Training Theatre Artists to Make a Difference
An interview with freshman Emily Cerwonka about her experiences in Freshmen Showcase: Connections and her aspirations for the next four years
By: Tori Boutin
What was your favorite part about participating in freshmen showcase?
Cerwonka. My favorite part of the showcase was the diversity of pieces chosen. They ranged from classical Shakespeare to the comedic Neil Simon. I also enjoyed seeing how my peers portrayed very serious characters in one piece and then made the audience cry with laughter in the next couple of scenes. It was a good way to see the range and flexibility of each of the performers.
What do you look forward to your next four years in the department?
Cerwonka. I look forward to learning all about the different aspects of theatre production. I enjoyed assistant stage managing for King Oedipus and I hope to become a well-rounded theatre artist and earn a more comprehensive knowledge of what it takes to be an artist both on-stage and off-stage in a production.
What do you hope to learn in your time at CUAdrama?
Cerwonka. I hope to improve my understanding of classical theatre. I didn’t spend a lot of time in high school analyzing classical texts, their meaning, or how to translate it to the stage.
What pieces did you work on in Freshmen Showcase? How were pieces like or different from parts you’ve played before?
Cerwonka. I was Dr. Kelekian in Wit and Megan from Dimly Perceived Threats to the System. Megan was similar to characters I have played before because she was sassy, full of ideas, and spunky. However, the scene dealt with more mature themes like adultery. It was fun to explore the options behind her motivations in her conversations with Josh. She was also more aggressive and controlling than other characters I’ve played. So, it was fun to play with the different power struggles throughout the scene. Dr. Kelekian was very caustic and “no-nonsense,” whereas I’ve played sweet characters in the past. It was fun to explore my range with these different pieces.
Who were your directors? What was it like working with students as your directors?
Cerwonka. Kira Burri and Joe Weber were my directors. I enjoyed working with both of them because they incorporated mine as well as my scene partner’s ideas into the rehearsal and staging process. It was more of a collaborative environment rather than a teacher-student atmosphere.
After the showcase, do you feel you have a stronger sense of solidarity with your fellow first year students? With the department as a whole?
Cerwonka. During the dress rehearsals and shows, I had the opportunity to spend more time with the other students involved, especially those who were not in my pieces. We had the chance to relax and have fun. I usually only see them in class or in a formal setting. So, it was fun to just be able to talk to them about things other than homework. It was my first time working with all of them. I’m excited to work with them in future shows and class endeavors.
Do you look forward to your class’s third-year production class and freshmen showcase? What lessons have you learned from this process and how will you implement them in your showcase come junior year?
Cerwonka. I look forward to producing the freshmen showcase when I am a junior. I have learned that collaborating with the actors will give them more ownership over the pieces they are presenting, and it will excite them to come to rehearsal and perform. Also, choosing pieces that have more mature themes will help them transition from high school theatre into college theatre. These plays address more real world problems that others can relate to, and give students the opportunity to play characters that are outside of their comfort zone.