by Jacob Repucci '19
Theater is the most social art form. However, when I say “social,” I don’t just mean “collaborative.” Other art forms may involve people working in unison to create a piece of art that follows a singular vision, but it may not require the participants to interact much on a social level. In theater, however, the final production is elevated if the actors are friends as well as collaborators. I learned this to be the case during my first major production with the TA Players, Mamma Mia! I found out that the people involved with the show really cared for each other, and that these connections made their work more entertaining.
One of the major pluses of these relationships between actors is that their on stage relationships were believable. One such relationship was between the characters of Eddie and Pepper, played by Paul Solomon ‘22 And Gabe Paulin ‘19, respectively. Because these two were friends in real life, their (often hilarious) time on stage together was more believable.
Because of the bonds between these people, not only were their on-stage relationships believable, but as they naturally joked around with each other as friends they came up with ideas that made the production more comedic. For example, a scene with a group of drunken men was made even more funny after Anna Bruner ‘19 proposed that they wear togas. Another hilarious moment was the addition of the famous “Mawwige is what bwings us together here today,” line from The Princess Bride by Matthew Balfour ‘20 during a wedding scene. More moments like this were littered throughout the production, all because friends joking around with each other came up with hilarious ideas and brought them to the directors.
Similarly, the background ensemble was made more entertaining by groups of actors who knew each other and made decisions to make their interactions more comedic. While the lead actors performed their parts on the stage, the members of the ensemble, including myself, had to keep themselves busy to keep up the illusion of a busy island taverna. As a result, they sometimes had to get creative. I always enjoyed being part of a short interaction on stage where Pepper, while working a bar I was standing by, would take a bottle (filled with water, of course) and waterfall it in my mouth as I chugged it. Plenty more members of the ensemble interacted with each other like this, leading to a more lively background and overall show.
All of these interactions made it so that the actors were having fun as they performed. We were all dancing, singing, and even performing crazy stunts (like dancing in wetsuits) with our friends, after all. This energy spilled into our movements during every dance and every song. As I learned during the course of the production, the more fun you’re having with the role, the more the audience enjoys your performance. So really, by forging bonds with each other, the cast made each dance number more entertaining for the audience.
Performing a story where one pretends to exist in a community of people is, by its very nature, a social act. Because of the social nature of the medium, those who participate in it find themselves growing closer together. As a complete newbie to theater, I found this to be the case for myself. I started out not knowing many people in the TA Players. But throughout the course of the production, I got to know more and more people as we worked, and my performance on stage got better as a result. This community is one of the major reasons why I enjoyed my time with the players so much, and why I regret joining so late in my high school career. Because of this, I would urge anyone considering whether or not they want to join the TA Players to try it out. I guarantee that they won’t regret it.
The Well is a written and visual commentary that focuses on reviews of the arts at Thornton Academy and the greater community. With the help of Ink's publication staff, The Well exists to both inform the readers about our arts and literature events, but to also collect the ideas and opinions of the students it is meant to enlighten.