Spectrum theatre gives NU students outlet for grievances, art

Sammy Caiola

Have a bone to pick with Northwestern? You may want to speak up.

NU theatre students are taking complaints to the stage in an effort to unite the NU community and start a dialogue about common issues in Spectrum Theater Company’s “Northwestern Project.” The group is collecting these grievances, along with praises, for a “devised theater” piece about the experiences of NU students.

Devised theater is a collaboration of different opinions on a common topic, the show’s producer Andre Sguerra said. Rather than writing a script and handing it out to actors, the directors will work with the cast to gather stories and experiences that will eventually be written down and put to stage. Organizers said the show does not yet have a name because the production staff is waiting to see what the piece becomes.

“It really revolves around the ensemble that creates it,” said Sguerra, a Communication freshman. “It can involve slam poetry, rants, whatever. There’s a whole spectrum of things we can put in there.”

Auditions for the show will be Saturday April 16 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Fisk 114. The show will be presented June 2 and 3 in Harris Hall. Sguerra said no experience in writing or acting is required.

At the auditions Saturday, the production team will look for a diversity of actors from a variety of locations and majors, director and Communication sophomore Matthew Renick said.

“We’re looking for someone who is not afraid to be his- or herself, someone who can listen well to others and can also contribute positively without being overbearing,” Renick said. “Other than that, we’re looking for everyday NU students.”

Catherine Mounger, the show’s assistant director, said the production staff plans to conduct interviews around campus during rehearsals and incorporate the quotes into the script.

Though Mounger, a Weinberg sophomore, will eventually be the one to bring the script together, most of its content will come from the cast’s suggestions.

Mounger worked on a devised show last year that was entirely slam poetry, and said she looks forward to exploring issues about the NU community through this show.

Every year, Spectrum dedicates all three seasons to one question, culminating in a special event in the spring. Last year, the question was, “For whom are we responsible?” and the spring event was Slam ’09. This year’s question is “What is truth?,” and the Northwestern Project fills the “special event” slot, Sguerra said.

Spectrum started handing out student surveys during Winter Quarter asking students about their expectations of NU, the challenges they have faced and what they would change about the University if given the chance.

This is Renick’s second time directing, and his first time working on a devised show. He said his interest in this type of performance piqued when he took a course on devised theater.

“I thought it was important as a director to see the expectations for a performer in a devising process so I can learn to speak their language,” Renick said. “I want to learn how to best communicate with the actors and get my point across.”

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