Student Body

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 while giving me the challenge of working on material was out of my comfort zone at the time. I was introduced to Student Body, by Frank Winters, which was a new play that had a brief off-broadway run at The Flea, and only one other collegiate production. This gave my peers and myself a chance to tackle on a sensitive play with a difficult topic, while working closely with the playwright throughout the process. 

 

Throughout our rehearsal period, we 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. One of the very first times 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 techniques we had over the course of our first week. Within five lines they were out of the chairs, performing the play. 

 

Much of what happened in that first reading ended up in their performances. We simply expanded on those impulses and explored the ways in which the character dynamics and relationships would tell the longest 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 I could put this cast in any location and this show would still remain in its truest form; emotionally and physically driven by impulse. 

 

Creating a safe space for everyone in the room to share their ideas and explore their imagination, ultimately to the success of this particular production. It has been reference point for everything I've made since.

Check out the trailer I directed:

Video/Photos by Peter Charney 

 © 2020 by Peter Charney

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