By Emely Bonilla, May 16, 2023
A small group of theatre students showcased their own creative direction with the debut of an original play, “Star Stuff” allowing all members of the production to explore their own individuality from May 6 to 8.
The play follows two middle school best friends, Lola and Sofia, as they struggle to understand their roles interpersonally and what makes them individuals within their relationship after discovering that Lola has been given the choice to remain in their world with the life she knows or develop into something even greater without Sofia. Eventually, the two best friends are able to find their places both within their friendship and understand how to overcome the difficulties that come with decisions both members of the friendship do not necessarily agree with.
Playwright Kimberlee Stone, a CPP alumni, included a few scientific details that were used to progress the plot and reinforce the narrative of how everything is connected through what she called “stardust.”
“We are all made of stardust, it is actually a scientific principle, because of the manner that our molecules are made up of we have the same matter found in our stars,” said Stone. “Focusing this concept more on the interconnectedness of the universe and community is one way I reinforced the idea that no one person is alone because there should always be people in the universe to take us into the next phase of our existence.”
In order to ensure that the message of the story was being properly portrayed, Stone was able to work with both Bernardo Solano, the Department of Theatre and New Dance chair, and the students enrolled in the Special Topics class at rehearsals to develop the play. Members of this special class are given a script to work with throughout the semester and from there the students are given roles for the production.
Introducing and interacting with a brand-new play was a concept that was new to the playwright, the director and the cast and crew and allowed the production to develop a script that was completely their own.
“Normally we work with a play that has been produced not once, but many times, the plays are usually considered finished,” shared Solano. “(Stone) would meet with us as much as she could via Zoom. We would read the script, ask questions and from there she would work on the script and send us brand new pages based on our comments. We wanted to help her finetune her play and get the best voice she can.”
Throughout the process, the students would share with Stone how they felt about the play’s development. This constant collaboration led to the casting choices being reconsidered in a way that best suited the students, made sense to the director and stayed true to the story.
A workshop style play helped students form a personal interpretation of the script because there were no expectations that came with this play the way there is with previously existing plays.
“We wanted to give our students the opportunity to experience this process. This is part of what certain actors will go through during their professional careers, developing new work,” explained Solano. “Many theaters across the country work on new material over time and I wanted our students to get this opportunity.”
Not only are the actors able to explore their talents in a new way, but the tech crew was given creative freedom as well.
Minh Tran, a technical design student, described how the technical side of the production such as sound, visuals and stage direction were created as the script developed.
“This was a small production. We had a lot of creative control, we got to improvise and learn how to make blockings, body movements and work on sound too,” explained Tran. “Whenever you would hear any sound or music it was me. I was able to orchestrate that to make the play look and run smoothly.”
Overall, the production of the play reflected the efforts of all parties involved. It was evident that the story was thought out thoroughly and the crew made sure to use lights, props and sounds to push the message of the play.
The production of “Star Stuff” was put on stage in CPP’s studio theatre, a small intimate venue where all members of the production could see immediate reactions from the audience. The reaction from the audience played a huge role in how impactful the script was. It was as if the viewers were encouraging the performers by understanding the emotions of the character and all the actor’s hard work. The efforts of the performer allowed the themes of this play to leave a lasting impact on the audience.
Feature image courtesy of CPP Theatre and New Dance Department
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