The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Student repetoire shows to bring life to the stage with three plays

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Actors rehearse for “Middletown,” which debuts Wednesday at 8 p.m. (Courtesy of Carson McCain)


As the semester draws to a close, an exciting time begins in the Meadows theatre as three student directors put on shows as their student repertoire productions. Three senior theatre students have been selected to design and direct plays on behalf of SMU’s Division of Theatre. This year, Kristen Kelso will direct “Marisol,” a play by José Rivera, Carson McCain will take on playwright Will Eno’s “Middletown,” and Sarah Hamilton will construct her own production of playwright Melissa James

Gibson’s “THIS.”

Kelso describes the rep shows as being something along the lines of a senior project, saying, “It’s like our thesis.”

Although the three plays are by no means a grade for Kelso, McCain or Hamilton, the amount of work and level of professionalism that the plays exhibit are evidence enough for A-worthy efforts.

The first play in the rep’s rotation is “THIS.” Last night, Hamilton made her debut.

“‘THIS’ is perhaps the closest [of the three plays] to realism in terms of style,” said Hamilton.

‘THIS’ takes place in present-day New York, and has a cast of just five characters, with Jane at the forefront. Hamilton best describes the play by saying that “When you can’t describe something, you use ‘this’ to describe it.” Essentially, the play is a study of life and everything that happens in life. Hamilton encourages audience members to listen for the word, “this” and discover the various things in the play that “this” describes.

In regards to Hamilton’s take on the play, she went about directing her actors toward something beneath the mere dialogue in the script.

“I focused a lot on what is not talked about,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton was intent that her actors find the real, underlying actions of a scene during rehearsals so that the final show might reflect those findings. Again, Hamilton echoes the realism she hears when reading the original play, while still tailoring the play to be her vision.

“It’s our first opportunity to run a room like a real professional,” McCain said, describing the experience of being a show director for a student Rep show.

McCain’s production of “Middletown” –– her “favorite play in the entire universe”––is next up on the rep’s rotation. The show begins Wednesday at 8 p.m.

McCain describes Eno’s play as a play that is focused on “birth, death and what’s in the middle.”

The only way that McCain knew how to take on Eno’s play was by telling her actors, “You are just acting and this is the only way you know how to speak.”

McCain describes Eno’s work as poetic in its descriptions of the nature of life and humanity. McCain, therefore, made it a goal to turn a potentially broadly-themed play into something tangibly-specific.

“Birth and death seem to be common themes in all of our plays this year,” McCain said.

Although Hamilton, McCain and Kelso did not “choose” their plays, per se, they were matched to plays within a pool of pre-picked plays. Luckily for all three of them, they were each matched to the play they leaned toward most.

In terms of the application process, Hamilton, McCain and Kelso were each required to submit a character description of three to five characters, in addition to two other key submissions. A “ground plan” (what the directors envisioned when reading the play) and a brief statement of why they wanted to direct their first-choice play were the specific portions of their applications.

Kelso was matched with Jose Rivera’s “Marisol,” and once more, similar themes of life and death are evident in this play.

Kelso describes the setting of “Marisol,” explaining that it is set in the ‘90s, and centers around a woman named Marisol and her journey through a “celestial war.”

“It’s a very physical show,” Kelso said. “When people [actors] weren’t getting it, I’d make them run around until they did.”

This physicality brings a reality to this “celestial war.”

The play was written based on Rivera’s uncle’s experience as a homeless person. This is a very real issue that is still prevalent in today’s society and is played into the overarching dichotomy at work.

“There is this dichotomy of us versus them,” said Kelso. “There is this beautiful grittiness of what work there still is to be done.”

Kelso mentioned that there are elements of angels, an apocalypse and other elements of birth and death.

It’s safe to say that though there is common thread that runs through the three of these plays, the student directors have truly produced visions that vary on stage.

For exact rotation dates and times, look on the Meadows website for information. Keep in mind that the three shows run for two weeks, so there is plenty of time to see one or all.

Check back Friday for the first review of the three plays, beginning with McCain’s production of “Middletown” debuting Wednesday.


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