UI Theatre Department sets the stage

BY DEVYN YOUNG | AUGUST 28, 2014 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa Theater Department is set to raise the curtain on a new season.

Given that it’s the third-oldest theater department in the country, department officials said, the institution has sought ways in which students and others may be involved for more than 100 years.

People may audition for and help backstage for numerous shows throughout the academic year.

The department puts on more than 25 productions a year, featuring everything from Mainstage shows to small readings.

In addition to the Mainstage and Gallery shows, there are special projects, undergraduate showcases, and the New Play Festival. Each year, there are five Mainstage shows and, this season, five Gallery productions. Eric Forsythe, the head of directing for the department, said that while Gallery shows receive budgets in the hundreds, Mainstage shows are granted several thousands of dollars each.

“Mainstage receives significantly more shop support, allowing more elaborate and complex designs,” he said.

There are also play readings and other projects throughout the year.

The first set of fall auditions will be held today and Friday, and all UI students and members of the Iowa City community may audition.

For the audition, each person has three minutes and needs to put on one monologue. Those seeking to audition for a musical must prepare a 30-second to a minute-long song in addition to a monologue. Normally, 100 and 150 people try out.

John Cameron, the head of acting in the Theater Department, said approximately two-thirds of people auditioning get cast in productions.

Those auditioning must arrive a half an hour early or forfeit their time slots. Cameron said participants are also expected to dress in a professional manner.

“Dress as though you respect what you’re doing," he said. "Wear clothing that allows you to move freely. Dress simply. Wear shoes, avoid noisy jewelry and accessories that will get in your way.”

After auditions have been completed, Cameron said, callback lists will be posted on the Theater Building callboard and on the UI theater website. Requirements for callbacks vary depending the show.

People may also get involved in directing, crew, building sets, light designing, and other areas.

“There are many opportunities for students to propose directing projects each year, for majors or non-majors, undergraduates and graduates,” Forsythe said. “We do something like 25-plus productions each year, as well as readings and projects of various kinds, so there are many directing opportunities.”

Wherever people’s interests lie, he said, it’s easy to get involved.

“Just stop by the Theater Building office for more information,” he said. "The faculty and staff are very approachable: just come see us at the theater.”

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