People go to college to pursue a career, and in the journey to get the degree, some passions can get left behind in a high school auditorium.
In the spirit of grassroots productions, Oklahoma State University's Allied Arts is working with students to get them back in touch with their theatrical roles in the upcoming production of Shakespeare on the Lawn.
Kayla Loper, the manager of arts, culture & entertainment for the program, is hopeful that student talents will come out of the woodwork and make the new program an exciting tradition.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done this program,” Loper said. “We have auditions because it will be a completely student-run production, so both the technical side and the cast.”
The idea, based on the nationwide productions of Shakespeare in the Park, came to Allied Arts from two students who missed the stage, Ashely Fallhauer and Adam Glover.
“I did it because I missed being in like a theater production since high school,” Glover said. “There are chances on campus but usually you never know how to join like the OSU theatre productions or the other ones are politics based to join. Last semester I took a class where we had to design a productions that we’d want to put on someday and I came to Ashely and I was like, ‘I want to do the idea we had freshman year to do Shakespeare on the lawn.’’
College classes can make it hard to meet people and do projects outside of a student’s selected major. The preparation of Shakespeare on the Lawn is centered on students from different majors coming together to bring the production to life.
“I think it is really important that universities continue to encourage students to be well rounded in that sense to either practice their hobbies or stay connected to the arts while still getting a degree in something considered more mainstream in terms of cash flow in the future,” Loper said. “I think we create better, more well-rounded people by encouraging people to do that.”
At auditions last week, students from zoology to engineering were waiting for their turn to show their acting skills. Jacob Schuck, a computer science freshman, auditioned.
“I was in theatre all throughout high school and I loved it,” Schuck said. “I love the idea of the stage, I loved especially the people I met there. I loved being around people who were so performative and so dedicated to making a great show and dedicated to making people happy through that show. I want to be around those people.”
Like Schuck, Sam Leach, a chemical engineer, wanted to get involved with the production but in a different way. Leach wanted to work on the technical side of producing the show.
“I used to do a lot of tech when I was in high school; I was the stage manager for three of the shows we did,” Leach said. “I just really missed theatre. I just graduated. and I wanted to get involved with something here. and I’m just really excited that I can now.”
While they enjoyed and missed the stage, for students like Schuck and Leach a degree in fine arts didn’t fit into what they wanted to do in life. It could be on the backburner but does not fit with their goals in life.
“Realistically with everything in the fine arts there are only two paths you can properly take with it, you can go through to education or you can go to performance,” Schuck said. “I don’t see myself as much of an educator and as a performer, it is such a difficult life to lead. There’s so much stress involved with it… The most important thing to me is not being able to do something I love but doing it with people I love and being able to create family and that’s almost impossible to do in a performance setting.”
While the stage might not be part of a student’s future plans, the involvement still allows them to experience things and people outside of their major. The advantage to having all of these students from varying backgrounds creates new ways to solve problems that arise from creating a stage production.
“I’m hoping that the different academic backgrounds of our cast and crew will help us work together on the idiosyncrasies of this play as Midsummer but then also what we’re doing as this being an outdoor set,” Fallhauer said. “People different affinities for say, lightening or knowing how sound works or being able to build things or maybe collaborative leadership skills, I think it is really important for these people to flex their academic backgrounds and push that aside to be theater people again. It’s a good thing for college students to practice what they’re learning in a setting that there is a diverse array of backgrounds and skills.”
The first Shakespeare on the Lawn will be the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. on Library Lawn. The production is for OSU students by OSU students.
“With all of the majors coming together we have, our shows production kinda looks like our school itself,” Glover said. “So everyone coming together to make this show what it can be, just like every student here is trying to make OSU look like a really good school.”