Picture Above: Tanner Schartz, theatre sophomore, and Tanner Carlson, communication senior, perform in “Fools on the Hill.” (Photography by Tessa Castor/Staff Photographer)
By Tessa Castor
Three weeks ago, rehearsals for four student-directed scenes began with auditions. Students of varied theatrical experience performed the scenes Wednesday evening in “found spaces” – the lobby of the Christy Administration Building, the lawn of Messenger Recital Hall and Wroten Hall.
The Southwestern College Theatre Department presented “Fools on the Hill” at 6:30 p.m., meeting first at the top of the 77 Steps.
As a Directing I class project, two student directors, and two alumni directors held auditions at the beginning of September, then beginning a course of 10 one-hour-long rehearsals for their 10-minute-long scenes. Willow Branch, theatre senior, participated in her third “Fools on the Hill” as a student, this time serving as director for her scene, “Bride and Gloom.”
“I needed the Directing I class to graduate,” said Branch. “But I was also really excited to take it. ‘Fools on the Hill’ is something that everyone kind of knows. It’s just something fun to do every year.”
Branch said that the informality of “Fools on the Hill” is its best quality, bringing theater to a “non-theater space,” with football players and actors alike participating.
“It’s unique because a lot of times it’s got people who have never done theater before,” said Branch. “It lets people experience theater in a different way.”
In his second year of “Fools on the Hill,” Jack Warring, music theatre sophomore, said he enjoys getting involved in theater events, hoping they help him reach his goal of one day acting on Broadway. He played God in “Can This Marriage Be Saved?”, the third scene of the evening.
“Theater can be done anywhere,” said Warring. “I love working with new people and I love working in spaces that aren’t a theater. You get to go anywhere on campus and just do it.”
“Fools on the Hill” has been an annual event since its 2011 beginning. Playwright Rich Orloff, the same playwright whose work was used in the original “Fools on the Hill” scenes, wrote this year’s performed scenes. Next year, student-written scenes will be performed, something that occurs every other year.
Allyson Moon, director of theatre, is in her first year of teaching the Directing I class, though she remembers the first “Fools on the Hill.”
Moon said she believes the fall directing scenes have become an annual event because of the opportunity it provides to get a large number of students involved, as well as students not commonly involved in theater, taking “theater to the people.” Moon said that her favorite part of “Fools on the Hill” comes at the event’s conclusion when the audience responds to the actors’ success.
“I do love to see friends watching their friends perform when they don’t usually participate in theater,” said Moon. “Acting is a lot harder than most people think it is.”
In moving forward, Moon said she hopes for the theatre department to grow with the school’s enrollment, allowing for six directing scenes with all-student directors. She said she wants students who may be interested in “Small Packages” or “Acts of Consequences,” other student-directed scenes that occur in the winter and spring, to know they are welcome to audition.
“I am really thrilled to see the way in which tonight’s audience supported the work of the directors, actors and stage managers of the shows,” said Moon.
Tessa Castor is a sophomore majoring in English. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.