Stephens Theatre Institute prepares shows for remainder of season

Students showcase a wide variety of performance techniques during the summer theater course.

Students in the Stephens College Summer Theatre Institute program are not preparing to perform your typical plays. The summer program teaches unique acting abilities such as stage combat and comedic clowning. The four remaining acts the program will put on this summer will provide audiences with a showcase of mock violence, monologues, clownery and music.

MOVE spoke with Emma Carter, the institute’s historian, about what audiences can look forward to this summer:

Slaphappy “Stage combat at its finest.”

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 24

Where: Warehouse Theatre, 104 Willis Ave.

“Slaphappy!” is a compilation of scenes from familiar plays with physical fights inserted where they normally would not happen, Carter says. Audiences will recognize key scenes selected from well-known plays such as “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “August: Osage County."

The program was very fortunate to be able to work on the production with two guest artists from Kansas City, Martin English and Cynthia Hyer, Carter says. The pair has years of experience training actors in stage combat.

“Martin (English) is the director of 'Young Audiences' in Kansas City and has choreographed over 61 professional and university productions,” Carter says. “He’s very talented.”

Hyer, who trained students for the play, says that stage combat helps actors learn about working together.

“Stage combat is a building block in how to be safe in the theater,” she said. “It’s like a dance: very precise and careful.”

Blown Sideways Through Life

“Kaleidoscopic misadventures of a would-be actor.”

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, May 31

Where: Warehouse Theatre, 104 Willis Ave.

“Blown Sideways Through Life” is a collection of memoirs written by Claudia Shear. Carter says the memoirs chronicle Shear’s experience in various odd jobs as she tries to find employment as a professional actress.

Performers will recite funny and insightful monologues with adult content, Carter says.

Devising Mischief

“A commedia extravaganza!”

When: 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 7

Where: Warehouse Theatre, 104 Willis Ave.

The performance “Devising Mischief” will showcase the comedic skills of STI actors. During rehearsals leading up to the performance, the young actors will challenge themselves to improvise a comedic show, Carter says.

Actor Matt Weiss flew in from New York to teach the young performers the art of being funny, she says. Weiss, who is a former Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus performer, has also appeared as a body double for Sherlock in the CBS television show, “Elementary,” she says.

Student Lydia Miller says she enjoyed learning how to clown around and looks forward to performing.

A Little Show Music

“A musical theatre celebration!”

When: 7:30 p.m., Monday, June 17

Where: Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave.

The STI’s annual musical, now dubbed “A Little Show Music,” compiles hit show tunes, jazz dancing and tap dancing from three popular Broadway musicals. The fun performance always draws large crowds, Carter says.

Although she could not say which tunes will be selected, Carter says it is a performance worth seeing.

More Stories