Lights Up on New Semester for FET


Begun in 1959, Fordham Experimental Theatre offers a diverse swath of programming, such as poetry nights and sketch comedy (Courtesy of Kevin Stoltenborg)

By Ryan Di Corpo 

Fordham Experimental Theatre (FET) has begun its new season including poetry nights, comedy shows and a musical production, among other performance opportunities.

FET, established at Fordham in 1959, encompasses a variety of umbrella groups and is the only Fordham theatre group, according to FET President Erin Kiernan, FCRH ‘19, which “offers consistent programming” and “things beyond theatre.”

In advance of this upcoming season, Kiernan states, “We encourage people to go see these shows […] to see what umbrella groups they may want to try out.”

In the words of FET scheduling representative and stand-up comedian Matt Schumacher, FCRH ‘20, “We [FET] break the mold of Fordham theatre.”

Black Sheep Spoken Word Poetry will hold its next show in Collins Blackbox Theatre from Sept. 14–15. The Black Sheep program showcases work written and performed by members of the Poetry Team.

While Black Sheep programs are not audience driven, Kiernan, captain of the Stranded in Pittsburgh improv group and a member of the stand-up comedy team, understands the desire for interactive programming, stating that there will be more “open mics, jams and slams” at dates to be determined later this semester.

From Sept. 21–22, also at the Blackbox at 8 p.m., FET will present Stranded in Pittsburgh, which performs several shows throughout the semester.

Also on Sept. 21st, FET will present the second-annual Michael Turzilli Memorial Show, named in honor of a former captain of the improv troupe who died in 2017.

The following Friday, Black Sheep will host another poetry show at 8 p.m. on Sept. 28, where the team will also be holding auditions for new members. A Halloween-themed stand-up comedy show will take place on Sept. 29.

From Oct. 4–7, FET will stage “On the Line,” a new musical with book and lyrics by poetry team captain Simon Rodriguez, FCRH ’20, with music by Charlotte Utschig, FCRH ’21.

The show, a drama with, according to Rodriguez, “an overtone of hope throughout,” focuses on persons working for a suicide hotline.

For Schumacher, “On the Line” portrays “a girl’s struggle to try to make an impact on the lives of others.”

While the experience of a suicide hotline operator does not seem like material ripe for a musical, Rodriguez cited the Broadway trend of productions dealing with issues pertaining to mental health.

These shows traditionally focus on the individuals or people seeking help — as is the case in the Broadway musicals “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Next to Normal,” but not on the persons providing help.

Utschig says, “I’m really glad to be a part of a musical that reminds people that hope can be found in any situation and from any perspective.”

FET stages two theatrical productions each semester. Following “On the Line,” voting for the next show, either a musical or a play, will take place in early October, according to Schumacher.

The Free Pizza Sketch Comedy group will stage performances from Oct. 12-13 in the Blackbox at, yes, 8 p.m.

Free Pizza member and FET publicity representative Fritz Ortman, FCRH ‘20, who has been a member of the group since his freshman year, is excited about the group’s upcoming shows.

“This semester I think that we have a very strong group of writers, and I hope that we can incorporate that into experimental sketches and even experimental shows,” said Ortman.

Ortman’s sentiments were echoed by Free Pizza captain Samantha McCarthy, FCRH ’19, who said there will be “new members of the team, which means new ideas, new jokes, and a new dynamic!”

Submissions to the Playwrights’ Festival, which presents students’ original theatrical work, are due Sept. 27. Auditions for Playwrights’ — check the FET Facebook page — will also take place in late September.

The Playwrights’ Festival, which takes place from Oct. 25–27, presents usually three or four “ten to thirty minute play[s]” which are either dramatic or comedic in tone, according to Kiernan.

Stranded in Pittsburgh will host a performance in the Blackbox at 8 p.m. from Oct. 19–20, followed by performances from Fordham Stand-Up at the same time and location from Nov. 2–3.

Stand-Up captain Kevin O’Malley, FCRH ’19, states that the stand-up up team “does [its] best every month to bring you some fresh material.” O’Malley further encourages “fans of comedy” to “attend and judge [them].”

Free Pizza and Stranded in Pittsburgh will both present shows from Nov. 9–10, with the last Free Pizza and Stand-Up performances this semester occurring on Dec. 7–8.

The date of the final Black Sheep poetry night for this semester has yet to be determined.

Begun in 1959, Fordham Experimental Theatre offers a diverse swath of programming, such as poetry nights and sketch comedy (Courtesy of Kevin Stoltenborg)