Forty-five students will participate in the inaugural Student Theatre Showcase at 7:30 pm, Friday, May 20, and Saturday, May 21, in the Black Box Theater. Over the course of the weekend, a variety of student-driven work will be performed in a casual, free-of-charge setting, with a different lineup each evening. Friday night will be a writers’ showcase, in which student actors will perform staged readings of a monologue and a short one act produced from this year’s playwriting class, and then the evening will culminate in a reading of a full-length play written as part of a year-long senior independent study. Saturday night will be a performers' showcase featuring two different and challenging modes of performance. In half of the evening, students from this year’s improvisation classes will offer up two sets of long-form improvisation, the genre made famous by noted troupes like Second City and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. The other half of the evening will be dedicated to a piece of “Forum Theatre” in which actors from this year’s Theatre 9-10 class will present a performance piece created in class in conjunction with Washington University student Schuyler Atkins. Forum Theatre has its roots in Augusto Boal’s famed Theatre of the Oppressed and is a form in which actors and audience come together to use performance as a means of exploring and bringing change to social issues.
A typical evening at the theater is all about the finished product. The intent is that the Student Theatre Showcase will pique the audience’s interest in the process of theatrical creation, while also reminding audiences that theatre is not only about entertainment, but is also a means by which we can come together as a community and have meaningful conversations about challenging issues. Some of the subject matter and language of Friday’s scripts is strong, and so that evening is best for older students. Saturday evening’s improvisational fun can be enjoyed by all, and given that the Forum performance piece addresses issues from within the JBS community, the conversation will be all the better if audience members from the entire community are present.
There is no admission charge. Tickets are available at the door on a “pay-what-you-choose” basis with the proceeds from any of these donations going toward the purchase of additional wireless microphones for use in next season’s musical. And, as a trial run for the planned earlier curtain times for all theatre productions in the 2016-17 season, the shows will begin each night at 7:30, with the house opening at 7 pm. Seating is limited.