Hitting the Ground Running
Hey there everybody! My name is Alex Raby and I’m a senior Theatre Performance major from Indianapolis, Indiana. I’m super excited to be back for my last year here, much of which will entail me applying to graduate school, but hopefully a good majority of it will be spent making the most of my last two semesters at UE.
They get us started early in the theatre department, making everybody perform the first day of school in one big four-hour-long marathon that is The General Auditions. I like to watch all the auditions, just to support my classmates and see how they’ve grown as performers since I last saw them. This semester, we were asked to do a monologue and a song in a two-minute time frame (Nooot easy…) and so I looked at the roles that I was going for this semester and tried to pick pieces that evoked certain qualities similar to the characters I was aiming for.
Auditions are stressful for everybody, not only because the tension in the hallway can be cut with a knife, but because performing in front of all your teachers that have helped you grow over the past four years does tend to put a bit of pressure on you to show that growth. Knowing the people at the director’s table is far worse than not knowing them at all, and so I think it’s something I will be very grateful for in the “real world.”
After Generals are done, the next day Callbacks lists are posted. These are a list of people that the directors want to see read from the script for particular roles. I was called back for Clybourne Park and Sweeney Todd(the musical), which were on separate nights. That’s generally nice because it gave me something to do instead of sitting at home freaking out and overanalyzing every little detail about auditions week. I generally try to go workout or watch a movie or cook so that I keep busy and keep my mind off of useless worrying. Cast Lists are posted around 9:00 am that Saturday morning, which gets us college students out of bed unusually quickly. I was lucky enough this year to be cast in Clybourne Park, a show directed by Head of the Department John David Lutz. I've never worked with him on a show before and he's nationally acclaimed for his directorial skills, so I was pretty giddy when I saw my name on the list.
The synopsis of Clybourne Park is as follows: Clybourne Park explodes in two outrageous acts set 50 years apart. Act One takes place in 1959, as nervous community leaders anxiously try to stop the sale of a home to a black family. Act Two is set in the same house in the present day, as the now predominantly African-American neighborhood battles to hold its ground in the face of gentrification.
We’re already a month into rehearsals(we started the second day of school and have gone every night since then) and have one week to go until opening! What's neat about the show is that it's the same actors in the first and second act, we just play different characters. I play Betsy in the first act, a hearing-impaired pregnant woman, and Lindsey in the second act, who has bought the house and is trying to convince the neighborhood association to let her build the house she wants. Everything is just kind of a whirlwind right now. Rehearsals go every night from 7 to 10 and then I have to memorize and research on my own time. It’s a fabulous script that won both the Pulitzer and the Tony Award for Best Play, and I can’t wait for everybody to see it! Clybourne runs from September 27th to October 6th. It’s a hilarious script, but the show also has its darker moments as well, so that’s really fun to play as an actor. And one of the cool things about UE is that everybody gets a free ticket to see the show! Stop by if you get a chance!
Here's a picture of the (clearly unfinished) set! What's really interesting about this particular show is that they have to build a house and decorate in the style of the '50s, and then they have 15 minutes to make it look 50 years older and considerably more worn down and aged.