Today, we go back into rehearsal for showcase and I am THRILLED about it. Showcase is a performance made up of a series of scenes and monologues performed by our students. This is a separate process from the shows they will be performing at the end of camp and having these two shows run at the same time has tremendous value for our students.
More than anything, showcase diversifies the performance experience our students get at ASCTC. If a student only gets to perform with the same text, acting partner, and director in our three weeks here, it’s going to limit what that student’s learning experience is. Showcase provides students another reference point to work off of. They get to take the tools they’ve been working with in their other rehearsal process and ask “how do these tools work in a new context? What feels the same and what feels different?”
But it’s not just getting to work with new texts, acting partners, and directors. I’m particularly excited for them to work with a different audience arrangement. The Blackfriars has a very specific set up. The theater is a thrust stage where the performer is surrounded by the audience on three sides. Since showcase is not performed at the Blackfriars, and is instead performed in our new Wharf building, we have decided to mix it up and put the audience in tennis court seating (Tennis court or ally seating is when the actor is surrounded by the audience on two parallel sides, creating an ally for the actors to perform in).
I’m excited about this for two reasons. One, I love ally seating. It creates interesting stage pictures and encourages a communal viewing experience where an audience is interacting both with the performers and other audience members. Second, these actors having to navigate this different arrangement is going to force them to be hyper-aware of their own bodies in space, of the stage picture they’re making, and how visual picture affects storytelling.
Showcase, like so many other activities I have talked about on this blog, serves as a lovely compliment to the day to day work these students are doing in rehearsal. Seeing these students in different roles reminds me how versatile these young actors are. It makes me want to see them all in more and more roles. Maybe in the future, I will get to.