Except for the lucky few who get their big break on Broadway, a career in theatre tends to be a labor of love with a strange, sometimes random assortment of assignments.
Just ask Kristin, a recent theatre graduate at RWU who ditched her summer beach reads for the meatier plot twists of the University’s Summer Playhouse productions, which included “What the Butler Saw,” by British playwright Joe Orton, and American actor/playwright Sam Shepard’s “Fool for Love.”
Over the course of her last summer, Kristin wore five different hats at the Playhouse – though as a production crew member, she’s changed costumes in the figurative sense only – serving as lighting designer, stage manager, set constructor, poster maker and prop master. In that last role, Kristin racked her brain over a bouquet of fake flowers whose stem length would make or break one of the running jokes in the Orton script.
“I love technical nightmares!” Kristin says with a laugh. She eventually solved the problem using removable toothpicks, impaling her thumb while she was at it.
The Summer Playhouse at Roger Williams – founded by Professor Emeritus of Theatre William Grandgeorge – brings together students and local community members to perform two plays at the charming William Grandgeorge Theatre in RWU’s Performing Arts Center (a.k.a. The Barn). According to the beloved professor, the Summer Playhouse offers an ideal learning opportunity for passionate students like Kristin.
“In theatre, you’re talking about the very nature of the human condition and how the actor can tap into that,” Grandgeorge says. “There is no punch held between the director and actor. He can say anything he wants to say. No other teacher can do that to a student.”
Plus, the Summer Playhouse is a wonderful venue for skill-building. Skills such as, well… improvisation, something to which Kristin can attest. In a pinch, she devised the suggestive playbill for “Butler” herself: “Oh … and I used my own leg on the cover!”