Numerous opportunities exist for Fordham students looking to both enjoy and contribute to high quality theatrical productions on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus this semester. Rose Hill’s three primary theatre clubs — Mimes and Mummers, Theatrical Outreach Program (TOP) and Fordham Experimental Theatre (FET) — serve three distinct artistic missions and have an active presence on campus. Whether you prefer classic shows or newer productions, these groups provide many options.
Since the Mimes are the oldest theater group on campus (a tidbit of Fordham theater trivia) their productions reflect a variety of tones both contemporary and classic. Their first show of the season, “Bonnie and Clyde,” is directed by Courtney Self with musical direction by Ben Chavez, both of whom are professionals hand-picked by the Mimes to work on the project. Sarah Hill, FCRH ’17, expressed excitement in describing the show’s intriguing aesthetic as “‘fire’…and sometimes ‘dust bowl hipster’.”
While the musical is set to open soon on Oct. 8 in the historic Collins Auditorium, the Mimes’ second show of the semester, “Bedroom Farce,” a British meta-farce by Alan Ayckbourn, will hold auditions soon after “Bonnie” closes. Since Lincoln Center theatrical productions are open to theatre majors only, the Mimes strive to provide non-theater majors at both Lincoln Center and Rose Hill “the experience of a mainstage-style production to students otherwise not able to participate in one,” said Hill.
Elle Crane, FCRH ’16, a member of both the Mimes and FET, agrees with Hill that “we are people who love to do theater, even if we may not be pursuing it as a career or academically. This in turn makes our theater an incredibly welcoming community.”
FET on the other hand, a club which Abby Gibson, FCRH ’16, describes as “a small but mighty group of students who seek to push the bounds of what theatre can be,” selects its several shows through an ongoing student-proposal process as the semester continues. Housed below Collins Auditorium in the prop-closet-turned-Blackbox Theatre, all of FET’s shows are student-directed, produced and often student-written.
FET’s first show of the semester, “The Little Prince,” specially adapted for the Blackbox stage and directed by Jane Skapek, FCRH ’16, and Cat Gallagher, FCRH ’17, opens Oct. 15th. Skapek and Gallagher hope to emphasize the play’s broader motifs of childhood and imagination through experimental technical direction and staging.
AJ Golio, FCRH ’16, FET’s president, is enthusiastic about the range of artistic possibilities available to directors this season as opposed to past seasons. “This is our first year as a referendum club, and our enhanced budget means we can support larger and more involved shows than ever before.”
A bigger budget not only means more technically sophisticated mainstage shows, but also means that FET’s sub-groups can experiment more this semester. “With the number of shows we have per semester, and the amount of creativity and variety we put into our shows, we can really use the extra funding to our advantage,” Phil Thompson, FCRH ’19, of Free Pizza Sketch Comedy said of the unprecedented budgetary flexibility FET received this semester.
FET’s three other umbrella groups — Verbal Essences Spoken Word, Fordham Stand-Up and Stranded in Pittsburgh Improv Comedy — are also looking forward to growing and experimenting artistically this season, whether performing in the city at esteemed venues like the Gotham Comedy Club, as Fordham Stand-Up does annually, or collaborating with other college troupes and creating trademark show formats as Sam Farnum, FCRH ’16, hopes Stranded in Pittsburgh will be able to do throughout the year. “I’d like to continue collaborating with other college groups…and I’d really like to push the troupe to create a new show format that is uniquely our own,” said Farnum, the troupe’s leader.
TOP, the third theatre group on campus, does not have a “home venue” in the way of the Mimes and FET. Rather, as TOP member Andrew Maddigan, FCRH ‘16, explains, TOP’s goal is to “bring high quality productions to high school students in the Fordham community and surrounding communities who would otherwise not have access to them.”
TOP’s first show of the semester, “Twelve Angry Men,” directed by seniors Max Beyer and Alexis Jimenez, opens Oct. 23. TOP’s second show will be Romeo and Juliet. Part of making shows accessible to students may include workshops in drama, acting or writing. President Jane Skapek, FCRH ‘16, spoke of new developments in outreach this semester for TOP as well: “This year, we are working on a partnership with a local after school program and possibly our first bilingual outreach program.”
From the unconventional flare of “Bonnie and Clyde,” to the immersive and imaginative “Little Prince,” and finally the intense, iconographic “Twelve Angry Men,” and all contained within the month of October, the upcoming theatrical season at Rose Hill promises innovation, experimentation and new heights of artistic expression.