This past week I interviewed an actress who was in our schools play, Pride and Prejudice. I attended the play myself and I thought it was great! I asked Shannen Brouner a variety of questions about her role in Western Oregon University’s theatre program.
Why did you audition for the play?
“My boyfriend is a theatre major and been in ten productions here at Western. I love the theatre productions here, they are always so impressive. Last term Nathaniel suggested I audition for Pride and Prejudice, not really thinking I’d do it, but I thought it would be fun to try something new and scary and decided I would regret it if I didn’t audition. However, I didn’t expect to get in.”
Why do you think people should go see the play?
“This play is complex, especially if you’ve never read the book or seen one of the film adaptations. But it’s really fun. The humor is witty and if you choose to see it more than once, you’ll catch something new every time. The characters are unique and the set and costume design is beautiful, it’s a really nice play to look at. And it’s funny, I’ll say that again. I think students should see any play put on by WOU if they haven’t before. They are really high quality, we have a great program here and a lot of talented actors. Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of people our age have much interest in theatre and I think that’s sad. It’s such an impressive and engaging art form. I’m rambling though, I’ll stop there.”
How often do you practice/have rehearsal?
“At the end of Fall term we had auditions and callbacks and when the show was cast we had one read through. Since week 1 of winter term we’ve had rehearsals Monday-Friday 6-10pm. Then the week before opening we had regular rehearsal Monday-Friday then technical (lights, music etc) cue-to-cue for eight-ish hours Saturday, a technical run through Sunday, dress rehearsals Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, a preview for high schoolers Thursday morning and we opened Thursday night. we had four performances that weekend, and four the following.”
What is is like to be in theatre?
“My experience in theatre was much different than that of the other cast members because almost all of them are theatre majors and/or have been in a production before either at WOU or in high school. But for me it was exciting. It’s a lot of fun to adopt a different personality and try to talk, move, think and make decisions like you think that character would. It’s hard too, I won’t lie. Especially without any experience or previous instruction. I really enjoyed seeing it all come together, watching all the actors ease into their roles and seeing the scenes start to flow together, then adding the costumes and set, until we had this entire coherent performance. It was really cool. And getting all that together then finally having an audience that reacted to it was great.”
How did you balance theatre and school work?
“This was my most difficult term by far of my 3 1/2 years at college. Besides the play I took 14 credits and worked at the campus newspaper. I had to get smart about managing my time, which was difficult, but I’ve managed. It’s possible for sure, and I’m sure a lot easier if you aren’t also working, but it does make everything much more tiring. I have never loved the weekend so much. Of course to stay on top of everything, I lost a lot of resting time during the weekend.”
How could someone get involved in theatre?
“I’ve actually learned about a lot of different ways to get involved. I’m not sure about the process for everything but there are a lot of options. Of course you can audition for shows, and like me you don’t have to be a theatre major, they are open to all students and faculty. You can be part of the crew for a show and help behind the scenes, apply to be an assistant stage manager or take the class and apply to be stage manager for a show (they do a lot of work the whole time making sure the show runs smoothly, helping the director with things, keeping track of the cast and a million other things). Students can work in the scene shop where they help make sets for shows, or in the costume shop where they make/alter/rent/put together costumes. There are also classes (some of the more basic intro to theatre or acting classes people take for LACC’s), but also costuming, makeup, voice, scene craft, theatre history, scenic painting, directing, acting for the camera, etc. In the fall a devised class begins that runs through the year and the class together writes a play that is eventually performed in the spring. This year’s is called Frankie’s Flights of Fancy and involves a lot of puppeteering and things like that, auditions for that are at the end of March, people can always talk to faculty from the theatre department too about other ways to get involved, and there’s some info on the WOU theatre page (including a video that Nathaniel made for them last year)”