Ushering In New Talent

The SUNY New Paltz theater department is once again opening the curtains to their 2012-13 season. This fall, the Mainstage will feature two dramas and an unexpected Blackbox production — an original musical written by a New Paltz theater major.

The Mainstage productions include “Crimes of the Heart,” the Pulitzer-winning tragic comedy, and the Shakespearean tragedy, “Macbeth.” The Blackbox production, “The Dark I Know Well,” fourth-year theater performance major Alex Eisen’s original musical set in 1930s Germany, will run between the two dramas.

The theater department held auditions for all three productions on Sunday, Aug. 26, from noon to 6 p.m. in McKenna Theatre. Professor Jack Wade, chair of the theater department, said students have many opportunities to learn about seasonal auditions, including a student’s own passion.

“We really rely on people’s interest in theater to bring them into the theater,” he said.

Wade said the department sends out a mass email with information to all theater and pre-theater majors before the auditions. During the first weekend of every semester, he said announcements are printed on the callboard, located in the lower level of McKenna Theatre, for interested students.

While non-theater majors are welcome to audition, Wade said the department’s primary focus is to train theater majors for the industry, because productions are an opportunity to apply classroom theory and practice.

“We really have to make sure that over the course of the four years here, performance majors have the opportunity to work onstage for a live audience,” he said. “We keep the season open to anyone outside the major and quite frequently we do cast outside, but we do tend to use majors more than non-majors.”

Third-year theater performance major Erin Thomas said some students might be disappointed because auditions occur the first weekend of the semester rather than two or three weeks in.

“If they just talk to people and get on the list, then they’d know about the next auditions,” Thomas said. “But you’ve kind of got to seek it out.”

Auditions for this season’s productions included two monologues that could not exceed two minutes total, one contemporary and the other Shakespearean.

Analise Rios, a first-year theater performance major, said although she was nervous for her Shakespeare audition, the department did an adequate job of preparing her and other theater majors.

The department held a workshop on Saturday, Aug. 25, where students could present their monologues to peers and faculty and receive constructive criticism.

“After performing my pieces in front of everyone, I felt a lot more comfortable and rehearsed so [the workshop] really prepared me for the audition,” Rios said.