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Broadway Workshops refine acting style

Written by Stina Chang

Published in the October 8, 2015 issue

Gunn Theatre presents its annual Broadway Workshop performance on Thursday, Oct. 15 and Friday, Oct. 16. Theatre teacher Kristen Lo helped direct this performance and offered students an experience different from the typical acting environment.

The Broadway Workshop has been part of Gunn Theatre for six years. This year, it showcases scenes from plays that have been featured on and off Broadway, including “Of Good Stock,” “Bad Jews,” “Heidi Chronicles” and “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.” “We are showcasing what is hot in New York right now,” Lo said.

The actors rehearse once a week for four weeks. Freshman Aman Roy, who plays Peter in the “Heidi Chronicles,” said teamwork is an important aspect of the production. “We only get four weeks to work and [then] you’re off performing,” Roy said.

According to senior Grace Berger, who stars as Heidi in the “Heidi Chronicles,” the team works cohesively. “We all have such good chemistry because we have a lot of fun [together],” Berger said.

Lo said this workshop has more flexibility than that of regular Gunn plays. “It’s not as stressful and not as much [of] a time commitment,” Lo said. On stage, the actors are not expected to memorize their lines; they are allowed to read lines from music stands.

Unlike the fall play “Our Town” production, the Broadway Workshop focuses on how the characters deliver. “We [rely] on eye contact, tone, and pace,” Lo said.

In contrast, the “Our Town” production focuses on character development and memorization. “They are creating a whole world on stage,” Lo said.

Rehearsal begins with acting the scene, listening to notes taken by the director and running the scene again. “We don’t do any extensive warm up,” Berger said. “It’s a simple process.” During each rehearsal, Lo ensures scenes are not stagnant. “There is a reason why the scene is in the play,” Lo said. “So we need to find out where it is going and how to get there.”

The actors have been working to remove their eyes from the script, Lo says. Even though scripts are accessible on stage, it should be there for reference only. “They need to be comfortable enough to get their eyes away from the script in order to be interacting with the people who are talking to them,” Lo said.

Some of the English classes are currently reading the book “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime,” which coincides with the Broadway Workshop performance. This connection can offer an interesting visual perspective to the novel’s words. “It’ll be fun for those people to come and see it,” Lo said. Audiences can also expect perfor- mances from English teacher Paul Dunlap, Theatre teacher Jim Shelby, retired English teacher Tim Farrell and Lo herself. Performances will be in the Studio Theater at 7:30 p.m.

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