By Will Camillo
Change is on the horizon for the Visual and Performing Arts Department, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Stonehill Theatre Company. I recently sat down with STC President Dylan Turner to discuss some of the changes to the Company and the department. Turner, a member of the Class of 2017, positively described the feel of the new executive board as one of “tremendous change” with “lots of fresh perspective.” In addition to his responsibilities as head of the executive board, Turner also acts as assistant to the department head.
Prior to this semester, the Visual and Performing Arts Department was lead by Professor Patricia Sankus, who recently went on sabbatical, Professor Jim Petty working on technical and set design, and Professor Joan Halpert on costuming and makeup. With Professor Sankus on sabbatical, Professor Petty has stepped in as interim department head and has taken on the responsibilities that come with it. Professor Halpert will take on publicity in addition to her duties. When asked about these changes, Turner replied, “the department has the same functioning, just different voices.”
In addition to these recent faculty shifts, the Stonehill Theatre Company had their general meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8, wherein the faculty and executive board discussed auditions, crews, classes and other happenings in the department. According to Turner, attendance was “extraordinary,” with over 50 students, a large portion of which were newcomers. “I was shocked,” remarked Turner. “All of our auditions were filled, people were switching into our classes and signing up for different crews. We had over 30 auditions from all grade levels. I think it shows that people are looking for interesting ways to fulfill requirements, learn differently, and express themselves creatively.”
When asked about his personal feelings on the meeting and departmental changes, Turner responded, “Something I keep going back to was the musical we did last spring, ‘The Spitfire Grill.’ I felt really invested in those characters and the story. The characters in the show were feeling like, ‘this place used to be great. What happened?’ One line from the second act really stuck with me: ‘There’s a spirit of hope along Main Street tonight.’ It’s that feeling of anticipation, that things are going to be great.”
Perhaps the biggest sign of this “spirit of hope” is that STC’s fall production will be the comedy “The Serpent Woman” by Carlo Gozzi. “We have not had a true comedy since 2010,” commented Turner. “That’s something people can get excited for, that the returning members can get behind. I get to make people laugh.” With the recent exception of Spring 2014’s dark comedy, “Seminar,” the Stonehill Theatre Company has presented a wide array of dramas, character pieces and musicals, including “Moving Pictures,” “Bronte,” “Antigone” and the aforementioned “Spitfire Grill.”
Turner also expressed his belief that changes to the Theatre Company will help bring together the various theatrical and performing arts groups on campus, including the Stonehill Musical Theatre Company (SMTC) and Goose Troupe Improv Comedy Club. Turner specifically mentioned Gabrielle Jacques (pictured above), a senior who has auditioned for both the fall STC production and the SMTC production, which begins rehearsals this coming winter. In addition, several STC members, including Turner and his fellow juniors Austin Herzog and Mark Howard, are also involved with Goose Troupe, who shares use of Duffy 101 with the theatre company.
While auditions may be over, it is not too late to get involved with the Stonehill Theatre Company. Anyone can sign up for the publicity, wardrobe and costume, makeup, lighting, sound and tech crews.
For more information on these crews or STC in general, follow the Stonehill Theatre Company on Facebook and Twitter. You can also contact Dylan Turner directly via email at dturner1@ students.stonehill.edu.
“The Serpent Woman” is set to open Nov. 19, 20, and 21 in Hemingway Theater.