This summer Yalies dove into professional theater, immersing themselves in rehearsal, production and managing in cities like New York City, Williamstown and even Edinburgh.
The professional theater world is often hard to crack, but Yalies from all classes took their first steps this summer. Many found that it was Yale itself that allowed them an opportunity to perform and produce for the general public, but a few made strides on their own.
A nearly all-Yale troupe of actors took a production of “Othello” to Central Park. The show was originally performed as a senior project in the Theater Studies major for Tracy Appleton ’01, David Blasher ’01 and Reggie Austin ’01, and then became part of the Gorilla Repertory Theater’s summer season. The cast remained almost completely intact, and the production changed little other than location. Students like Randolph Frazier ’03 and Nicola Biden ’04 performed under the lights at Summit Rock in the park to crowds of up to 200.
“I enjoyed the experience, but it was exhausting – it definitely lacks the intimacy and ‘family’ atmosphere of Yale theater,” said Biden. “I also saw how hard it is to make a living as a theater professional – one of our professional actors had a master’s degree in theater, but he still had to have an office job by day to make ends meet.”
Another group with Yale origins, “Blue-Line Arts,” traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to perform in the Fringe Festival, which is part of the city’s annual Theater Festival. Blue-Line was created by Yale graduates, and the cast of their musical, “The Crucible,” included several Yale students and alumni, including Kate Mulvehill ’02, Molly Carlin ’03 and Derrick McBride ’03. McBride and Thomas Ogletree ’03 also served as associate producers for the show, which earned a great review from the festival.
Nina Rastogi ’02 brought “Desdemona,” a play that she had directed at Yale, to New York City for a three day run in a small theater space.
Exploring the theater world on their own, Jeffrey Miller ’03 and Graham Norris ’03 tried their hands at acting. Miller performed in a number of plays at the Williamstown Theater Festival, a famous summerstock series. In New York City, Norris earned the lead role in an Off-Broadway production called “Ice in a Hot World.”
“It was my first paid acting position, which carried with it a fair amount of responsibility, especially since I was a good decade younger than the other two actors and the director,” Norris said. “It was very interesting to see how audience dynamics work when it’s not a largely drunk college crowd.”
While the production on the whole did not turn out to fully match his expectations, Norris said that he learned a lot from the experience.
“It definitely showed me that if I work hard enough, then I can at least be satisfied with my contribution even if the whole is a bit disappointing,” Norris said. “I’d certainly do it again in a second.”