Hofstra University, 2017
written by Frank Winters
directed by Peter Charney
For my senior undergraduate thesis project, I wanted to create a unique experience for my cast of peers while giving myself the challenge of working on material that was out of my personal comfort zone at the time. I was introduced to Student Body by Frank Winters, which gave my peers and myself a chance to explore a sensitive play about a college sexual assault, while working closely with the playwright and several on-campus organizations during our process.
Throughout our rehearsal period, we heavily incorporated Anne Bogart's Viewpoints Technique as a way to build ensemble and establish a common language among the entire cast. The basis of viewpoints work relies on impulse; that nothing is falsely created and everything is only reactionary. The individual viewpoints gave the actors a toolset to pull from and the terminology to be able to describe what they were doing onstage. The first time we worked with the text in rehearsal, after about a week of ensemble and viewpoints work, I sat the cast in chairs in a circle and told them to do an “impulse run” using the circumstances we had established over our first week. Within five lines they were out of the chairs, performing the play with full conviction.
Much of what happened in that first run ended up in their performances. We simply expanded on those impulses and explored the ways in which we could specify the character dynamics and relationships to tell the strongest story. Our discoveries led to the choice that we would not have any fixed staging. Instead, our ensemble became so confident in their characters, their relationships, and this story, that this cast could be in any location and the production would remain in its truest form; emotionally and physically driven by impulse and an understanding of the world we built together.
Video Teaser/Photos by Peter Charney