Locally Grown Theater

March 9, 2018

Please note:  The Spring Theater Auditions have been rescheduled to Wednesday, March 14 and March 15, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. Main Campus, Sloan Theater.

One-Acts from Valley Playwrights directed by GCC Students

With entertainment at our fingertips, on a big flat screen at home, or in the multiplex, why would we go to theater, an art as ancient as culture.

“Because it’s so … alive! It’s live theater. It’s not the same as watching a YouTube video or going on Netflix. It’s a very different feeling walking into a theater and sitting down in the dark watching a production with real people, right in front of you. Where you know anything can go wrong,” says Justin Begin

“I think that risk and the fact that it’s different every night is definitely part of the appeal, but also, you don’t get the same emotions with media as when you are in the theater. It’s more immediate. The audience feels whatever the actors are feeling – hopefully,” says Eaden Marti.

“And sometimes the best moments happen from mistakes. Something goes wrong and then the actors onstage have to react to it and they have to improv and see what they can do to fix it. Get back on track. That’s some of the greatest or funniest moments,” adds Tony Guyer.

When Theater Department chair Tom Geha came to GCC five years ago from Los Angeles, he was amazed at the number of talented theater professionals and organizations in the area. He wanted to do what he could to not only connect his students with them but to give these regional artists a venue for their work. He asked for submissions for the one-acts he directs with his GCC students and was pleased with the quality and quantity of the work. The energy and excitement expressed by these three GCC students will inform the three one-act plays they are each directing this spring as part of an upper level theater class taught by Tom.

His students came up with the title “Locally Grown” for the one act productions. Each student director reads a stack of plays, chooses their top three and pitches them – an essential practice in professional life. After being involved in theatre for years, taking a wide variety of classes in all facets of theatre production – tech, set design and acting – the students now get the chance to put it all together by directing.

The Traitor by Carl Erikson will be directed by Tony Guyer. The main character “Wilson” is having a lot of trouble at home and at work. Though not his initial first choice, Tony now feels this play was best for him: “I’m really happy I’m doing this because of its complexity. There are two story lines going on at the same time. I’m nervous about getting it all together for the final production. I’m already anticipating that one kink, because there always is one.”

Eaden Marti, who came to GCC as an early entrant, will be directing Have you Seen Charlie written by Stephanie Carlson, a locally prominent actor. The play – initially serious – is a lighthearted story about a missing cat. Eaden is especially excited that he can communicate with his playwright and bounce ideas off her. Like his fellow directors, one of his big challenges will be working with new people – actors from outside the GCC community.

Another God Play Involving Plywood by Simon Walsh will be directed by Justin Begin. This one is about God and “the creation of life and humans and consciousness and all that. And the main character is dead! Not an inconsequential subject matter,” he adds, “but it’s treated with a lot of respect and I really like the message and the conclusion… I’m not giving any spoilers.”

The students are completely in charge and sometimes they make mistakes. As Tom Geha says, “that’s how they learn… I want it to be their vision, not mine. Sometimes, it’s not the way I would have done it, maybe the complete opposite.” Then he hears the audience reaction – ‘I loved the way you did that.’ “They were moved, they felt something. And I think, great! As long as the pieces fall into place and I see that they’ve put the work in, it’s truly their creation and their vision.”

Learn more about Theater at GCC https://www.gcc.mass.edu/academics/programs/theater/ or contact Tom Geha, (413) 775-1847, gehat@gcc.mass.edu.

By Christine Copeland

# # #