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

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Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024

Satirical soap comes to SMU

What is more drama-filled than the life of an SMU student?

A soap opera about SMU students.

Sarah Aghassi, chair of Program Council’s performing andvisual arts committee, has created “The Rich andPretentious,” a satirical soap born from SMU stereotypes.

The junior business major and self-proclaimed soap-loverbrainstormed last summer about what to do for the committee’sperformance. Her idea — mixing the quintessential elements ofa soap opera with generally accepted SMU jokes.

“It’s not malicious,” Aghassi said.

The soap consists of three, 15-minute episodes, directed byAghassi and filmed by J. Mandyam, a senior film major and ProgramCouncil chair. Each episode tells a separate story, co-written byAghassi and Mandyam.

“I just remembered my screenwriting professor telling meto branch out on my writingand do something other than juststraight comedy,” Mandyam said. “Writing a soap operawas something new for me, and my instincts kept on trying to makeit funny and over the top.”

Storylines include the roommate quarrel, the love triangle, andthe student-teaching assistant relationship, which is loosely drawnfrom real events.

“I’m a TA, and I casually mentioned to Sarah oncethat students have tried to flirt with me for a better grade. Shewanted to turn that into a story line,” Mandyam said.”It does not reflect any personal experiences.”

The nine actors make up a mix of theatre and non-theatrestudents.

“It’s a great ensemble piece,” she said.”Every character has their time to shine.”

Auditions were “a little nerve-wracking” for seniorcinema-television major R. Kyle Hiemenz, who plays Finn Turner.

“I walked in the room,” he recalled, “and theyimmediately said, ‘Hi, Kyle… um, you’re going to haveto do this in an Australian accent.’ Well, I can’tdo an Australian accent. So I did British.”

Hiemenz has enjoyed working on the show.

“Both my cast mates are great,” hesaid. “I did get some unexpected news thrown at me inepisode three, but then, that’s what soap operas are allabout.”

First-year theatre major Erin Frisbie plays Emma Mahoney.

“I had no idea if I would get cast or not, but I thoughtit was a fun experience even if I didn’t,” shesaid.

Her favorite thing about being a soap actress? Just beingridiculous.

“It’s not meant to be meaningful — it’sjust hammy.”

Aghassi agrees, always directing the actors, “Don’tact like you’re in a theater performance.”

Hiemenz just likes being on-screen.

“I love acting,” he said. “I’m not thebest at it; but when I can do it, it’s awesome. I love beingsomeone I’m not.”

Aghassi said the experience has been positive.

“I love to act and direct,” she said. “I hadexcellent help. I’ve had a really good crew behindme.”

“The Rich and Pretentious” is scheduled to air onSMU-TV (Channel 7) during the first week of school nextsemester.

Aghassi said she didn’t want to give away too many plotdetails, but Hiemenz did let one thing slip.

“I don’t fall down an elevator shaft,” hesaid.

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