the opportunity to learn and experiment with another aspect of theatre: Play writing!
This certainly won't be the first time students have been part of the play writing process. The Current Dramatic Literature class recently offered students the opportunity to read some new plays, such as Michael Johnson's ben and trish. as well as Aaron Randolph III's Broken, and take notes to send to the authors. The recent children's show Cinderella was workshopped throughout the process of rehearsals to meet the challenge of producing a children's show at a college level.
However, during this project the students will not be workshopping and editing someone else's play, but will be helping to create a new work. This group will workshop, research, and perform improv to help Randolph to write an original script. Randolph is a familiar face in the St. Ambrose community, especially after composing music for the St. Ambrose Theatre Department's productions of The Tempest and Richard III during the past academic year. Although many students may have had the chance to work with Randolph backstage, this will be a new chance for students to work with him directly.
Randolph has written both plays and musicals for children and adults, including the children's musical 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the plays The Plagiarist, A Green River, and Broken. Within his plays, there is an emphasis on exploring raw emotion and different styles of writing. For example, his play A Green River tells the story of a veteran who struggles to re-adjust to his life at home.
The play is told through a series of scenes that jump without warning between his military life, his teenage years, and his childhood, giving audiences an understanding of the veteran's disorientation and confusion between past and present. Broken explores the conflicting emotions of a survivor of human trafficking, often masked under sharply written dialogue. One memorable moment in the play comes when the main character half-mockingly describes her home city of Davenport, prompting both laughter and the much more serious recognition that human trafficking is present here.
Starting February 2, seniors Kayla Lansing and Brian Leibforth, juniors Sarah Goodall and Rebecca Moews, sophomores TJ Green and Jessica Karolczak, and first-years Luke Peterson and Ellie Larson will jump into helping Randolph produce his next new script. Who knows what they'll create? For those of us who aren't writing, we'll just have to wait and see!