Jokes and relaxed bodies fill 121 Johnson Hall as I wander into the audition room for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a CSU theatre production directed by Eric Prince. Nervous thespians are very entertaining. Are they acting nervous? Are they pretending to be confident? Prince hands out the audition parts. It’s “call back night” at the Blackbox Theatre. Nervous chuckles and pleased grins cut the faces as everyone reads over their lines silently.
White brick walls, fluorescent lights and blue chairs scatter the room. Practice time is announced and everyone scatters to the outdoors and hallways to rehearse their parts. Eventually, the door to the windowless room opens, and a cast contender joins Prince, Carol Guddart, a senior theatre major and also the assistant director, and myself for a brief experience in exposing one’s soul, also known as performing live. Their expressions and exclamations bring a life to the room that was formerly unknown. The actors stress emotion during their 60 seconds of exposure to the casting jury – Prince and Guddart. Snippets of the Bard’s mischievous tale burst out of the actors in their efforts to capture a character.
Kim Glenesk is jumping into theatre at CSU. “It’s painstaking…there’s nothing left that you can do…all you can do is wait,” she said after auditioning as Titania, Queen of Faeries. Everyone’s nervous about making the cast.
Eric Stone samples his New Jersey accent for us in his audition as Snout. Stone enjoyed a stint of acting in high school, and wants to continue. Currently he’s a theatre major, doing lighting design for the Blackbox Theatre. “I’m not looking for anything major,” he said. Seeing production from behind the scenes at CSU for a few years has rekindled his interest in acting.
Zach Brown is trying out as Thesius. Brown wants to see the production side of theatre and has ambitions to become a playwright. Brown also acted in high school. “I like the language a lot. I’m doing it because it’s Shakespeare,” he said. Brown comes to the theatre events because, “it’s a different type of fraternity…it’s one of my better experiences at the university.”
Approximately 22 roles will be cast for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” “When you’ve got three or four people who can do a role really well, and you’re going to disappoint two or three of them, it’s hard,” Prince said.
“It’s nerve-racking and god-awful,” said Molly McGuire, a junior theatre major. “It helps you figure out who you are,” she said regarding waiting for a casting decision, the stomach-butterflies, being on stage and playing a character that is completely different than your personality.
Shakespeare is seldom seen at CSU. “It’s probably the most difficult form of theatre to do…it’s highly specialized,” Prince said. The last Shakespeare seen at CSU was “Twelfth Night,” two years ago. “It’s one of my goals to put Shakespeare back on the map here,” Prince said. Prince has been directing for 33 years. He hails from the United Kingdom and brings with him vast opportunities for the theatre department.
Prince wants more Shakespeare in Fort Collins. “It takes quite a lot of time to change [minds],” he said. “It’s about quality, not size,” he said, in reference to past productions and his plans for future shows.
Prince pushes the department to be distinctive, get stronger and stay on the cutting edge. Doing a Shakespeare show helps Prince’s goal of “having a distinctive identity.”
Shakespeare shows are big productions and very time consuming, but with the completion of the new theatre hall next fall, size won’t be a problem. Prince is excited about the new facility that is being built in the old Fort Collins High School. “We’ll be able to take off,” he said.