By Brendan Cahill
Saint Mary’s seniors Andrew Russell and Phil Soulides are preparing to join the real world and end their academic career at SMU. They face one of the last few challenges they have before they graduate: their senior projects.
Each member of the SMU Theatre and Dance Department must compile a production before graduating. The senior project is meant to demonstrate the skills students have acquired and perfected over their four years at SMU.
Russell’s production titled “Play Time” will bring quite a bit of excitement to the stage. The title captures the techniques he and his actors used for the creation of plays. This process consists of constructive improvisation and character exploration. This gives Russell his moment to shine while also showcasing the skills of his actors.
For example, Russell provides his actors with a character to play. The actors act out what their character is trying to do by building the character with their own improv skills and the answers and ideas from other cast members.
“It’s amazing to work with a group of team players,” said Russell. “I ask them every night to create me a quality, organic play and to make me feel something. They never fail!”
Soulides is working on his own senior project, which hopes to exploit the audience’s interest in seeing other people get hurt. His show asks, “Have you ever had that moment where you can’t look away from something you know you shouldn’t be looking at?” He said it draws on people’s desire not to look and their morbid fascination that makes them want to look anyway.
He has titled his production “Schadenfreude,” a fun, multi-syllabic German word referring to pleasure derived for the pain of others. His project uses nine actors to show the evolution of combat, from gladiator battles to bar fights in a western saloon to a title fight.
“My actors are going through quite the workshop to get ready for this show,” said Soulides. “I gave them a workout routine, which I am doing with them as well. I want to be able to do everything I am asking my actors to do.”
His actors are also learning how to move in a fight while making it look like it hurts and generating the sounds and movements of hits without any harmful contact. Soulides asked his actors during the audition if they could quickly make a wound on their face with makeup to portray the impact of a fight.
Soulides is also is using breakaway props for shock factor. He is hoping that the audience might get a rush by seeing a glass breaking over someone’s head. Soulides said, “We know we shouldn’t watch some one get hurt but we can’t help but watch!”