Sunday, March 6, 2016

Student productions

I suppose there are several schools of those about student productions -- probably the number one rule is that they are generally not reviewed by the major papers, though occasionally Now bends that rule.  However, Mooney's has definitely been reviewing the Hart House* productions and most of the George Brown productions, though I don't believe they reviewed The Suicide.  There is no question that the ticket prices at Hart House and George Brown are creeping up there, and they are actively advertising to a wider public (unlike the Ryerson productions or some of the more obscure UT productions), so on those grounds, a balanced review probably would be a good thing.

The flip side to the performers not being professional or "seasoned" is that the productions benefit (or can benefit) from far more attention and rehearsal than can be pulled together by almost any of the independent theatres, not least of which is because student productions don't have to pay for rehearsal space (at least not as far as I know).

Now different programs run things differently, and Northwestern seemed to really maximize the number of productions.  Indeed, many of the plays ran two shows back to back (one starting at 10:30 or 11) just so that all the professors could get around to all of them.  I don't ever recall that happening at other universities.  It may well be unique.  Consequently there was a lot of experimental stuff, but everything was just a bit rough around the edges.  Not that I minded, at least not back in my late 20s and early 30s.  In contrast, UT and George Brown focus their energy on a relatively few productions, and some of them are incredibly polished.

I managed to get to Boeing Boeing at Hart House on Sat.  (That was the last day** -- sorry, though I had mentioned it previously.)  It surpassed my expectations.  It was gut-bustingly funny, particularly this long, lanky best friend from Wisconsin who really had a knack for physical comedy.  The Mooney's review is spot on, particularly in how the maid Berthe pretty much steals every scene she is in.  I actually passed on a chance to see Arts Club do this in Vancouver, but I suspect this performance was even better than that one (and about half the price).  In any case, it is definitely going to be in my top 10 for the year (at least I assume so).

I mentioned a couple of times that I was a bit annoyed I had just missed Hart House doing Goodnight, Desdemona, Good Morning, Juliet by a week 2 or 3 years ago.  I am sure it was a killer performance, but the weekend before this I went down to St. Catherines to see Brock University do the play, and they did a fantastic job.  So I can stop feeling sorry for missing out, though that has also closed for those of you who didn't see my previous listing.  I will spend a bit more time reviewing that production and the trip down and back, but the main point remains that often student productions are very well done.  I usually do not hesitate to go to a student production, particularly if it is a play that I want to see which isn't staged that frequently.

* Come to think of it, Hart House used to be clearly student-oriented theatre, but many of the roles are being filled by non-students (this was particularly the case with Walker's We the Family).

** I really wish there was a way to watch the recording of some of these performances, as I imagine they are recorded (particularly if any of the actors are getting academic credit for their work on stage), but if they are, they are not made public.

No comments:

Post a Comment