Independent Student Productions at USC

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Following Melanie’s post last week about the School of Dramatic Arts’ production of “Top Girls,” I decided to write about some of the USC theatrical productions I’ve seen in the past few weeks that were entirely student run.

Each semester there are a multitude of plays put on at USC. Some are produced by the School of Dramatic Arts and are directed by USC faculty. Additionally, each semester, students can apply for grants to put on independent student productions (ISPs) that range from one act play festivals to fully staged musicals. In these productions, the students run everything including technical direction, costumes, props, and lights. I have been in a number of ISPs throughout my time at USC, so it’s nice to go out and support my friends when they put on ISPs of their own.

A few weeks ago, I went to see a production of “Little Shop of Horrors” put on by one of the musical theatre groups on campus, MTR. The quality of production was fantastic! MTR is one of the older groups at USC so they have a good amount of foundation on campus and generally put on very professional productions.

MTR’s production of “Little Shop of Horrors”

Another student group on campus called Brand New Theatre puts on a festival of student written one act plays each semester. A friend of mine directed one of the shows and I knew a few other people acting in it, so I went to go see the festival last week. Each of the four one act plays had their own special charm. Brand New Theatre is a great student organization because it not only showcases new actors but also new plays written by USC students. I’m taking a Playwriting course this semester, so it was particularly interesting to see the show from that perspective.

One of Brand New Theatre’s one act plays that had an new take on Sesame Street

Last weekend, I also saw a student production of “Peter Pan,” which had an interesting modern take on the old story. The set was what stuck out to me the most. The entire play was set in an artist’s studio with canvases, paint, and ladder strewn across. The artist acted as the narrator and the actors made great use of levels by climbing up and through the ladders on stage.

The set and actors of “Peter Pan”

ISPs are a great way for students to get involved in theatre, especially if they aren’t theatre majors. Next semester, I will be acting in my last ISP of my college career. I have been cast as Billy Flynn in the musical “Chicago,” and I’m very excited to be in such a great musical. Stay tuned for details!

Until next time,

Will

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