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#41 College Plays Are No Broadway Material (And Never Will Be)

October 18, 2008

It’s just one of those things you do to see how it is like, knowing deep down inside that you would probably have to wait until hell freezes over before you do it. Whatever it is, be it just wanting to strike it off the “List of Collegiate Things To Do” (alongside getting drunk at a beer party and making out with a same-gender friend) or genuine interest, I went with my BFF-turned-BF to a college play (never mind the fact that he initially didn’t even want to bring me) that his hall of residence’s production team created. I knew a couple of people (people I say hi to once in a while) in it so I thought it’ll be nice to actually go and looksee what these people are actually up to when they always say they have endless late night play rehearsals to attend.

So off we go! I have to say that it was a good effort (not the best compliment but hey, I’m trying here) considering that most of them are inexperienced/non-professional actors and they are freshmen who just got to know one another, and it wasn’t easy to put together an original play (script, music, sets, choreography) in just 12 weeks. But honestly, we could have spent the time so much better drinking beer or counting cars on the road. (Okay it wasn’t that bad..but still.)

Notes for college plays:
1. Foreign accents are for professionals and the truly talented.
It was disastrously funny — there were moments when I was snorting silently and so afraid I would burst out laughing — even though the play was hardly a comedy; just because the British accents were so off.

2. Self-created costumes are very much appreciated, but not if the whole cast looks like they are dressed in the SAME shiny fabric.

3. Write a script where the actors can manage the emotions needed to portray the characters. If not, get actors who can portray the emotions. Either way, make it work.

Yes, it wasn’t Broadway material, and I shouldn’t be too critical about a college production. But even though the audience aren’t industry insiders or Oscar-winning performers, we should be treated with respect that if people are going to pay to watch something, it should at least be good.

What I can’t understand is that why my college has this tradition where EVERY hall of residence will have to produce a play every year when apparently you can’t achieve good quality by rushing through the creative process in a couple of weeks, and you can’t find good enough actors amongst a relatively small and restricted pool of people (who are interested AND can commit their time to such endeavours).

It would definitely be better if they hold casting calls and produce two plays, one for each semester, by siphoning out the best talents in scriptwriting (an Eng Lit major perhaps), acting (Theater Studies no doubt, but my Chemical Engineering friend is amazing onstage), set-making (architecture/engineering?), music (Music majors obvi) and choreography (cheerleaders/dancers?) from all the various halls. Not only will it be a worthwhile experience for the audience, the performance would be spectacular, a classic, something people will truly remember by, not because it made them feel that they could easily have found a more entertaining substitute, but because it blew them away.

It wasn’t an utterly wasted experience, at the very least, now I know what these people are up to. 
(Did I mention I spotted some people snoring away?)

No offense intended — just my two cents’ worth.

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